A Horse of Her Own

A Horse of Her Own

4.9 20
by Annie Wedekind
     
 

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Jane Ryan has always dreamed of having her own horse—but so long as she gets to ride her favorite horse, Beau, at Sunny Acres farm, she's content. When summer camp begins, Jane receives heartbreaking news about Beau. She's losing him to a new owner. When her trainer asks her to help with a newcomer to the barn, Lancelot, she has no choice but to say yes.

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Overview

Jane Ryan has always dreamed of having her own horse—but so long as she gets to ride her favorite horse, Beau, at Sunny Acres farm, she's content. When summer camp begins, Jane receives heartbreaking news about Beau. She's losing him to a new owner. When her trainer asks her to help with a newcomer to the barn, Lancelot, she has no choice but to say yes. Lancelot is beautiful and talented, but he's also wild and dangerous. Jane realizes that he needs her as much as she needs him. But Jane must find faith in herself before she can have faith in Lancelot. And if she does, she just might get to compete in the end-of-summer competition—and maybe even end up with a horse of her own.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Sensitive, sophisticated and lyrically written, Wedekind's debut portrays the typical teen struggle for self-awareness in an anything-but-typical fashion. Possibly the most honest horse book since National Velvet, from an equestrian point-of-view, this offering's riding scenes combine accuracy with seat-of-the-pants excitement. A champion.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Thank goodness for Annie Wedekind. She has written an utterly charming novel that should be placed into the hands of horse-loving girls.” —Kidliterate

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This is an ideal choice for those YA readers who like a good horse story; well, a good horse and rider story. Jane is 14 years old, a fine rider, who works at the local stable, lovingly caring for Beau, the horse the owner lets her ride in classes. The plot is about one summer at horse camp. The family of a younger student purchases Beau, and Jane has to endure the loss. She also needs another horse to ride, and one available horse is a wild thing, Lancelot. Can Jane find a way to tame this horse and ride him in competitions? You betcha! It's a good story, detail by detail. Jane has a friend in Ben Reyes, the grandson of owners, who also helps out at horse camp. More than just being about a horse and a girl, this story also is about class differences, since Jane is a middle-class girl who feels poor next to the snobby rich girls from her private school and riding classes. This summer she must make a decision about what high school to go to in the fall. Horse lovers will be satisfied with the many details about care of horses, training of horses and riders, and stable management. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Jane Ryan, 14, is a capable rider whose family is not affluent enough for her to have her own horse. She rides a school horse for years, but then he is sold. Jane also tries to deal with the fact that the wealthy girls with whom she rides have never completely accepted her, except for Robin. When she gets the opportunity to ride Lancelot, a talented but difficult animal, she gains his trust and eventually wins the first Sunny Acres event. Tenacious and thoughtful, Jane is an appealing protagonist who gradually recognizes that being accepted no longer matters to her. The plot, though unremarkable, has enough twists, including a hint of romance, to sustain readers' interest. The descriptions of the challenges involved in preparing for competing are believable, although the time needed to achieve success seems a bit short. This novel merits consideration where horse stories are popular.-Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

Kirkus Reviews
Ever since her first riding lesson six years ago, 14-year-old Jane Ryan has wanted two things: acceptance from the clique of wealthy girls with whom she trains and a horse of her own, preferably Beau, the elderly school horse she understands completely. Over the course of six weeks of camp, Beau is sold out from under her, and she's given the difficult task of restoring Lancelot, a show horse belonging to one of the rich girls, to his former brilliance. Gradually Jane comes to see herself as adrift in the middle of a river of change; with grit and courage, she learns to paddle. Sensitive, sophisticated and lyrically written, Wedekind's debut portrays the typical teen struggle for self-awareness in an anything-but-typical fashion. Possibly the most honest horse book since National Velvet, from an equestrian point-of-view, this offering's riding scenes combine accuracy with seat-of-the-pants excitement. A champion. (Fiction. 10-15)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312581466
Publisher:
Square Fish
Publication date:
09/29/2009
Edition description:
STRIPPABLE
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
164,490
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Horse of Her Own, A

