A horse finds a new home in the first installment of debut author Belove’s Sally Horse Chronicles for children.
Cotton Candy Sally, a competitive “quarter horse,” lives an idyllic country life with her horse friends Dutch, Hunting Pony, Comet, and Solomon at Gone Away Farm in Iowa. But change comes when Sally’s owner, Lauren, is forced to close the barn following Lauren’s parents’ divorce. Sally and the other horses are loaded into trailers and driven from Iowa to a horse auction in New Jersey. There, Sally and Solomon are separated from their friends and sent to Bernadette’s Riding School in the heart of New York City. Bernadette is a kind, no-nonsense trainer, and she hopes that having a blue-ribbon winner like Sally in her riding school will raise its profile. But the trainer’s patience and expertise can’t conquer Sally’s fear of the city—in particular, her aversion to riding on busy streets alongside fast traffic. Terrified of cars, Sally starts throwing her riders and becomes unmanageable. Soon she’s relegated to her stall and rarely taken out, even into the training ring; Bernadette, despite her affection for Sally, can’t afford to keep a horse that no one can ride. But there’s one more person who believes in the horse: a troubled young rider named Kara who finds a special connection with the wary animal. Belove’s attention to detail when describing the world of horse training is superb, which is unsurprising given her background in the field; she once attended a riding school in New York City and continues to be involved in dressage and other aspects of riding. She seamlessly weaves training and equipment jargon into the prose, although it would have been helpful if some of the terms were defined more clearly for readers who are new to horses. The characterizations of the horses themselves are also well-done; Belove gives Sally a strong personality, for example, without making her seem too much like a human being. The plot is straightforward and predictable and the ending a little too neat, but it fits with the book’s uplifting theme and tone.
A wholesome tale that will appeal to horse aficionados of the younger set.