At this point in his life/career, 86-year-old William Shatner couldn’t be blamed for wanting to take it easy a little bit, but that does not seem to be in the actor’s plans at all. Besides being a Star Trek icon, an Emmy-winning actor on dramas like Boston Legal, a prolific author of more than 30 books, and a noted butcherer of Beatles songs, Shatner is also a bit of a horse enthusiast, and has many American Saddlebreds and Quarter Horses on his 360-acre farm in Kentucky. For more than 20 years, he’s also hosted William Shatner’s Hollywood Charity Horse Show (helped along by sponsors like Priceline and Wells Fargo).
So it’s not surprising that Shatner’s latest book is completely devoted to his favorite animal. The New York Post reports today that Spirit Of The Horse: A Celebration In Fact And Fable (published by Thomas Dunne Books) contains many of Shatner’s favorite horse-centered anecdotes. One of the most affecting includes his conversation with Superman Christopher Reeve, after he was paralyzed in a horse-riding accident:
“[Chris] couldn’t walk, he had no control over his body below his neck, he couldn’t even breathe without a ventilator,” Shatner says. “He said with his first breath, in about three phrases, ‘Tell me. How your horses are. And how much you love riding.’ Those words, the intonation, the longing he put into them—they will stay with me always.”
But some of the stories sway into the trippy, as when Shatner talks about how horses invade his dreams (unsurprising, since he seems to spend so much time with them):
“My own sleep is sometimes filled with Centaur-like imagery of being one with the horse,” Shatner writes. “It will start with me atop the horse galloping across the field, the horse’s head visible ahead, his eyes becoming my eyes as if it were me galloping.”
This affection for the stately horse may have started thanks to, of all things, a Star Trek episode. In season one’s “Shore Leave,” the Post reports, “Shatner and Leonard Nimoy filmed an Old West-type scene alongside a peaceful horse.” Shatner writes: “Standing near a settled horse, with no pressure to do anything other than absorb the morning… that was magic.”