Chapter 1
The Beginning of Summer
There was no doubt that Alyssa Taylor was an excellent rider. Slim and poised, with a straight, relaxed back and lower legs like iron, she had a casual way of sitting on a horse like it belonged to her, as if she were favoring it with her seat and hands. This easy dominance was of a piece with the rest of her life--her tanned good looks and mature figure, her super-low-cut jeans with perfectly frayed cuffs, her expensive school, and her natural popularity.
As she watched Alyssa canter her dainty Arab mare, Ariel, over a combination jump, Jane Ryan admitted to herself that, as she'd been for so many years, she was still jealous. It was impossible not to be, she thought, unlessyou were already in Alyssa's inner circle of friends who rode at Sunny Acres farm. Jane had ridden here since she was eight, but the following six years of summer camp and Saturday lessons had not brought her any closer to the chosen group. She had always been steady Jane, willing to stay late to walk the horses and muck out the stalls, just for the chance to spend more time at the stable, and, of course, to ride the school horses since she didn't board or lease a horse of her own.
Luckily, one of these school horses was Beau (pronounced "boo"), and Jane thought he was the best horse in the world. She often allowed herself to pretend that he really was her own--a fantasy all too easily burst when Beau was given over to another girl to ride. But now, as she watched Alyssa and Ariel sail over the last jump, Jane patted Beau's strong brown neck and whispered to him, "As long as we're together, I'm happy as a clam, I promise." Beau flickered his ears, listening, and stamped his hoof, as if he agreed with her.
It had been a fine lesson. Jane had worried that Beau would tire early in the humid late-May heat, but he was in a particularly good mood this morning, lengthening his fluid strides as she asked him to stretch out his trot, and arching his neck rather grandly as he went on the bit without a fuss. Some days he simply pretended not to understand what she meant when she gathered the reins and gently urged him to lower his head. Though his nature was gentle, his spirit was independent, and he was certainly no "push button," as the horses who would do anything theirriders asked were called. Jane liked the challenge and liked that Beau kept her on her toes. Still, she'd ridden him for so many years that she knew his repertoire of moods and could respond accordingly.
Today, their trainer, Susan McCormick, had noticed this. "Jane," she'd called out from the center of the ring, "we're going to have to find you a new horse to ride--you and Beau are starting to look like a centaur. You know each other so well, it's hard to tell you apart." It was a typical Susan compliment--accurate, nice to hear, but with a warning attached to it. Her trainer had no qualms about separating a rider from her favorite horse if she felt they were no longer learning from each other.
Susan was one of the best hunter-jumper trainers in Kentucky, and Jane felt very lucky to work with her. She reminded herself of this as she watched Alyssa finish the course flawlessly and knew she had a tough act to follow. Ariel, a glossy light chestnut with a beautiful dished face and a high-sailing, cream-colored tail, had a delicacy and quick action that looked glorious in the ring, and Alyssa pushed her hard, willing her through a perfect course.
"Jane, take Beau next, please," Susan said, and her face was stern as it always was when she watched her riders. Jane brought Beau to a canter and looked toward the first jump, a simple cross-rail. She counted strides under her breath, and Beau took the jump neatly. "Good release!" Susan shouted. "Now look ahead to the next one." Jane guided Beau around the turn, deepening her seat as he had to shorten his stride, and he glided over the high oxerwith no difficulty. Beau was interested now, and he swished his tail and pricked his ears in anticipation of the combination. "Slow him down a little, keep him steady," Susan called, and Jane tightened her reins and talked soft nonsense to her horse. He flickered his ears back to her and settled into his stride, cruising over the two jumps with the cocky ease that Jane loved in him.
As soon as he landed, Jane looked over her left shoulder to the last jump, which, at a little more than three feet, was also the highest--the coop. It was only her second time jumping it, and its triangular bulk, wide at the base, narrow at the top, loomed ominously at the end of the ring. She eased her reins and let Beau gather speed, trying not to convey any hesitation through her seat and hands. Beau swayed a little out of his line as he neared the jump, and Susan shouted something that Jane couldn't hear. Her heart raced and her breath came quickly as they took the last three strides. She felt Beau gathering himself underneath her, and she rose in her stirrups, staring straight between his ears, looking anywhere but at the weather-beaten green hulk that they were now sailing over. Beau landed, snorted, shook his head, and Jane laughed with relief, patting his neck and praising him as he spun out his canter and returned to a trot. "Good boy!" she said. "What a good boy!"
"Nicely done," was all Susan said when she and Beau rejoined the other riders in the center of the ring. It was all that Jane needed to hear.
