*A lovely achievement this, with facts that sing their factuality. Cast in the form of a novel of education, Cantu tells of the arrival of 17-year-old Toribio de Jbarra, an orphan, at the estate of Don Vito Cantu in New Spain (Mexico) in 1580. The elderly Cantu is a horse breeder of the finest stock in the hemisphere. He takes Toribio under his wing and teaches him the perfections of breeding and handling horses -- ""an equine academy without equal""--where the boy starts at the bottom as a vaquero. The highest point of his training is learning to put a horse through every elegant variation of movement using a single finger at the reins. His graduation exercise comes in Don Cantu's relentless pursuit of some stolen horses. How he recovers his stock is revealed in a denouement that is ingenious and perfectly told.