BOOK REVIEW: Wonder Horse

Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World's Smartest Horse

Wonder Horse is a wonderful story about kindness and the power of compassion. In the 1800s, Bill “Doc” Key, a veterinarian and former slave, teaches an orphaned colt, Jim, to perform amazing mental feats such as recognizing letters and colors.

The humane education element (on behalf of both humans and animals) is outstanding, especially considering the time period in which the book is set. As the text notes, few people at the time cared about animals or believed they had feelings. Some animal advocates won’t like the passage in which Doc buys a horse (albeit an abused one from a circus) and breeds her, hoping to break into the horse racing world. However, he soon ditches the racing idea when he sees the foal is very weak, with twisted legs. While a more heartless person might have destroyed the “damaged” foal, Doc raised him and nursed him back to health. With gentle training, Jim learns a variety of tricks and behaviors.

Despite the racial prejudice and taunts Doc often experienced, he took Jim on the road, hoping to teach others that animals have minds and feelings. After researchers studied Jim and concluded he was indeed “educated,” the SPCA agreed to sponsor Jim’s act, and children signed pledges after the shows to be kind to animals. All in all, Wonder Horse is a fine choice that will be welcomed by humane educators.

(review originally appeared at


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Boris Glade
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 16:42:38

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