Book Review: I Am Cadillac
Life Lessons from a Horse
By Ross A. MacInnes
Friesen Press, 2016
Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Reviewed by Margaret Evans
A long-time resident at Triple R Ranch, Caddie is a stocky, powerful horse who has seen many other horses in his herd come and pass on. Many of them have come from places where they were neglected, abused, or needed to be rescued. And some came because they needed to be retrained for a new career.
But what makes I am Cadillac, Life Lessons from a Horse by Ross MacInnes so special is that it is Caddie himself who is telling the story of his herd and The Man who cares for them. The story includes the dramas of floods, attacks by predators, loss of older horses, changes in the herd, cattle round-ups, and young colts learning how to be horses.
The style of writing gives Caddie a genuine and believable compassion for his herd-mates and the humans on the ranch.
“The time of saying farewell to our old herd leader and his longtime companion was a solemn occasion. All knew that the old era had come to an end and a new period had begun. The Man clipped locks from both Murphy and Casper’s mane and tail and set them gently aside to be placed in his ‘place of remembrance.’ He then took several separate hairs, wove them into a braided line and clipped it to that old saddle of his.”
But life in the herd was full of new beginnings and, for Caddie, it came after an accident that injured The Man when he took a serious tumble off Caddie’s back. He was rescued by ranch hands and taken to hospital. MacInnes gives credibility to allowing Caddie a sense of remorse and responsibility for what had happened, especially given that Caddie had a reputation for bucking riders off. On The Man’s return, he rode him again, reassuring trust in Caddie. And he then entrusted to Caddie the upbringing of a colt named Dollar, to teach him the ways of the herd.
“He was young and, as a herd, we all took responsibility for his upbringing. I made sure he didn’t get too out of control and that he got as much exposure to new situations as I could find. What Dollar didn’t realize was that his every move was being watched.”
I am Cadillac is full of insights and kernels of wisdom about horse behaviour, life in a herd, the dynamics of life on a ranch, and the interactions between individual horses. There is so much here that genuinely reflects the complexities of a horse’s behaviour and reactions to both dramatic and subtle situations. It’s a truly great read.
MacInnes has been involved with horses all his life. After retiring from a career in law enforcement, during which he was a police vice-squad commander dedicated to helping teenagers leave the world of drugs and violence behind, he returned to his horse ranching roots in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He is the author of two best-selling books, Children in the Game, and The Other Side of Here.