In honour of the 10 year anniversary of getting my horse I’m going with a bit of a horsey theme on the blog this month. To keep with the theme I thought I’d post some reviews of horse related books.
I have to admit that as a horse rider I usually stay well away from stories about riders as there is almost always some kind of accident where either horse or rider is hurt and it will either upset me or freak me out. I’m extremely superstitious about my riding and think that reading about someone else’s accident will somehow cause me to have one. I did however overcome my reservations to try this story by Linda Ballou and for the most part I’m really glad I did.
The story follows Gemcie, a young showjumper competing at the highest level, who is badly hurt when she falls from her horse during a competition. Forced to stop riding for a period as she works to recover, her main rival takes over her ride and moves in on her husband. Gemcie has to re assess her life, overcome her fear of falling and decide what she wants to be. To do this she sets out on a quest to find out what happened to her father who abandoned her as a baby. When she finds the trail he was last seen riding off on she decides to follow in his footsteps and takes a horse and provisions and rides into the mountains alone. As she travels she begins to understand the beauty of nature and finds a connection to her father. This gives her the focus and the motivation to reclaim what’s rightfully hers.
For the most part I enjoyed the story and towards the end I couldn’t stop reading. I love stories of recovery and overcoming obstacles against the odds. I’m a big fan of films like Rocky and Seabiscuit as it’s great to see the underdog fighting their way to the top. Gemcie is definitely an underdog in this story. She’s come from practically nothing to become one of the top showjumpers which obviously took a lot of work and she’s completely dependant on her husband and his family to ensure she stays where she is. She is one accident or slip from losing everything which needless to say is exactly what happens.
I have to admit it took me a little while to warm up to Gemcie as a character. She’s quite a young girl who is obviously a top rider and unlike a lot of competitive riders does actually treat her horse with respect rather than as a means to an end. She’s obviously worked hard to get where she is considering her background. I think what frustrated her about me at the start was her reaction to her injury and also her relationship with her husband. I can understand her frustration at being injured and limited to what you can do but I can’t understand why when you have a back injury you wouldn’t listen to the doctor. As far as her husband went I couldn’t comprehend why she’d married him at such a young age and why she was ok with him not sticking by her side when she was injured. It wasn’t exactly a shock when things started going wrong between them. I also found it difficult to understand why someone would head off on horseback into the mountains on their own for months. It seemed to me a little selfish and self indulgent to make her family and friends worry so much.
However, once she does begin her journey my opinion of her started to change. She finds some determination and some courage which you couldn’t help but admire. By the time she returned home and decided to fight for what she wanted I was definitely rooting for her all the way.
The main thing I loved about this book however were the descriptions of riding as I could imagine myself there with Gemcie as she rode around a course of jumps. My heart was thumping when she fell and soaring when they took off up the mountain at a gallop. I’m not sure how it would work if you’re not a rider, there is a lot of knowledge assumed and some of the terminology I didn’t know, but it definitely kept me gripped.
The book hints at a sequel and I have to admit I’d be interested to read it.