Author spreads message of a horse’s strength
The comeback story of a race horse proved to be an inspiration for its riders and eventually a book honoring his strength.
“The Horse Who Could Do Anything” is a child’s book based on a true story of a horse owned by author Laura Klein, who has ties to Wapakoneta. Written from the horse’s point of view, the horse starts out in the pasture when a little girl tells him he can do anything.
The real horse, Consoler, was a thoroughbred and who went through training to become a racehorse. He was on the track for two years, where he was an average racer. Later, he was sold to become a Western horse. After not doing so well, he was put into a pasture for two years. Laura’s father, Jim Klein, of San Diego, bought “Soler” when Laura was 12 years old. Laura’s riding instructor, Gerry Donnelly, introduced them to Soler.
“He was a beautiful horse,” Jim said. “There was something about him — he had a character.”
While neither Consoler nor Laura thought they could race,
See Strength, page 6A
three years later she was racing with him in seven different states.
“That’s what happens when someone believes in you,” Laura said. “When someone says you can do it, you start to believe it, too.”
After Laura went to college, Jim said he “followed in his daughter’s footsteps” and learned how to ride the horse.
He was 50 years old.
“He kind of taught me how to ride and how to jump,” Jim said. “He’s a lesson horse.”
When Laura left, Jim said he took care of the horse.
“I thought ‘I have this fantastic thing here, and I need to use it,” Jim said. “I’d call her up and she’d give me advice. The horse was very willing — trotting and galloping and jumping.”
Jim said he and Soler eventually participated in horse shows and won.
He said he thought of the horse as a family member.
“He would do some funny things — if you held up a can or an apple, he would smile for you,” Jim said. “If you were in a stall with him, he would grab your shirt in his mouth and pull it. If you weren’t careful, he would lean his weight to the side and very casually set his foot on top of your foot.”
Jim said her daughter’s inspiration for the book came from the horse’s life experiences.
“We were talking about the things he did, and I said, ‘We need to write a book about him,” Jim said.
Jim said he was proud the day Laura showed him the book, as it was an honor to the horse’s memory.
Soler was stabled at the naval air station in Miramar, Calif. Jim said the reason they were able to use the facility during that time was because he was a lieutenant commander and flight officer.
“In the ’60s, a lot of people in the military were from farms and ranches and had horses,” Jim said. “Many of the facilities had stables.”
Jim said a Naval officer told their horse instructor that his team needed to learn to ride horses, so they took a few lessons from Soler.
The same officer that requested lessons came back after they were deployed to Afganistan and thanked them for the lessons.
Jim said the officer told him ‘If it wasn’t for us getting lessons on your horse, we might not have done what we did.’ Since the team had learned how to ride, their mission was successful.
After Laura finished college and settled down, Laura wanted to be reunited with Soler during the end of his life. She rode him and taught her students with him. One of her students who rode on Soler recently became intercollegiate national champion.
“All of these things he did fall into the title ‘The Horse Who Could Do Anything,” Jim said.
As Soler aged, he lost his sight and became a bit scared, Jim said. One night when Laura and her daughter, Toccoa, went out to lead him to his food, her daughter put her weight on the horse and said “he’s just sleeping.”
While Laura said all of her horses have a special meaning to her, she said Consoler was, as the expression goes, her “one good horse.”
“There are some parts where it hurts still,” Laura said. “I know that he’s gone, and that hurts more than anything.”
Laura said there were times when she was writing in the middle of the night and one of her children would wake up and ask why she was crying. She said it was sometime painful to remember Consoler, and she would have to put her projects on hold.
Laura said her instructor made a huge impact on her decision to become a riding instructor.
When she was younger, Laura said her animals were her companions. She said sometimes she was looked at as different because neither of her parents rode horses before her.
“At the time when I grew up,” Laura said. “I had the feeling like I didn’t fit in with my own family.”
She said it was not easy fitting in with a military lifestyle.
“I loved my daddy, but I couldn’t relate to him why the room must be clean or, when you leave for church, why you must get there on time,” Laura said.
Laura said she tries to be the parent that understands that everyone is unique
“I say ‘I get that you’re different,’” Laura said. “Just because I ride every day doesn’t mean you have to.’”
Describing her family as “horse poor,” Laura said she would rather have her dogs, cats and horses living with her family than a “clean house and clean children.”
Laura lives with her husband, David Boyer, and their three children, Toccoa “Coco,” 8, David, 7, and Grace, 5. They live outside of Harrisburg, Penn.
However, her mother’s family lives near Dayton and her father’s family live near Cleveland.
“We still have ties in Ohio,” Laura said.
Laura specifically mentioned her grandparents, Pauline and Will Cook, of Wapakoneta. Will is a World War II veteran.
Laura also owns four horses, Sneaky, 2, Goose, 6, Walea and Mr. Freeze, 18. Laura said both Walea and Mr. Freeze were Soler’s companions.
However, Laura said she will continue writing about Soler, and her mini-chapter novel should be ready by next summer. She also is writing a chapter novel to go along with the children’s book and the mini-chapter book, all relating to Consoler.
“My hope is that if a kid loves it so much, they’ll want to read more,” Laura said.
She said the books have three progression levels, and the most difficult aspect of writing is figuring out what would interest the differing age groups.
Laura said she began writing because of her father’s inspiration. She said her children, who enjoy drawing, may have inspired her creative process.
However, she said Soler was her biggest inspiration.
“The message is that this horse wasn’t a racehorse, even though that’s what he was born to do,” Laura said. “I think sometimes kids think they can only do what their parents do, but that’s not true.”
Laura said if someone feels he or she is not good at something, it’s not “the end of the road.”
“If you have a goal that you want, dream big,” Laura said, “give yourself options. That’s this horse’s message.”
Laura said she put this message in her book to try to pass on to youth. She said she became a riding instructor to share this message, but that that was not enough.
She said she wanted to spread Soler’s story.
Interested readers can find the book on Amazon.com. The book is also available on Kindle devices.
While Laura’s passion is teaching horse riding, she said she always wanted to earn a bachelor’s degree in English.
“I kept taking creative writing classes,” Laura said, despite her passion for horse riding.
“I was so sure I was going to become a great show rider,” she said. “Instead I became a teacher. I would never trade all of those summer camps for the world — it was so important to me.”