________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 11 . . . . January 23, 2009

cover Brigadier: Gentle Hero. (True Horse Stories; 5).

Judy Andrekson. Illustrated by David Parkins.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
88 pp., pbk., $8.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-904-7.

Subject Headings:
Brigadier (Horse)-Juvenile literature.
Police horses-Ontario-Toronto-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Animal heroes-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proofs.


Brigadier was in full remount training now, spending time each day on the lunge line, long lines, and under saddle, learning to respond more and more subtly to the cues for the walk, trot, canter, and rein back. He also began to learn the sidepass and pivot on the rear and fore legs, both of which would be crucial in crowd control situations.

Graham did most of the work with him, but as soon as he had shown that he had mastered his basic skills, different officers rode him each day, usually those who were not assigned to a specific horse of their own. These officers had all been through intensive training themselves and were taught to use a consistent style of riding, so the possibility of confusing a young horse was greatly reduced.

The frequent change in riders was considered beneficial, as a horse had to be able to do his job reliably, no matter who was on his back, because in this job there were frequent changes. It was also good training for the riders, who had to confidently handle any horse to which they were assigned, no matter how young or old, strong or lazy, cooperative, skittish, or stubborn it might be.

Every day Brigadier's confidence grew, along with his fitness level. As the routines become more ingrained, he became more energetic, and his personality began to shine through.

Citizens in the Toronto area might have seen Brigadier and his partner patrol schoolyards and parks. They might have seen him control traffic and crowds or search for missing people. Many may have gotten to hug him or pat him while he was attending a public relations event in their neighborhood. Brigadier was a well-loved and respected member of the Mounted Unit of the Toronto Police Department. From the time he was four years old, Brigadier worked hard every day for the department. In the five years he was there, he impressed many officers, bonded with a great number of people and, on the last day of his life, saved his partner.

internal art

     It was Sergeant Graham Acott who chose Brigadier (the Belgian draft cross formally known as Danny Boy) to become the next remount for the Mounted Unit of the Toronto Police Department. From a young age, Brigadier had a quiet temperament, a friendly disposition and a gentle personality. He developed no bad habits while growing up, and he proved he could endure not only rigorous training but long work hours. Every officer who partnered with Brigadier felt honored to work with him, and each had many good memories of him both on and off the job.

     Unfortunately, the last officer to work with Brigadier was Kevin Bradfield. On February 24, 2006, a man driving a van hit Brigadier. Kevin sustained neck and back injuries which sent him to the hospital, and Brigadier's injuries resulted in euthanasia. Although Brigadier was the first horse to be intentionally harmed while in service, he won't be remembered for only that reason. Judy Andrekson talked with many of the people who worked with Brigadier, and she integrated their memories and stories into this book to remind readers of the remarkable animal Brigadier was and how much he continues to be missed today.

     Young readers who enjoy nonfiction animal stories or horse stories will be particularly fond of this book. And for the readers who want to read more true horse stories, there are more books in Judy Andrekson's series which include the titles Miskeen: The Dancing Horse, Little Squire: The Jumping Pony and Fosta: Marathon Master.

     Author and animal lover, Judy Andrekson lived in Nova Scotia before moving to Alberta. When she's not writing about horses, she's working with them on a thoroughbred racing and breeding farm. She lives with her family in Sherwood Park, AB, where she also works as an educational assistant.

     David Parkins is an illustrator who has worked with many publishers in the UK, Canada and the USA. His illustrations can be found in school textbooks, the children's comic The Beano, and in several picture books and works of fiction. He also draws caricatures, political cartoons and illustrations for editorials. He lives in Ontario.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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