Jul 22, 2018

A Matter of Feel

Dressage Chronicles Book II
by Karen McGoldrick

So many horse books I read are written for kids; this one is for adults. The narrator is a young rider, working in a dressage stable in exchange for lessons. It's got all the details about working around horses, rigorous training, travel to shows, the hectic tense atmosphere there, stiff competition, backbiting among staff and so on. There's wealthy patrons, shady horse deals, down-to-earth stable hands who just love the animals, a bit of romance, and a lot about horses. Which I liked, except I often didn't know what they were talking about. All the precises moves and terms, I was just clueless. I'm at a disadvantage not having read the first book, where the main character ditches her normal life to work at the stable and takes the first steps to learning dressage. That one probably laid out the basics. And introduced the characters better. Here, I never really got a distinct feel for the narrator herself, or the other human characters either, actually. I kept struggling to understand why certain people despised others, not knowing their history. So the people stuff was a bit awkward - and sometimes boring. The personalities of the horses themselves, stood out a lot more clearly. Some of the passages that describe distinctly how a rider learned to work with the horse, to teach it a new move, to understand its behavior and reshape that- very interesting. But then the book would slide back into stiff dialog and choppy narration that often fell short of holding my interest. Unfortunately, the writing style overall didn't quite work for me. I had to make myself finish this one, even though some intense drama crops up in the end.

I borrowed this book from a member of my extended family, who is herself a dressage rider. She says the details are fairly accurate to what goes on in the sport.

Rating: 2/5                 463 pages, 2013

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