Half Broke: A Memoir (Paperback)
This memoir touches intently on what it is to be human and what is animal in us. While Ginger Gaffney works as a horse trainer on an alternative prison ranch in New Mexico, she is really living into her notion that honesty and accountability are far more present in the ways that we move through the world than anything we could ever say out loud. She is there to show the creatures inhabiting the land to be mirrors for any and all human behavior— in devastating and in utterly redemptive ways. I thank her a million times over for writing down what she’s taught and what she’s learned. Every single person who touches the earth we live on needs more of Ginger’s voice in their head.— Afton Montgomery, Adult Frontlist Buyer
Winner of a 2020 Border Regional Library Association Southwest Book Award
“Truly transcendent.” —Jessica Lustig, New York Times Book Review
This riveting memoir follows professional horse trainer Ginger Gaffney’s year-long odyssey to train a herd of neglected horses at an alternative prison ranch in New Mexico. Working with her is a small team of ranch “residents,” men and women who are each uniquely broken by addiction and incarceration. Gaffney forms a bond with them as profound as the kinship and trust the residents discover among the troubled horses. Through these unforgettable characters—both animal and human—Half Broke tells a new kind of recovery story and speaks to the life-affirming joy of finding a sense of belonging.
About the Author
Ginger Gaffney is a top-ranked horse trainer. She received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and her work has been published in Tin House and Utne Reader. She lives in Velarde, New Mexico.
You will remember [these] tenacious and utterly winning people… for a long, long time, and you will never forget the horses.
— Pam Houston, author of Deep Creek
[Half Broke] shows a side of New Mexico that is seldom seen?the poverty and the struggle, but also the hopefulness and odd beauty of spirit within the people and the horses.
— Leslie Marmon Silko, author of Ceremony
Half Broke—with its painful candor and spare, incisive prose—is captivating.
— Michael Upchurch - Seattle Times
Fascinating.… Some of the most compelling characters here don’t speak in words: They are horses. And in Gaffney’s story, they come alive.
— Deborah Hopkinson - BookPage
With sensitive, soul-bearing prose, Gaffney weaves together her personal experiences as a horse trainer with the struggles of damaged humans and damaged horses. I was also moved by the depth of vulnerability and intuition of the horses. As Lorin Lindner’s Birds of a Feather reveals for traumatized parrots and soldiers, so Half Broke reveals for horses and parolees.
— Jonathan Balcombe, author of What a Fish Knows
Ginger Gaffney is a bold and original talent.… Savor this book, and then buy a copy for your best friend.
— Anne Hillerman, New York Times best-selling author
Gaffney pulls off the impressive feat of translating horses and humans. She creates lyricism through experience, landscape, and empathy.
— Gretchen Lida - Washington Independent Review of Books
This marvelous memoir, peopled with folks in serious trouble of one kind or another, and the horses they care for, creatures with their own sophisticated ways of communicating, taught me as much about language as have my seventy-seven years on the planet.
— Abigail Thomas, author of What Comes Next and How to Like It
Half Broke is the rare gift of a story exquisitely told, a book that shows us how to save ourselves by saving what we’ve left behind.
— Nickole Brown, author of To Those Who Were Our First Gods
Heartfelt and healing, Half Broke asks us to look at horses and ourselves in a new way. A very moving book for all animal lovers from a true horse whisperer.
— Brenda Peterson, author of Wolf Nation: The Life, Death, and Return of Wild American Wolves