Thursday, March 26, 2009

Working Trot
Jessie Haas
1983, Greenwillow Books

Working Trot. This is a pace between the collected and the medium trot in which a horse not yet trained and ready for collected movements shows himself properly balanced and, remaining on the bit, goes forward with even, elastic steps and good hock action.
USEF Handbook

James McLeish is uncertain that he's making the right decision when he arrives at his uncle's farm. His fellow graduates from Phillips Exeter are spending their summer partying before freshman year at Harvard and Yale, but he's about to skip his banker daddy's path to a Mercedes and a tie. Over the course of a year, as he works with the Lipizzaner/Arab stallion Ghazal and the farm's other horses, he slowly absorbs the rythym of what he thinks his life will be - dedicated to the art of producing a fine, fleeting perfection in a horse.

Well-written, but not wonderful. Oddly, the very thing that makes it almost unique in horse lit is what detracts from it - the conversations between trainer and rider as James struggles to master a new discipline and his uncle struggles to keep his patience. They're fascinating, but dialogue isn't the author's forte. Much of what the characters say seems artificial. It's an unusual book overall. Mostly, horse book heroines are girls still in grade or high school, riding hunter/jumper or western, and dealing with children's issues like beating out the rich girl with the fancy horse at the big show, or worrying about having their pony sold if their algebra grades don't improve (if I'd had a pony, he'd have been a goner). James is a guy, a high school grad who's elected skip college and become a working student at the farm of a relative, who just happens to be a highly respected dressage trainer whose wife is a highly respected h/j rider. Much of the book is about how to decide what to do with your life at a time when you start realizing that every door you open slams another shut, somewhere else - your options are narrowing.

Practical Information

Ghazal - grey Arab/Lipizzaner dressage stallion
Dynasty Two - chestnut mare jumper-turned-broodmare
Kubbadar - black pony gelding
Ginseng - brown gelding with stopping issues
Josy - Morgan mare
Windswept Rob Roy - bay Morgan gelding
Lady Peregrine - jumper mare
Brucie (dog) - collie

James is tremendously worried about his social standing if he eschews banking for horsemanship. He's also very critical of the girls at the farm, deciding that one's 'sturdiness' is better than a thin girl who might get 'sloppy fat' as she ages.


Just the cover, unknown il.

Other Books by Author
Keeping Barney
A Horse Like Barney
Uncle Daney's Way

Early Chapter Books
Jigsaw Pony
Birthday Pony
Runaway Radish
Beware The Mare
A Blue For Beware
Be Well, Beware
Beware And Stogie

Picture Books
Scamper And The Horse Show
Appaloosa Zebra: A Horse Lover's Alphabet

Safe Horse, Safe Rider
Hoofprints - Horse Poems

Author Website

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