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One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of…

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

by Mandy Retzlaff

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I enjoyed this book so much I didn't want to end. The author made it feel like you were there with them. I love horses so the story line kept me right there. Wonderful book! Would recommend the book to those who have a love of horses, interested in the conflict in Rwanda/Zimbabwe and history buffs in general. ( )
  DebStransky | Aug 12, 2017 |
As I love stories in Africa, I loved this one of Mandy and Pat Retzlaff adventures in Zimbabwe and later Mozambique. Their love of horses comes through so clearly and helpedmake this book a tender recollection. They experienced so much corruption by Mugabe's war vets . The injustices , like having to pay bribes, pay for wrongly accused horses destroying maize fields etc, made my blood boil. I really liked these people who love and care for horses. ( )
  Smits | Feb 25, 2016 |
When Pat and Mandy Retzlaff settled on Crofton farm in lush Zimbabwe, they imagined giving their children the same sort of idyllic African childhood that Pat had experienced and leaving them the thriving farm as legacy when they were grown. For a while, it seemed as if that would be the case as they threw themselves into farming tomatoes and tobacco, taking their kids for rides into the wild African bush on their favorite horses, and making friends with the family on the neighboring farm. Unfortunately, the life they had dreamed for themselves and their children was not to become a reality. Instead, the couple became wrapped up in the living nightmare of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, where farms were often stolen from their rightful white owners to be redistributed back to the African natives, or, more accurately, Mugabe's political cronies.

The Retzlaffs and their neighbors on Two Tree farm were driven under threat of violence from their homes and livelihoods in one shot, leaving them on the run for safety with their beloved horses in a nation that would continue to grow increasingly hostile to its white population. Fleeing from farm to farm in search of a safe haven, each time refusing to leave their horses to uncertain, violent fates, Pat and Mandy soon got a reputation as being the "horse people," and many farmers and ranchers fleeing Zimbabwe sought them out to take in the horses that would otherwise be left behind. Eventually forced to leave behind the country they loved, One Hundred and Four Horses is Mandy's story of how she and her husband managed to ferry a nation's abandoned horses to new life.

I loved One Hundred and Four Horses. It proved to be a huge reading funk-buster for me. After struggling with a few books that were lackluster and whose characters seemed too affected for real life, the authenticity of Mandy Retzlaff's voice was a breath of fresh air. The writing, while occasionally artless, gave the impression of being written letters by a well-loved friend going through an incredible trial. Retzlaff's love for her kids and her occasionally hot-tempered, always determined husband shines through in her writing. Furthermore, the couple's love and admiration for their horses, both the ones that started out as theirs and the ones that they adopted along the way, penetrates Retzlaff's narrative, so much so that I felt as if I knew and loved the horses, too, and would practically be biting my nails as they were rustled out from under one dangerous situation or another.

This is a book that animal lovers will both love and hate. The Retzlaffs' actions in saving so many horses under such terrible circumstances were downright heroic and when things went their way, my heart soared. Unfortunately, bad situations were rife in two countries in Africa where the rule of law had gone by the wayside, and obviously, death, destruction and frustration follow. My heart was both warmed and broken at the same time as I experienced Mandy Retzlaff's roller coaster of a book. There were some occurrences that were truly difficult to read about, but the Retzlaffs' tale is so irresistible that there was no stopping until the last page was turned and the fate of the horses secured. ( )
  yourotherleft | Mar 15, 2014 |
This is a story that would make any animal lover proud. And for that very same reason many will choose to keep off this book, not realizing what the book really is about. My first impression based on the title was to keep hands off policy, and I almost missed a really good book.

One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile by Mandy Retzlaff is a heart-touching and beautiful story. It is a gripping story of one family's dogged determination to do something good in the midst of ruins in Zimbabwe under dictator Robert Mugabe.

Mandy Retzlaff, her husband Pat and their three children, along with four horses, arrived in Crofton, Zimbabwe to begin a new life. They spent over a decade leading a contented and happy life. But their happiness was short-lived. In 2002, they were told to leave Crofton within four hours. The sea of change sweeping over Zimbabwe was dramatic. A country once known as Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Once considered the breadbasket of Africa was now a devastated country, almost in total ruins. Its economy has plummeted beyond salvage. A free country was now under a dictator.

Though fearful for their own lives, the Retzlaffs refused to be cowed down. They kept moving from one friend's farm to the next, and kept on sheltering any horse in need. Soon, the number swelled to 104. And with all their horses they managed to escape to neighboring Zimbabwe.

Though not a great writer, Mandy has rendered in a lovable way a beautiful story that will touch the reader's heart. This book is not just about the Retlaffs' love for horses, it is also a book of history and adventure - about and in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. ( )
  khamneithang | Nov 6, 2013 |
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"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"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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