Monday, September 8, 2014

Racing to Heaven by Harriet Tramer

Racing to Heaven by Harriet Tramer is a different type of racetrack story. It's told from the point of view of a young female jockey who died while following her passion - galloping horses.

An unstable teen is sent to her aunt's ranch where she meets a chestnut stallion who communicates with her and teaches her how to ride - or is this a dream? Anyway, with Big Red as her constant companion, the girl "improves" her attitude and eventually she finds her way to the local track where she works with a young trainer and rides thoroughbreds in races. He puts her a "crazy" horses, which becomes her downfall.

Brenda (the reader doesn't learn her name until page 26) goes through a major physical and emotional transformation all because of Big Red.

This novel is part reality, part fantasy but the main character is likable and the writing style is as if you are reading her diary.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hung Up in Bemidji by Kathy Cohen

Hung Up in Bemidji by Kathy Cohen is a combination of rodeo story, mystery and family drama.

Cooper Lydell is a horseman trying to make ends meet while his son heals after a rodeo injury. He's called back to the rodeo scene to replace a murdered "barrel" man - the clown who distracts the bull when the rider falls - and tries to avoid being killed by the bulls and the murderer after a second man is killed.

Coop, his son and a few friends attempt to solve the mystery - in a comical but well-meaning way.

This well written story is exciting and even funny in parts, plus it's educational about the rodeo scene.

The only equine related error I noted was the term of "bute" where the medication should have been called DMSO. Bute is a pill, similar to aspirin for horses; DMSO is a liniment that seeps through the skin and gives you the taste of garlic in your mouth. Both are for pain, but for horses not humans.

At the time of this post, Amazon offers the e-book for free!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse

Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton is a true story about an equine Korean War hero that is not well known but has a memorial complete with an amazing statue.

The Korean born racehorse was purchased by the military to haul heavy ammunition up a steep, rugged terrain to the soldiers who manned the "Reckless" rifle. This mare was so dedicated that she made several trips up without a human leading her, and with bombs blasting around her!

Her prior military history is described as well as her retirement in the states, her foals and her quirky but lovable personality.

Hutton wrote a beautiful story about the details of the war and the many lives that the little mare impacted. It also shares numerous photographs of her and her fellow soldiers.

A "must read" for all horse lovers - and even those just interested in the history of the Korean War.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Shadows Breathe by Kathleen Marentes

This equine saga about a passionate horse lover named Kara Springs begins when she first takes lessons at Falling Waters Stable as an eight-year-old. The barn manager, George, and instructor, Sarah, are so impressed with her intuition about horses that she's offered a job to work at the stable. Then the story skips to when Sarah is in high school, and now a trainer at the same stable.

When George moves away, Kare is horrified to witness the new trainer, Ryan, abusing the horses in the name of controlling them. Instead of confiding in Sarah or the stables owners, Kara hatches a plan with her friends to rescue the horse. But it doesn't stop at one, or even a few. She steals horses from another pair of horse thieves as well as the ones belonging to Ryan. An exciting race ensues with lots of obstacles, including an emotional one with a fellow worker.

Although the story is accurate in its equine setting and details, I found it too long with lots of repeated internal dialogue and scenes that didn't advance the story. Plus, several points were unrealistic: George was an adult when Kara starts there, but as a teen she has a crush on him; Kara, who at first seems like a responsible good girl, yet she decides not to contact her superiors about the early abuse; the whole rounding up the herd at the end just doesn't seem plausible.

A fun fictional ride, but please don't try this way of saving horses at home!