One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile

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9780062204370: One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile

There is little in this world that a family cannot endure, if endure they must. For we all have it within us to lose everything, absolutely everything, and still find strength in the most simple, beautiful things.

Pat and Mandy Retzlaff lived a hard but satisfying farming life in Zimbabwe. Working all hours of the day on their sprawling ranch and raising three boisterous children, they savored the beauty of the veld and the diverse wildlife that grazed the meadows outside their dining room window. After their children, the couple's true pride and joy were their horses.

But in early 2001, the Retzlaffs' lives were thrown into turmoil when armed members of President Robert Mugabe's War Veterans' Association began invading the farmlands owned by white Zimbabweans and violently reclaiming the land. Under the threat of death, the family was forced to flee, leaving behind a lifetime's possessions and becoming exiles in the only country they had ever called home.

As other families across the country fled, they left behind not only their homes but dozens of horses. Devoted animal lovers, Pat and Mandy—now essentially homeless themselves—vowed to save these horses: Shere Khan, the queen of the herd; Tequila, the escape artist forever breaking free and trying to walk back to his original home; Grey, the silver gelding and leader; Princess, the temperamental mare; and the numerous others they rescued along the way.

One Hundred and Four Horses is a love story and an epic tale of survival and unbreakable bonds—those that hold us to land and family, but also those between man and the most majestic of animals, the horse.

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About the Author:

Mandy Retzlaff is a lifelong horse lover and farmer. Today, Mandy and her husband, Pat Retzlaff, run a horse safari company on the Mozambique coast, taking tourists on rides through the wild and wonderful country that they now call home.

From Booklist:

As terror swept Zimbabwe’s farms early this century, a couple known as the horse people began to shelter the animals left behind. Retzlaff recounts the journey she and her husband undertook in this plainspoken, heartfelt memoir. Hounded from farm to farm for years by hordes of President Robert Mugabe’s men, they belong to a community besieged. Their escape is filled with midnight rescue runs, forced departures in a matter of hours, theft, and betrayal. Retzlaff is at her best in her loving descriptions of the horses’ personalities, allowing the reader to get to know the animals as individuals. The Retzlaffs’ deep feeling for their charges will appeal to animal lovers of all stripes. Overall, the writing lacks shine, but the story of the brave battle the Retzlaffs wage on behalf of the vulnerable herd does not require sparkling prose to make an impression. The couple’s story—a drastic example of standing up for those you love—showcases the seemingly small but deeply significant heroism of doing the right thing, --Bridget Thoreson

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