Friday, May 29, 2015

*Challenge Review* Last Chance Mustang by Mitchell Bornstein

Genre: Non-Fiction
Published: June 23, 2015
Pages: 320
Ages: 14+


Last Chance Mustang is the story of Samson, a formerly free-roaming, still wild-at-heart American mustang that was plucked from his mountainous Nevada home and thrown into the domestic horse world where he was brutalized and victimized. After years of abuse, Samson had evolved into a hateful and hated, maladjusted beast until the day he found his way to a rural Illinois farm, an ill-equipped owner, and one last chance. Mitch Bornstein's task was to tame the violent beast whose best defense had become offense. He had twenty years of experience fixing unfixable horses, but Samson would be his greatest challenge. Through the pair's many struggles and countless battles, Samson would teach Mitch about the true power of hope, friendship, redemption and the inspiring mettle of the forever wild and free American mustang.

Last Chance Mustang explains Samson's violent and antisocial behavior while addressing the remedial techniques employed to remedy these issues. The art of working with damaged horses is demystified. Though his story is sad, the reader is asked to respect Samson-not pity him. He has good and bad days, and he has a dark side. Like all of us, Samson is far from perfect. And his saga will move the reader to both tears and laughter. Part history lesson, part training manual, and part animal narrative, Samson's is a story that all readers will be able to relate to: a story of survival, of trust, and ultimately, finding love.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would then post an honest review.

When I was younger, I went through a horse literature phase, reading Black Beauty, all of Marguerite Henry's Chincoteague books, and several (if not all) of the books in the Saddle Club series. I was kind of excited to briefly return to that obsession of my childhood. Last Chance Mustang did not provide a story similar to those from my childhood. It's a lot more technical and goes into detail about Bornstein's training practices, which makes sense because this is a story about training a wild mustang. 

Once I got over my personal disappointment that this wasn't the next Misty of Chincoteague, I saw the story for what it really is. This is the story of a cowboy's greatest accomplishment, even if Bornstein doesn't view himself as a cowboy. This is the kind of story I could see my own grandfather telling to some young kid on Tuesday's down at the sale barn, the kid hanging on his every word, wondering who would be victorious, man or beast. 

One of the highlights of this book was how Bornstein wove the history of the wild mustang into the story of his training of Samson. We learn not only what it took to try and earn Samson's trust, but also why those steps were necessary in the first place, and what Samson's fate could have been if he'd entered the system at a different time than he had. Some of the statistics offered in this book were truly sobering. 

Overall I give the book 4 out of 5 stars because it was entertaining, enlightening, and made me actually feel concern for the plight of America's wild mustangs. I would definitely recommend this book to horse enthusiasts and trainers and probably just about any animal rights activist as well. But I'd also recommend it to anyone that just loved reading horse stories in their younger years. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

At the age of seven, Mitchell Bornstein jumped atop his first horse, and in the thirty-eight years since, he has pursued his life’s dream of working with damaged, abused, and difficult horses. College, law school, and nineteen years as a practicing attorney have not stood in the way as Mitchell has followed his passion and one true calling: to save the horses that no one else will. 

From Illinois to Indiana, Wisconsin to Iowa, Mitchell has traveled the Midwest and entered stalls that others won’t and mounted steeds that others can’t. Practicing what he has termed "command and control horsemanship," Mitchell handles each of his horses with a firm yet respectful approach. For Mitchell, there is no such thing as a bad horse or a steed beyond repair. Mitch lives and works in Wheeling, Illinois.

Challenge Scorecard

I used Last Chance Mustang to fulfill my "based on a true story" category for the Popsugar reading challenge. It's non-fiction, therefore based on a true story. 

Other categories it could fulfill include
A book published this year (It's not out until the end of June)
A book with nonhuman characters (one of the main characters is a horse)
A nonfiction book
A book by an author I've never read before

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