Every Thursday, “Today” entertainment reporter Jill Rappaport brings you the latest Hollywood news. But now she's the one making news — as an author. Rappaport and photographer Linda Solomon, who also happens to be her sister, were invited on the “Today” show to talk about their book, “People We Know, Horses They Love.” Here’s an excerpt:
In the process of creating, writing, photographing, and totally immersing ourselves in this labor of love, we discovered plenty about these people we all feel like we know. It might come as a surprise to some, but the ties that bind this remarkable group of people together have little to do with the golden privilege of celebrity and everything to do with how important, enduring, and enjoyable their relationships are with their horses. All have a deep appreciation for these marvelous creatures, along with a love for nature, freedom, and openness that is fostered in the presence of horses.
As you’ll come to discover yourself, some of the notables featured in the book generously contribute their time and money to take care of horses — and sometimes these strong, beautiful, and noble animals take care of them. We also noticed firsthand that how someone rides horses is frequently a reflection of how they live their life — boldly, adventurously, and with a sense of accomplishment.
Every story and image in “People We Know, Horses They Love” provides a glimpse into a very private life. We chose Robert Redford for the cover because he truly embodies the heart and soul of the book. Sundance, his magnificent ranch and refuge, began with a $500 purchase of two acres and a little cabin and has grown into a sanctuary for horses and an inspiring example of successful land preservation.
The book also profiles Richard Gere and his wife, Carey Lowell, who are strong supporters of the Chief Joseph Foundation, which focuses on Nez Perce cultural preservation, emphasizing programs that focus on Appaloosas, Richard and Carey’s beloved breed. Likewise, Hilary Duff is making a difference in the lives of wild horses as the Youth Ambassador for Return to Freedom, the American Wild Horse Sanctuary, by bringing to the forefront the plight of the American Wild Horse, which is in danger of being lost forever.
Some stories describe defining moments in a life, such as legendary Kim Novak’s exclusive profile, while others offer pure enjoyment and good memories of great horse times gone by. Renowned horse gentler Buck Brannaman regards horses as equine mentors and credits them with saving him. Jack Palance, the epitome of the down-and-dirty big screen cowboy, reminisces about his role as the blacker-than-black Jack Wilson in the 1953 Western classic “Shane.” Now in his 80s, Jack no longer rides, but he got back in the saddle again for us.
We were able to capture Hollywood leading man Dennis Quaid riding freely with his little dog Clyde across his Big Sky ranch. And we caught up with beautiful Brazilian cover girl Gisele Bundchen, who sits astride her favorite horse, Sandrino, with the passion and pure abandon that characterizes her life as one of the world’s most sought-after supermodels. Kelsey and Camille Grammer, meanwhile, find joy and contentment in getting away from the rigors of Hollywood at their exquisite Malibu retreat with their beautiful steeds. And Jeff Bridges took the time to reflect on the set of “Seabiscuit” about the remarkable horse that gave hope to millions during the Depression.
We have several stories about parent-and-child relationships and how they have been strengthened by their shared love of horses. Alfre Woodard cherishes the bond that was formed with her 12-year-old daughter, Mavis, through her love of horses. Chevy Chase muses over the almost comic interaction that he, his wife, Jayni, and three daughters share with their horses, Bob and Candy. Katharine Ross reflects on how she rode up to her eighth month of pregnancy, stopping only when she literally could not get a leg up on her horse. Daughter Cleo Elliott grew up immersed in her mother’s passion for horses, which soon became her own. It was the New York City Mounted Police that opened up the world of horses for Whoopi Goldberg and gave the young girl who lived in the projects access to these remarkable animals. Her ultimate success eventually allowed her to fulfill her dreams and finally have a farm and horses of her own.
Hope, courage, and pure inspiration are common threads that run through these intimate stories and captivating images. Renowned jockey Julie Krone keeps on racing even after suffering injuries that would sideline most riders. The core of her strength is her 23-year-old Thoroughbred Peter Rabbit, who was such an important part of the family that he gave her mother the strength to battle cancer and helped Julie ultimately overcome her mother’s death. Aerosmith’s lead guitarist, Joe Perry, and his beautiful wife, Billie, adore their Friesians so much he even named his signature guitar after the breed.
Just like us, these people we sometimes emulate and frequently admire also love these angels that have the power to heal in many special ways and that give us such a sense of freedom, accomplishment, and pleasure. Those featured in “People We Know, Horses They Love” have all so graciously opened their hearts and homes to share with us — and you — a world that has so greatly enriched their lives and ours.
Excerpted from “People We Know, Horses They Love” by Jill Rappaport, Wendy Wilkinson and Linda Solomon. Copyright © 2004 by Jill Rappaport, Wendy Wilkinson and Linda Solomon. Published by Rodale Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.