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Catch Rider

Catch Rider

4.6 5
by Jennifer H. Lyne

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Tough-as-nails fourteen-year-old Sid may not have expensive boots like the privileged teen riders in Virginia, but she knows her way around horses. Working with her Uncle Wayne since childhood, she’s learned to evaluate horses, break and train them, care for them . . . and ride like a professional. Amid turmoil at home, she dreams of becoming a catch rider—


Tough-as-nails fourteen-year-old Sid may not have expensive boots like the privileged teen riders in Virginia, but she knows her way around horses. Working with her Uncle Wayne since childhood, she’s learned to evaluate horses, break and train them, care for them . . . and ride like a professional. Amid turmoil at home, she dreams of becoming a catch rider—a show rider who can ride anything with hooves. In this salty, suspenseful teen novel, an unexpected opportunity to ride a top-notch horse in an equitation show takes the small-town girl all the way to Madison Square Garden.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Everything comes together here—setting, dialogue, horse details and, most impressively, voice—so that the near–fairy-tale ending works; like the rest of the book, it feels absolutely true. A standout."
Kirkus, starred review

"Girls and horses never go out of style. . . . Lyne fills her story with details about various breeds, horsemanship, and horse-riding competition, immersing readers into this very specialized world. The setting of a small town that is hard to escape rings just as true."
Booklist Online

"For many girls, it isn't truly summer without a great horse bookJennifer H. Lyne's Catch Rider fits that bill."

"[A] riveting story."
—Common Sense Media, (4 stars)

"I'm no horse expert, but this tale sure feels and smells like the real deal. It was a real page turner for me. Perhaps you know a book where there is resolution to the story but you are so into the characters that you are not ready to say goodbye. . . I'm sure hoping to see another book out of this debut author."
Richie Partington

VOYA - Jane Murphy
Fourteen-year-old Sidney Criser lives in a Virginia mill town called Covington with a grief-stricken mother and abusive potential stepfather. Her uncle, Wayne, battles alcoholism and yet keeps the light alive for Sid as he nurtures her talent as a "catch rider" and lover of horses. He mentors her and brings her along to work in the stables of a wealthy horse farm at Oak Hill. The spoiled daughter of that family becomes her nemesis, riding petulantly with an air of superiority and disdain for the likes of Sidney. Sid's talent is appreciated and recognized by the trainers and even the family's matriarch, and she is given the opportunity to compete with a magnificent horse until her rival steals him away. She qualifies on the merit of her equestrian skills for the National competition in New York City. Her mother narrowly escapes a lifetime of sorrow with her abusive partner and reclaims her role as Sid's mother when she realizes her daughter has also been abused by this man. Sidney must constantly adapt to changes as any catch rider does, finally winning with the help of two different horses, the second of which is a legacy of Sidney's own father. Lyne, a Virginian equestrian herself, tells this story with compelling details of the equestrian world. The author is adept at showing, rather than telling, thus painting an accurate picture of this microcosm of life. The riding arena becomes a metaphor for life's challenges and obstacles, and readers cheer Sidney on at every turn and every jump. This book is a great choice for middle and high school collections in schools and public libraries. Reviewer: Jane Murphy
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Sidney (Sid), almost fifteen, is hardly your typical book heroine. She skips school, cusses like a sailor, rarely cruises the malls, does not participate in social media and drives, when she has to, without a learner’s permit. Okay, so she is a little rough around the edges. Sid has a tough life. Her father died and her mom, Mel, has a new live-in, bad tempered boyfriend, a real scumbag who is abusive to Sid’s mom and starting to beat up on Sid. She tells readers: “[my father] always said to open my heart and treat people with love when things were bad. But I couldn’t. I wondered how open my father’s heart would be if he were here and saw what I saw.” But Sid has a salvation: horses. Sid has been around horses all her life and has learned a lot while hanging around her Uncle Wayne, the best horseman she knows. Sid’s an expert at caring for horses, in recognizing quality, and in healing, training, and even pulling teeth and can ride anything. In fact, her goal is to be a catch rider—someone who can ride any horse, any time, under any conditions. As Uncle Wayne says, “Then you gotta get on anything, on any horse, and you gotta make it work.” When he gets her a part time job at Oak Hill, a stable for show horses and competitive show riding, she is exposed to a new world of wealth, privilege, famous trainers, pedigreed and expensive mounts, high falutin’ mean girls and maybe, just maybe, one of the nicest boys she has ever met. All the events culminate in the USEF national finals in New York City—a dream come true? Lyne has written a compelling page-turner. She has certainly done her homework on the world of horses and produced a novel that young adult readers will want to read in one sitting. Reviewer: Judy Crowder; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Living in small-town Virginia, 14-year-old Sid feels trapped. Between avoiding her unemployed mother's increasingly abusive new boyfriend and constant reminders that most townspeople end up working in the paper mill, Sid's only escape is taking care of and riding horses. To earn money, she agrees to work at an upscale show barn with her Uncle Wayne. While there, she has the opportunity to participate in an equitation show. The plot never drags but, with the exception of Sid and her uncle, the characters are one-dimensional. Sid is likable and her language is authentic, if a bit rough around the edges. Readers will root for her. She faces many difficulties, including a deceased father, the abusive man, insufficient money, mean girls, and horse injuries, but she overcomes them with little effort. The one situation she fixes on her own is to get rid of her mother's boyfriend, pulling a gun on him instead of getting authorities to intervene. While this is ultimately a feel-good book, it is an additional purchase.—Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Powerful writing propels a well-plotted horse story in Lyne's impressive debut. Sidney Criser might still be 14, but that doesn't stop her from driving the junk car her uncle gave her an hour over mountains to clean stalls at a rich woman's barn. Sid grew up tough, and she can ride anything, but times are desperate: Since her father's death, her mother has taken up with a no-good abuser who threatens to move them to California. Her mother's lost her job, and her mother's brother, her uncle Wayne, who's long been Sidney's mainstay, is just about to drink himself to death. Nothing's easy in their hardscrabble mill town. The other half of Virginia, where pedigreed horses sleep in "nest[s] of pine shavings," has the horses Sidney longs for, but she's cleareyed enough to see that rich people have problems, too, just like her classmates destined to work in the mill. "I know that sounds mean and angry, but I'm not either one. We have a life to live that could stop any minute, and I guess I can't believe this is how some people want to spend it. It makes me sad as hell." Everything comes together here--setting, dialogue, horse details and, most impressively, voice--so that the near–fairy-tale ending works; like the rest of the book, it feels absolutely true. A standout. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jennifer Lyne was raised in Virginia, where she spent a lot of time around horses and eventually managed a small barn. She worked as a location scout for 14 feature films and with her husband wrote and produced two independent features. She lives in New York City.

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Catch Rider 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the story was fantastic. I got it as a gift and I figured it was going to be the typical horse girl drama filled story, but I discovered that I was wrong. It has a great plot, and it proves that you don't need thousands of dollars and connections to make it big, you only need dedication and a hard work. I loved this book, and I would recommend it for anyone who is into horses
kitty36LD More than 1 year ago
Written about jumping horses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love reading books about horses. Catch rider was beautifully written not only with heart but with an urgency to follow sidney's story. An entertaining book that i read in two nights. I did not want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a 1 year old who rides horses everyday, I found this story very realistic and good. I would suggest it to everyone!