Believing In Horses
Coastal Style Magazine
The best gifts are those whose value far exceeds their actual cost. A prime example of this is the gift of literature, which, when done properly, not only can stay with someone throughout their life but also help mold the person they ultimately become. So, the next time you’re considering such a gift for, say, your adolescent daughter, consider Valerie Ormond’s Believing in Horses.
Set in Bowie, MD, Believing in Horses is the charming story of Sadie Navarro, a 12-year-old girl who has arrived on the Eastern Shore as the latest in the many stops of her dad’s Navy career.
Though these constant uprootings are unsettling to Sadie and her only sibling, 16-year-old-brother Austin, they are nonetheless a resilient clan — a fact that is certainly tested when the kids learn that their dad has been deployed to Afghanistan for a year.
As the fulfillment of a longstanding wish and as a well-timed conciliatory gesture for being such a good little trooper, Sadie’s parents decide to get her a horse. Their choice is a 4-year-old Andalusian-Arabian-American Saddlebred mix named “Color Me Lucky.” At 15.1- hands high, with a sweet disposition and intelligence to match, “Lucky” is the perfect horse for Sadie. As Sadie puts Lucky through his paces — and Lucky puts Sadie through hers — they meet a diverse cast of characters along the way — from the kind and benevolent to the shady and even downright dangerous.
But Sadie is a girl with as much passion and character as her new equine companion, so when she learns of 10 horses slated for the auctioneer’s block, their uncertain fate immediately propels her to action.
The story of Believing in Horses is one of a young girl finding her voice and the strength to fight for others while simultaneously finding those same things for herself. It’s not so much a coming-of-age as it is a coming-of-self, a discovery of a central character component that likely foreshadows the woman her grandchildren will one day come to know and love.
Both appropriately and effectively, the book is targeted to older children and adolescents. There are no big words, sex, violence or other adult situations of any kind. Neither are there any existentialist crises or deep plumbing into the depths of the human psyche. However, you will learn plenty of interesting stuff along the way about horses and their proper care. As such, Believing in Horses is a 195-page gentle breeze of a read that is virtually guaranteed to entertain your child for many hours while imparting a sense of commitment to a cause and the virtues of altruistic pursuits.
Were I to offer one critique, it would be that the character of Austin, Sadie’s brother, emerged as a compelling figure in the narrative and, as such, might have been more fully developed. A nice future project for the author to consider would be to write a sequel that casts the lovable Sadie and her enigmatic yet charismatic older brother as co-protagonists in a tale of conflict that fully realizes a truly dynamic brother-sister team. This might make for some highly worthwhile reading for children and teens of both genders.
Either way, Believing in Horses is definitely worth believing in.
Military Writers Society of America
Believing in Horses holds more than one lesson for readers. One held within the other. Sadie the focus of the story has to deal with and cope with her Dad’s deployment to Afghanistan, a difficult event for families in general, more so for children. The overarching story is one of change and how a young girl rises above hardship to help horses.
Today far too much is in the media about how “kids” are just not responsible, to interested in themselves, music and cell phones. Sadie takes on a job that many adults would walk away from and many horse owners would run from and do. Overcoming the hardships, roadblocks, bad people and even good meaning people, she moves forward with her goal of helping horses.
There is a less publicized story of what happens to unwanted and poorly cared for pets. Ormond has spun a story that inspires. This is a book that all school age children should read and in light of the economic situation in this country shows what dedication and determination can accomplish. If a twelve year old can do this each of us could.
The Little Red Riding Book
The Horse Studio
The Little Red Riding Book Jonathan Boudin For Ages 6-12 years. Educational horse story that weaves horsemanship learning with colorful characters and a charming story.
Join two best friends, Jenny and Jason as they discover the magical connection of riding a horse. Share in their first encounters and experiences of horsemanship as they learn how to take care of their horses, brush and saddle them, become aware of safety issues around these powerful and gentle creatures, and realize that horses have minds of their own!
TheHorseStudio.com review. This story includes two happy horse characters that are based on the author's actual horses Percy and Amaretta. The two children Jenny and Jason quickly discover all sorts of interesting things about horses as they are introduced to the joys of horse riding. A clever story that is aptly told which combines a true learning experience with a lovely tale. Some excellent drawings of bridles and other tack and equipment, clearly labeled with the appropriate parts plus some excellent line drawings depicting horses and children as they learn the basics of riding. Some good instruction such as turning the horse right with no rein aid by simply turning yourself to the right at the waist and learning reins are not for pulling, plus safety tips and grooming and handling are just part of the story. A delightful book and introduction for the young rider headed off for their first riding lesson.
Saddle Up Magazine
Reviewer: Greg Roman
(Saddle Up received a copy of this book at Thunderbird's Western Family Festival in Langley, BC and we were happy to give it a review... and Two Thumbs Up!)
In the author's introduction note, he writes that this book is not an instruction manual or a substitute for instruction.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Little Red Riding Book, although the urge to read it out loud made for a more dramatic effect. It will be an excellent book to read to a young person who is or may be interested horses (possibly that bedtime story?). Let them dream!
An added benefit for those of us past our fifties, it is in large print, so you may not even need your glasses when reading it for yourself or that special young person in your life.
The illustrations are very well done and make the book more alive. I felt that I would get charcoal pencil on my fingertips when I was touching the drawings... they were so lifelike and real. There are a variety of illustrations showing the different tack and their parts, types of grooming products, how to's, etc.
It's a delightful story of two young children, Jenny and Jason, who are experiencing horses for the first time. Mrs. Wallensworth (owner of the riding stable) and her assistant Kate give them the information and helpful hints to assist them in their journey of discovery, and you are along for the ride (very informative).
Any person reading the book will fondly remember the first time that they themselves got
on the back of a horse and experienced the connection and magic that overtakes us.
The Little Red Riding Book by Jonathan Boudin. Published by J.B. Max Publishing.
Illustrations by Marti Adrian.
The equine stars of the book are based on the author's actual horses, Percy and Amaretta.
The Dog And Pony Shop
The Little Red Riding Book is an effortless and enjoyable introduction to horses, safe riding habits, and early lessons, without becoming tedious. The excitement of 2 city children who are simply out-of-their-minds-excited about connecting with horses is so well conveyed by the author, whose firsthand experience with that excitement is obvious. The local flavor of the book will have the readers guessing as to the identities of the people, places, and horses in the book, because this is, after all, a local author drawing on local experiences.
The illustrations of the horses are beautiful pencil sketches, showing a serious study of horse structure and especially the kindness of the horses’ facial expressions. The illustrator has also captured the children’s warmth and excitement, although not with the same detail as she has mastered in her equine subjects.
Written for children ages 4 – 8 years old, I nonetheless found the book a delightful read, and I am 70! It can be read to the younger children and the older ones can read it for themselves, but it will still challenge their reading skills, especially phonetics, as they roll their tongues around words like “Mrs. Wallensworth” “authentic” and “agitated”. They will enjoy mastering the vocabulary as well as improving their knowledge of that favorite subject, horses and ponies.