There were seven other girls in the Advanced groupwith whom Jane had ridden for years--they'd all been promoted from Intermediate the previous summer. But last Saturday, she'd overheard Susan say that the group had gotten too large. For camp, which started in two weeks, she'd divide them into Advanced I and Advanced II. The stronger riders would be in Advanced I, and Jane looked at the girls around her, wondering who would make the cut. Alyssa, certainly. Then there was Jennifer, a petite brunette who was Alyssa's best friend. Her parents had bought her big gray gelding, Thunder, last summer, and he'd already placed well in several autumn shows.
Jane wasn't as worried about Liz and Shannon--she'd been surprised when Liz had been promoted to Advanced in the first place, and suspected that it had more to do with her horse than with her riding skill. Lady Blue was a perfect example of a push button--her training masked Liz's laziness; she could go on autopilot with little input from her rider. She had a sweet temperament as well, and Jane worried that eventually she would coarsen under the indifferent hands of her owner, especially since Liz had missed several weeks of lessons over the winter and early spring, forgoing the chilly farm for a series of unspecified "school projects." Shannon, on the other hand, had been a strong rider until the past March, when she'd had a nasty fall off her skittish bay, Bebop. He'd shied before a jump, and Shannon was thrown into the rails, spraining her wrist. It wasn't a serious injury, but Shannon seemed to lose her nerve. She refused to get back on Bebop, and when she finally did, three weeks later, she was tentative and easilyspooked by his slightest hesitation. It did not bode well for her chances of getting into Advanced I.
There were two girls who Jane wished she would be able to ride with this summer--Robin and Jessica. Robin was her best friend, a quiet girl with large hazel eyes and long, light brown hair who didn't seem to realize how pretty she was. Because she was lovely, and her family was wealthy, Robin was automatically invited to all of the popular girls' activities, from after-lesson swimming parties at Jennifer's house to movies, shopping expeditions, and Friday night private-school mixers that Jane heard about on Saturdays. But Robin rarely went--her parents were strict but, more than that, she seemed to prefer the company of horses and books, just like Jane. So "the clique," as Jane and Robin called them, had pretty much decided she was hopeless, and Robin didn't care one bit. Jane never told her that she couldn't understand why Robin wouldn't want to be a part of this bright, shining group with their late parties and their wild older brothers who took them out in the new cars they got for their sixteenth birthdays. Some of them even had boyfriends, though they were all only thirteen or fourteen. Jane was embarrassed to tell Robin how much she wanted to be a part of what Robin could be, if only she chose.
Jessica was another story. She was a funny, frank girl who went to the same school as Alyssa, Jennifer, and Robin and happily accepted her natural place with the clique. But although the other girls treated Jane with indifference or condescension, Jessica was, remarkably, often nice toher. She seemed to like Jane, and she was brave enough to show it when the mood struck her. They were not close, but Jane could count on Jessica to be friendly and even to sometimes include her in the gossip sessions after the lessons. She wasn't particularly loyal, but she didn't pretend that Jane didn't exist, or comment on the fact that Jane went to a backwater all-girls Catholic school, or that her family lived in a ramshackle house in the middle of downtown Louisville, far from the plush suburban villages nearly all the others called home.
"Time to go in," Susan said, and the riders turned their horses toward the barns. Jane stroked Beau's mane and dropped her feet from her stirrups, letting him walk with a long, relaxed rein back to the stables.
"Nice course," said a voice on her left. "For a school horse."
Jane looked up to meet the eyes of the girl she feared would be her biggest competition for a slot in Advanced I--Emily Longstreet. A stocky, athletic girl with an oddly ill-matched, narrow face, she was an aggressive rider and vocal about her own abilities. This would be her second summer at the farm--her family had moved to Kentucky from Atlanta--and she was a dogged fourth wheel to Alyssa, Jennifer, and Jessica. Jane hadn't liked her since camp last year. Besides her frequent complaints about how much cooler and more interesting Atlanta was (which, Jane noticed, Alyssa and company tired of as well) and her short temper toward both her horse, Georgia Belle, and her friends, if she felt left out or slighted, Emily also seemedto believe that being nasty to Jane was part and parcel of keeping her place in the clique.
"Hey, that rhymes, Emily," Jane said shakily. "I didn't know you were a poet."
Jessica, pulling her horse, Quixotic, next to theirs, laughed. "I can think of a better subject for you, Em: 'Oh, Matt, my heart goes splat. When I think of you, I turn to goo.'"
Jane flushed, smiling as Emily scowled, though she had no idea who they were talking about. But Emily was noticeably boy-crazy.
"That's completely retarded," she said coldly.
Jessica threw Emily a look of innocent surprise. "Hmmm. I don't think poets say retarded. You might need to work on the vocab." She turned Quixotic back toward Alyssa and Jennifer, and the triumvirate started talking about their plans for that evening, leaving Jane and Emily in an uncomfortable silence. Jane broke it by nudging Beau into a trot, pulling away from Georgia Belle.
