Saturday, February 6, 2010

Show Ring Rogue (1963)

Show Ring Rogue
Patsey Gray, il. Sam Savitt
1963, Coward-McCann

Sheila's grown up middle-class amid the beauty of Hawaii, and her first touch of tragedy was a case of polio that's left her with a brace on one leg. The one exercise her doctor prescribes is the one she flatly refuses to consider; horseback riding is just too public and the reminders of how good she used to be just too painful. Fed up with her tantrums, her family ships her off to an old friend who trains show horses in California with orders to ride and get better. Furious and upset, Sheila's set to resist this until she meets the Rogue, a buckskin gelding whose horrific career as a picador's horse - working in the bullfighting world - has made him phobic about entering the show ring. With the helpless obsession of the horsey, Sheila falls hard for the Rogue. But can she convince the adults that the spooky, fearful horse can be safe for a rider with a handicap?

A beautiful look at a girl falling utterly in love with a horse, beyond reason and with no regard for the sense of it. The plot works nicely, the language is just right, and there's plenty of genuine horse feeling:

With a swinging walk he headed homeward through the woods, his back warm to sit on, shoulder muscles rippling, his mane swaying gently. Sheila couldn't resist reaching for it. As she had thought, it was silky, and his foretop that blew aside looked silky too. They were kind of dear and youngish on such a masculine creature. How a good grooming would improve him, she reflected. A brush, currycomb and rub rag, a bath and shampoo, greased hoofs, would make him truly gorgeous. Boldy she leaned sideways to catch glimpses of his black socks, then of his black mask. From up here she discovered another marking too, a slim black stripe from withers to tail. What amazing looks he had, added to personality! The longer Sheila rode him, the more elated she grew.

My only quibble with Gray is the lack of evocative description of landscapes. She does a much better job of interiors, but though most of her books are set in California, her few words on the world surround our heroines are not compelling. Interesting group of topics not often seen in horse fiction - trail riding classes, the mention of picadors, and a disabled heroine. Temporarily disabled, but still.

Rogue - buckskin gelding, black dorsal stripe; used in trail class
Ink Spot - black equitation horse
Dapple - grey

About the Author

According to the dust jacket of The Flag Is Up, Gray lived on a 30-acre ranch outside San Francisco, and raised Appaloosas and Quarter Horses. She was married with 4 children, and began writing while recovering from a riding accident.

Other books
Jumping Jack
Double Standards
Heads Up!
Galloping Gold
Horse In Her Heart
Doggone Roan
Loco The Bronc
4-H Horse
Diving Horse

The Flag Is Up

The Mysterious Buckskin (as Virginia Clark)

Barefoot A Thousand Miles (dog)

Star series
The Horse Trap
The Mysterious Buckskin
Star Bright
Star Lost

About the illustrator


Sam Savitt

Savitt wrote and illustrated dozens of books, and his portraits of horses and dogs are well-known. He lived on a farm in North Salem, New York, was married and had two children. He spent several years as the official artist for the U.S. Equestrian team. Several of his drawings are held at the National Sporting Library.


Sam Savitt website

New York Times obituary

Horse - Sam Savitt

National Sporting Library

Fiction written by Savitt

The Dingle Ridge Fox And Other Stories

Wild Horse Running

Midnight, Champion Bucking Horse

Step-A-Bit, The Story Of A Foal

A Horse To Remember

Vicki And The Black Horse

Vicki And The Brown Mare

Nonfiction written by Savitt

Draw Horses With Sam Savitt

The Art Of Painting Horses

Great Horses Of The U.S. Equestrian Team (with Bill Steinkraus)

One Horse One Hundred Miles One Day (about the Tevis Cup)
Rodeo Cowboys, Bulls And Broncos
Sam Savitt's True Horse Stories

No comments: