by Glenn Balch
Another old but good horse story from Glenn Balch (but still doesn't live up to my favorite.) This one is about a teenage boy on a ranch who admires the wild horses that run in the hills. He feels certain there's some good blood in those wild horses, and has his eye on a particular black colt. But his father adamantly claims none of them are worth the effort to catch and train- they're just loco, or their spirits would break at being caught and tamed. Ben gets his wish however, when one Christmas he returns home from school (boarding in the city with his aunt to attend high school) and finds that the black colt was caught just for him and "green-broke" by the ranch hand.
Ecstatic at owning the black colt, Ben's joy soon turns to dismay when he realizes he won't be able to train the horse himself when he's away at school. Eventually he finds a solution in boarding his horse at a nearby riding stable in town, but that doesn't quite solve his problem. Ben has to work in the stables to pay for his horse's keep, and with schoolwork as well, there's little time left to ride his horse. Compounding the issue is his embarrassment when a girl he admires at school finds out he works mucking out stalls. At first she doesn't believe he has a wild horse, then she doesn't believe Ben can ride it. He's determined to prove himself to her as a horseman, and finally gets his chance in a spectacular way.
This book was a slow start. Nice enough, but not very interesting until it got to the part where he was trying to juggle school, work and horse-training, as well as impress the girl. Later in the story Ben takes his horse back to the ranch for the summer, where he moves on from just teaching it to be obedient to commands and introduces the horse to ropes and cattle, intending to make it a skilled cow pony. All the while he's anxious to show his father that this wild horse amounted to something good.
It's a pretty good story, if you like horses. I got a chuckle out of the horse's name: Inkpot. Ben's sister named it after it was caught, before he came home for Christmas and had a chance to name it himself. He didn't like the name at first, but it stuck. I thought it was funny.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 252 pages, 1949