She stopped him in the shade of the barn and dismounted, pretending to be absorbed in pulling up the stirrups, undoing his girth, and taking off the saddle and pad--she didn't want the others thinking that she cared about their plans or about what Emily had said. But she did care, almost desperately, she thought now, both about having a horse of her own and being a part of a group. "I'm so tired of being different," she whispered to Beau as she pulled off his bridle and he began rubbing his headvigorously on her arm. She turned, offering him her back, and he almost knocked her over with the force of his happy nuzzles. The other girls rarely let their horses do this--"Ugh," Liz would shout at Lady Blue, "you're making me filthy!"--but Jane loved Beau and would do anything for him, including getting a shirt full of horsehair and sweat and slobber. Riding, she often thought, was not for those afraid of a little dirt.
After walking Beau until he was cool, Jane turned him out in the big pasture behind the barn and watched as he trotted toward a group of horses swishing flies under a copse of trees by the pond. The hazy, rich green of the grass and the heavy branches of the oaks curving down over the gently sloping pasture were Jane's ideal of beauty. She'd found a painting by Thomas Hart Benton in one of her mother's art books and thought that he must have been painting Kentucky. When she'd told her art teacher how much she liked his work, the teacher laughed, calling her "old-fashioned."
Maybe that's what's the matter with me, she thought, folding her arms over the white fence rail. Maybe I was meant to be living in the turn of the century or during the Depression or World War II. When horses were a part of everyday life, either riding them or watching their races. Man O'War, War Admiral ... they were heroes, and they had Kentucky blood running through their veins. She shivered happily, picturing herself as a groom, or even a jockey, in what seemed like such an uncomplicated time. And if I'd been a boy, I wouldn't have to worry about being popular.And I could wear one of those gray felt hats. Jane tried to picture Alyssa or Emily feeling this way and laughed out loud--at herself, at how crazy they'd think she was if she ever actually said these things.
"Did Beau just tell you a good joke?" Robin had walked up and joined her at the fence.
"No," Jane said, "I was trying to picture Emily in a fedora and trench coat, like in Casablanca."
"Okay, I'm not even going to ask." Robin chuckled. "I don't think I want to know the train of thought that got you there."
"So only one more Saturday lesson before camp ... ." Jane said, knowing Robin would understand her meaning.
"And only one more chance to be judged for which group we'll be put in," Robin finished. They'd discussed this endlessly on the phone all week, creating different scenarios and unlikely lucky breaks. If Emily fell ... if Jennifer suddenly lost all interest in horses ...
"I know who it's going to be," Robin said firmly. "Alyssa, Jennifer, Jessica, and you. You're the best riders, and that's all there is to it."
"But what about Emily? And you? You're a great rider." Jane looked at her friend with concern. All of their previous conversations had ended by deciding that, somehow, both she and Robin would be in the top group.
"You know I get scared on the big jumps, and Advanced I is going to be really tough. I think I'd rather be in Advanced II." Robin spoke with such certainty that Jane couldn't believe her ears.
"But don't you want to be chosen for Advanced I anymore?" she asked.
"Not if it means not having a good time. I've been thinking about it a lot this week, and all I really want this summer is to hang out with you, and to ride Bess and hopefully keep getting better with her. And I don't think I will if I'm always worried about what Susan's going to make us do next."
"Wow" was all Jane could think of to say. She couldn't imagine not wanting to be promoted to the top group, no matter how scary or tough the lessons were going to become. Despite her solitariness and her reluctant awareness that she wasn't quite like the other girls, a desire to win was hardwired into her. She didn't talk about her ambition except jokingly, with Robin, or sometimes with her sister, Lily, but it burned in her like a deep, sure flame. She wanted to be the best.
"Well," she finally said, "then we'll both have to be happy in Advanced II, because Emily is going to make it, not me. I'm the only one who doesn't have my own horse, and it wouldn't be fair for Susan to always let me ride Beau. They're going to need him for other lessons. You heard Susan today--she practically said that she didn't think I should ride him all the time. She's probably preparing me for this summer, when I'll have to ride whoever's free. And I can't exactly picture Brownie or Fleur making it over triple combinations and water obstacles."
Robin couldn't help laughing at the picture of two of the oldest, most sedate school horses trying to keep upwith the likes of Ariel and Thunder. "Well, at least we'd get to ride together, but I'm still betting that Susan puts you in the top group," she said loyally.
"Nope," Jane said, affecting a breezy tone, "it's me and Brownie and you and Bess in the minor leagues. Beau's not my horse, and I have to stop pretending that he is."
She smiled bravely at her friend, but she hated saying the awful truth out loud.
A HORSE OF HER OWN. Copyright © 2008 by Annie Wedekind. All rights reserved.

