St. Martin’s Press (175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010), 2015.
300 pages, hardcover. $26.99.
Reviewed by Debra J. White
Chicago attorney and horse trainer Mitchell Bornstein has a history of handling difficult clients both in court and in the stable. Samson is perhaps his biggest challenge and reward. A survivor of a Bureau of Land Management wild horse round-up in Nevada, Samson found a home through the BLM Adopt-a-Horse program, but was later displaced by fire.
Neighbors Amy and her sister Lisa, who lived on a nearby ranch with a motley crew of dogs, cats, goats, and other animals, were not ready for the horse they offered sanctuary. Samson scared people, frightened animals, and wrecked barns. Could Bornstein train him?
Last Chance Mustang is a touching story of a skilled horse trainer who is determined to see his client succeed. Bornstein drives out week after week from his Chicago apartment to the farm where Samson lives for training lessons. Stubborn, angry, and defiant, Samson is at the same time a horse calling out for affection. Bornstein learns that his former owner used brute force to “break” Samson, making him even more cantankerous as well as afraid. In the end, however, Bornstein works through his fears and is able to saddle Samson, a significant accomplishment for a horse who initially refused to be touched or brushed.
Last Chance Mustang not only takes the reader into the developing relationship between Samson and his trainer but also includes considerable background about the BLM and the federal legislation governing wild horses. As both a critic and a reader, I cheered for Samson to succeed. Bornstein is likeable, smart and unwavering in his support of Samson. Kudos to sisters Amy and Lisa for giving Samson a second chance. Last Chance Mustang grabbed my attention from page one and never let go.