Review by Luella Sumner.
Gillian saluted the judge, then urged Hawkeye at a canter toward the first fence. He jumped with room to spare. Gillian remembered her hands and kept them steady, letting Hawkeye come back into position at his own pace.
They circled at that same steady canter, Hawkeye changing his lead correctly after he landed. What a beauty, Gillian thought. What a brilliant, great horse! The next two jumps looked high, but Gillian knew they were not more than two feet, six inches. Hawkeye took them easily. Gillian smiled. They'd done it again. Two good jumps. They circled the far end of the arena at a rocking canter.
Hawkeye took the far fence and then cantered five strides diagonally across the arena to the fence nearest the judge. Again he jumped eagerly, giving Gillian enough time to place her hips and shoulders in a straight line, lean her weight in the stirrups and keep her hands steady. Another good jump.
They circled again. As before, Hawkeye changed his lead on landing, putting the correct foot forward at exactly the right time.
"Two more, Hawkeye. Let's ace this. Up and over. Come on, sweetie."
Hawkeye took the last two fences with energy and a great lift from his back feet. There was a burst of applause from the spectator stand. Gillian grinned. That felt fantastic. She patted Hawkeye. What a horse!
Riding Scared is one of a series of sports stories for young people. Gillian is a talented young girl, whose parents are estranged. Her mother is busy, overworked, and worrying over finances; her father is absent, but also concerned that his daughter is spending too much time with artistic pursuits, and not enough time toughening up to face the real world.
Despite her mother's lack of approval, Gillian's father decides to pay for riding lessons to teach Gillian how to jump at competitions. At first, Gillian is scared of the horses, feels inferior to another student, Mike, and is not sure that she wants to compete in shows. Gradually, with the help of her friend, Carley, and Carley's very supportive mother, Gillian learns to trust her horse, her friends, and her family, and to balance her love of painting and sketching with her developing love of show jumping. Even the obnoxious Mike earns a place in her affections.
This story will be of interest mostly to girls, and girls who love horses at that. There is a wealth of background information on show jumping, with a little art appreciation thrown in. The ups and downs of relationships within a divided family are treated with sensitivity and insight.
Luella Sumner is Head Librarian at the Red Rock Public Library, Red Rock, Ontario.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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