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Meet the Author

Annie Wedekind grew up riding horses in Louisville, Kentucky. Since then, she's been in the saddle in every place she's lived, from Rhode Island to New Orleans, South Africa to New York. A Horse of Her Own was her first novel and was praised by Kirkus as "possibly the most honest horse book since National Velvet . . . A champion." She is also the author of The Breyer Horse Collection books, including Wild Blue, Little Prince, Samirah's Ride, and Mercury's Flight. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

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A Horse of Her Own 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Horse of Her Own by Anne Wedkind is a realistic story that takes place at Sunny Acres farm in Kentucky. Jane Ryan has always wanted a horse of her own and at Sunny Acres farm she rides her favorite horse Beau. Then one day she hears the news that she is going to be taking off Beau because the horse has been bought by a beginner. She hears that there is a new horse at the barn named Lancelot that they are going to put her on. He is a wild horse but has potential to be the best and she may finally have a horse of her own. Readers will find that this is a very interesting book that keeps you guessing. This is a great book for anyone especially people who like horses.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS IS THE BEST BOOK IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD BETTER THAN HARRY POTTER
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All I'm saying is it's one of the BEST books I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hav the paper back copy and i read it so many times the back cover fell off!! I really like it. A calm read.
j-e-s-s-i-e More than 1 year ago
All I can say is.......AMAZING! <3 :^)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. You guys who loves horses should read it yourselves. I shared it with all my friends, i highly recommend it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is honestly in my top 3 all time fave books. I read it about once a month since I was in 7th grade and I'm in 9th now. It never gets old :) Even though it's below my reading level now it is truley an amazing tale of the unexpected :)
Silverstream101 More than 1 year ago
When I first read it I was thinking Thats kind of like my life. The populer gruop and your true friends and your loyal horse. I love riding and my favrite horse in A Horse of her own ic Lancelot pushy, stubbern but always is faithful to Jane no matter what.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book totally touches the heart of horse and animal lovers. It teaches people to let go and to lean to try new things alobg with some drama and exciting moments! I SUGGEST!
KateSilver More than 1 year ago
I found this book and it's very exciting, but not original. I've seen many other books exactly the same. However, this book does take those books to a new level. You can't help but fall in love with the exciting words and new twists that make this book a fantastic read. It's definitely a book to read, but not that interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Asspades is my horses show name he is amazing i love him and there is nothing i would not do for him this book reminds me of him the book is heart touchinng it will make u feel all warm and fuzzy inside but thare is also a lesson to be told in the book like do not let mean girls make u feel bad and be yourself u may think that what i am saying is stupid but i know what i am talking about i have been bullyd my whole life i used to let it bother me but even if it hurt i had to let is get by me and make it stop people are going to say do and think the way thay want to but that dose not mean that they are right unforchonitlty there are mean people in this world but that dose not mean that you should become one and if u read this book u will know why u are a amazing persone and dnot let anyone tell u any diffrently and the only people that need to know that ia u your family and your friendes and than that is all that matters it may sound esay but belife me it is not it is not easy for anyone but u just have to try and than u will be fine and that is what counts and i promise you willl lovthis book jusg give it a try and that will make me happy if someone is bulkying u or someone else donot be bystanders tell an adult or a teaxher anitd it will stop someone will put an end to it donobe a bully and do not watch other people get bulkyd that may nit be a part ithe book of the book i guss you will just have ti read it and find out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definetly the best book i own! Jane is so fun and Robin is really nice. I think all riders can relate to Beau as the solid, wonderful schoolhorse and the ending is perfect. I highly recommend this book to any and all horse lovers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should i get the sample
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, but the drama of the rich stable girls are a bit unrealistic. I thinl this is a great reading book for young equestrians that can't comprehend to the more complicated horse novels. Otherwise, FANTASTIC! five stars!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She is strong fun and has a strong love for horses
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I graze on the juicy green grass and the tasty clover. It is a picture postcard perfect day. My horse friends (neigh-bors) and i take in the beauty. I stomp at a fly and flick my tail. My ears prick up at the sound of a young colt's whinny. I leave the clover patch i was grazing on to canter around. My tail flies out in the wind as my chestnut coat gleams in the sun. I kick out my heels and rear up excitedly. Im a little tired after my run so i lay down in the warm sun and enjoy my day.
horsegeek More than 1 year ago
A re-read!! I read it again... and again! I read a lot, and it may be my #1 choice. The language and charactars are very strong. I LOVE THIS BOOK!
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