Photo Credit: Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune)

Book Review — “Last Chance Mustang” by Mitchell Bornstein

Update: Congratulations to our winners of Win This Book — Erica Cole, Dina D’Argent and Ann Bennett.

by Mitchell Bornstein
Review by Vivian Grant Farrell

I HAVE OFTEN wondered what happens to the tiny percentage of America’s free-roaming wild horses the Bureau of Land Management occasionally adopt out to the public from the vast numbers the agency stockpiles following its roundups.

I have read accounts of how the BLM let just about anybody take a Mustang regardless of their experience with horses. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out some of these adoptions do not end well for the horse.

The story of one such Mustang — Samson — is told by author, lawyer and horse gentler Mitchell Bornstein in his book entitled “Last Chance Mustang”.

By the time this tortured and dangerous Mustang ends up in Bornstein’s hands it certainly looks as if it very well may be Samson’s last chance for getting the help he needs to stay alive.

The story begins when Bornstein meets a terrified Samson, standing backed up in a dark corner of a dairy barn, filthy and in terrible condition because no one can get near him to manage the horse’s basic needs.

For the first six years of the captive Mustang’s life, Samson passed through the hands of a succession of cruel owners who perpetuated one horror after another upon the wild, proud and spirited Stallion.

When Samson tries to escape their brutality, they rope him and repeatedly beat him into submission. As a result, Samson suffers emotional and bodily scars and becomes a danger to everything and everyone around him.

But that day, in that barn, Bornstein sees something — catches a spark in the wild Mustang’s eye, a slight signal in the horse’s body language — that maybe, just maybe it isn’t too late, that all has not been lost.

Bornstein’s heart goes out to this iconic wild horse who has been torn from his family and the only home he has ever known, robbed forever of his freedom and who now, because of the gross cruelties and indignities committed against him, stands a nervous, quivering mass of fear and anger.

Right then, right there, Bornstein commits himself to doing whatever he can to help Samson.

In his book “Last Chance Mustang” Mitchell Bornstein writes a stunning account of the hard won successes and heartbreaking setbacks he and his wild horse patient experience during a remarkable journey together towards rehabilitation and hoped for redemption.

While telling Samson’s story Bornstein interlaces his powerful narrative with a history of man’s treatment of the American Mustang going back decades adding even more significance to this impressive work.

As many poignant moments as there are in “Last Chance Mustang” the one that touches me the most and where my heart most often returns is where Bornstein describes Samson standing alone quietly in the corner of a paddock, holding his proud head high, looking west, his gaze fixed, his heart forever longing — for freedom and home.


Featured Image: Stacy Wescott, Chicago Tribune

Book cover:

RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


I highly recommend this book to horse lovers, horse rescuers, horse trainers, animal lovers, healers of all types including veterinarians, for the classroom (7th grade and up) and students of American history especially the wild west.

I also recommend this book to lawmakers and politicians. Most of all I recommend this book to every single employee of the Department of the Interior — most specifically the Bureau of Land Management.

Last Chance Mustang by Mitchell Bornstein Book Cover. Image:


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Buy Last Chance Mustang at


Mitchell Bornstein on ‘Last Chance Mustang’; by Donald Liebenson; Chicago Tribune newspaper online; June 25, 2015.

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