Today's book review features one of my all time favorites, and it's as much for the story as the illustrations, although the pictures are fabulous in and of themselves. It also deals directly with fear and just how hard it can be for a rider - or a horse - to get past a bad experience.
Afraid to Ride by C. W. Anderson
The short version: After a bad fall from a rank school horse ruins her confidence and spoils her enjoyment of riding, the human heroine of the piece is give a second chance at something she loves when she is given a nerve-shattered mare to nurse back to health. Together the pair learn to trust and enjoy flying over the fences again.C. W. Anderson was a horseman and an artist. He authored & illustrated a number of children's and young adult books, many of them about horses & riding. If you've never read any, you're missing out.
The long version: Judy Ellis is purely dreading her next ride. Assigned a camp horse spoiled by bad riding, and consigned to a overfilled, poorly supervised riding arena for her daily riding lesson, her worst fears come true when her mount bolts, crashing blindly into the arena rails and falling on top of her.
Physically mended, Judy's love of horses and riding has turned to stomach churning anxiety. She dreads the thought of actually getting back on to the point where she finds it hard to even visit the barn, but still she misses horses and riding. When a kind riding instructor invites her along to watch a show, and assures her she won't be made fun of, she can't resist.
The pair witness a thin, nervous mare roughly treated over the jumps, and abused by her owner. Remembering the mare from better days, Judy's instructor takes action. Purchasing the mare, he assigns her to Judy to care for - lots of rest, no riding, and a chance to recover her nerves will, he hopes, work wonders. Perhaps for Judy, as well.
I won't spoil the intermediary drama and the happy ending, except to say that there is one. It's a fast, heartwarming, read - at a slim 94 pages, this isn't a huge tome to be lugged about - and if you haven't run across it sometime along the way, track it down and give it a try. I'm betting you'll like it!