Sep 8, 2018

Dark Horse

by Jean Slaughter Doty

Nice horse story. Especially because it did something unexpected. It's about a middle-school girl who works at a horse stable in order to get riding lessons. Eventually she becomes good enough to be asked to ride some of the horses for exercise, and she goes along to shows to help the younger riders. There's a plain brown horse at the stable who came in looking underfed and ordinary. They feed him up and hope to sell him off soon. He starts jumping fences- nothing holds him in anywhere, which exasperates the staff until they just start ignoring him- letting him roam at will around the property. He has an odd, uncomfortable stride, so nobody really wants to ride him. One day the main character is asked to ride him, accompanying another kid on a fox hunt- this boy got injured and can't play soccer anymore, his mother is desperate to get him interested in something else and puts him on a horse to go along with a newly-reinstalled hunt in the area. Stuff happens, the two kids get separated from the rest of the hunt, end up following just the huntmaster over rough terrain and frightening jumps- and everyone finds out what a spectacular jumper the brown horse is. I was happily surprised to find myself reading a foxhunting episode in the middle of a story about horse shows, and wondered if the horse would now follow hounds. But his talent being discovered, the stable owners decided to enter him in jumping competitions- with our main girl riding him. He starts to get attention and accolades, and she fears he will soon be sold. Until things take a turn for the worst at the biggest competition she's ever been in. I like stories that surprise me, even though this one is simply told and there isn't a lot of character development. It was a fine read.

Rating: 3/5                158 pages, 1983

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I never got into horses or horse books but a lot of my friends did.