Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sun Dust Devil Horse (originally Sun Dust)

Sun Dust Devil Horse (originally Sun Dust)

Eva Zumwalt, il. Zenowij Onyshkewych

1976, Xerox Education Publications

This ranch would be her refuge; she would be safe from that kind of hurt here. Dad would call it running away, she knew, and he wouldn't be proud of her attitude. But maybe there are times when everyone had to run and hide.

16-year-old Laurie Campbell permanently damaged her right leg in a car accident, and now wants nothing more than to hide away from the awkwardness of her classmates and old life. Luckily, her parents decide to relocate from Washington D.C. to the New Mexico ranch where her dad grew up. Dad's a journalist who's away on assignment to a war zone, but Laurie and her mother head to Tierra Encantada (Enchanted Land) in early June. She finds it welcoming -

This was a beautiful house for all its informal sprawl. It was plastered and stuccoed white, and the tile roof was a soft, warm red. The heavy beams across the ceilings of the rooms were old and very strong, and looked as if they might withstand any possible storm. It was a sheltering kind of house.

- and her grandparents are thrilled to see them, but Laurie quickly realizes that she's not going to be allowed to hide away. Grandpa raises Quarter Horses and is intent on making a rider out of her, and enlists 17-year-old hired hand Dave Elliot to teach her. It helps that Dave is cute. It doesn't help that he seems to be best friends with good-looking Randa Meredith, or that Randa's got a bit of an overbearing personality. The two girls quickly tangle, and become de facto enemies.

About a half-dozen horses were approaching at a hard run. They swept nearer, led by a dark-gold filly with with black mane and tail who held her slender head flung high as if in challenge... The dun had no white markings at all to break the shining gold of her skin, which darkened to bronze at the knees and then to black on all four slender legs. Her head was small and well-shaped, the eyes intelligent and wide apart.

Meanwhile, Laurie's attempts to resist her granddad's plans to make her a rider lead her into ownership of the wild filly Sun Dust. The dun 2-year-old is the daughter of a mare so aggressive she had to be put down, and her behavior is wild enough to make everyone doubt she's going to be much of an improvement. As Dave works to break the filly, he also teaches Laurie to ride on a quiet, mature horse.

Laurie is a convincingly reluctant heroine; her family and friends push her out of the shadows where she's trying to hide, and her own conscience forces her to complete the tasks they set her. She's a little too forbearing, sometimes, to be real, as when she regrets arguing with Randa. But she learns to ride quickly (possibly too quickly), and makes a very credible bid for Rodeo Queen and as a contestant in a barrel race.

There is just a hint of the 'oh, you're such a natural' in this story, but it's far overshadowed by the emphasis on Laurie's hard work. I'm not sure how others will regard the training aspects of Dave's breaking in of Sun Dust, but I'm not really equipped to critique it.

Horses (all Quarter Horses)

Count's Holly - roan mare

Count Me In - black colt with 4 socks; foal to above

Sun Dust - 2yo dun filly

Sunburst - dam of above

Dark Knight - black gelding, barrel racer, Randa's

Mirage - young sorrel gelding with blaze

In Depth - stallion

Dust Devil - golden dun stallion

Cricket - 28yo broodmare

Capitan - black gelding

Blue Boy - gelding

About the Author

Zumwalt was born in Eunice, New Mexico, and raised in Artesia. She appears to have been a writer of Gothic romances.

Other books (romances)


The Elusive Heart

Love's Sweet Charity

Mansion of Dark Mists

Masquerade of Evil

The Unforgiving

When the Heart Remembers

Wayward Lady

Yearning Years


Artesia Chamber of Commerce

1 comment:

Laura Wilson-Anderson said...

I loved this book when I was a kid! Thanks to your post, I remembered the correct name (I was putting Sun Dust together as one word) and saw the link to Amazon. I have it in my cart along with Gypsy. I had so many horse books when I was a kid... the only ones that I kept were the Black Stallion series. My mom had a friend with a daughter who loved horses, so the rest of my books went to her. I should have written down all the titles! Would have made it easier to find them again.