Book Review: Ivory Pal

Ivory Pal, a young palomino Tennessee Walking Horse, had the potential to become a star in the show ring, snapping his knees to his chin in the breed’s famous “Big Lick.” Like many others of his breed, he was subjected to weighted, padded shoes and chemicals that burned his sensitive coronary bands, further aggravated by chain anklets. Trainers also used whips to try to make him perform, but the young horse refused. Disgusted, his owners confined him to his stall, day in and day out, not caring that his muscles were wasting away.

That’s how Rafael Valle found him, purely by chance. Rafael had a long-range plan to buy land, build a barn and then buy an Andalusian. Meanwhile, he enjoyed attending horse shows, visiting farms near his Ocala, Florida, home, and learning about different breeds. When he saw an ad for a Tennessee Walking Horse farm, he decided to visit. The moment he saw Ivory Pal, he knew he had to have him.

And thus began an exceptional journey of understanding in which man and horse grew to know and trust each other and to show the world what could be accomplished by training a horse without force.

Cindy McCauley visited Valle and Ivory Pal to write a magazine article on the pair, and decided their story deserved a bigger audience. Thus, the book Ivory Pal: Born to Fly Higher ~beyond the blue ribbons. Images by Cheri Prill enhance the book, which would be a nice gift for young adult or adult horse lovers.

“The Tennessee Walking Horse is a remarkable breed,” says internationally respected equine veterinarianRobert M. Miller. ?Unfortunately, human greed, ego, and ignorance have led to terrible abuses of these horses. Of course, abuses exist in many show horse disciplines, but this one is especially painful to the horse. I’m so pleased to see an increasing number of Tennessee Walking Horse owners abandoning these inhumane and unnecessary methods. This book about Rafael and his stallion, Ivory Pal, heartened me.”

Order the 88-page, 8 ?- by 11-inch paperback at for $16.95 (free shipping till December 24, 2012). In the spirit of the holiday season, ten percent of the profits from the sale of Ivory Pal: Born to Fly Higher before Christmas will be donated to the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary in Georgia, founded by Melanie Sue Bowles and her husband Jim.

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