Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The White Colt (aka Run Wild, Run Free)

There is a genre in Brit writing that I do not seem able to find in American writing. The style is slow and deliberate, the setting natural or artistic, the action minimal but vastly important. Rumer Godden, Joyce Stranger and Vian Smith all spring to mind. This book belongs too.

The White Colt (aka Run Wild, Run Free)

David Rook

1967, E.P. Dutton (Scholastic)

When the wind picked them up in its boisterous arms and threw them ahead of it, the colt would gallop like Pegasus, hooves hardly seeming to touch the ground, long mane lashing Philip's face. At such times a horse's body takes on a quality that is almost terrifying... Speed, so remote in a car or an aeroplane, is suddenly an intensely personal reality.

A teenager who shies away from human contact becomes obsessed with a wild pony on the moors. When the pony vanishes, a neighbor helps Philip get over the loss by interesting him in falconry. Through their friendship, the boy begins to lose his fearful, odd ways and drifts closer to human society.

A very patient book that takes its time, returning often to the same problems and story instead of branching off into new ones. Philip's condition, which appears similar to autism, improves with aching, realistic slowness, as do his relationships with falcon and pony.

Practical Information

A lot on falconry, but some on riding a horse, including a wonderful section on learning to ride.


Philip -grey Dartmoor pony colt


The farmer and the retired military man are heroic, the little gray lawyer is deeply limited, unable to deal with people. The mother is clutching and clinging and someone initially dismisses her as the problem with the boy, but it seems more likely the remote father had something to do with a similarly remote child.

Other Information

Made into a film by Columbia, "Run Wild, Run Free" with John Mills, Sylvia Sims, Bernard Miles and Mark Lester.

IMDB for film

Other Books
The Ballad Of The Belstone Fox - also made into a film, The Belstone Fox
Neeka The Kestrel
Free Spirit
The White Ghost
Birds - Strange And Exotic

About the Author
Rook appears to have been an artist as well as a writer; he's listed as illustrator for several books, including some by Joyce Stranger.

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