The Outside of a Horse

The Outside of a Horse

4.7 20
by Ginny Rorby

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Hannah Gale starts volunteering at a horse stable because she needs a place to escape. Her father has returned from the Iraq war as an amputee with posttraumatic stress disorder, and his nightmares rock the household. At the stable, Hannah comes to love Jack, Super Dee, and Indy; helps bring a rescued mare back from the brink; and witnesses the birth of the filly


Hannah Gale starts volunteering at a horse stable because she needs a place to escape. Her father has returned from the Iraq war as an amputee with posttraumatic stress disorder, and his nightmares rock the household. At the stable, Hannah comes to love Jack, Super Dee, and Indy; helps bring a rescued mare back from the brink; and witnesses the birth of the filly who steals her heart. Hannah learns more than she ever imagined about horse training, abuse, and rescues, as well as her own capacity for hope. Physical therapy with horses could be the answer to her father's prayers, if only she can get him to try.

Editorial Reviews

A good entry point for reluctant readers moving on from Stine's own oeuvre.
Children's Literature - Patrice Russo Belotte
At thirteen, Hannah Gale has been through more emotional grief than any human could survive. Hannah's fascination and love of horses has helped her cope with her mother's death from cancer at a young age and her father's deployment to Iraq through the National Guard. In her father's absence, Hannah supports her stepmother through pregnancy and the delivery of Hannah's little brother, Jeffy. In an effort to contribute to the family expenses, Hannah gets a "job" at a horse farm not far from her home. While her payment comes in the form of riding lessons, Hannah's contribution is more to her own emotional welfare than the family's. Rorby paints a painful picture of a strong-willed teenager in Hannah and urges the reader to comprehend the bonds of love that can be built between humans and horses. When her father returns from Iraq, suffering physically and mentally, Hannah's world is torn apart, again. Her stepmother leaves and Hannah is forced into the role of the parent, caring for her father as he falls into an alcoholic depression. It is her relationship with the horses and their owners that keep her from drowning in an overwhelming sea of emotional chaos. Hannah finds connections in the equestrian world that allow her to imagine how her own life could be if her father would only commit to recovery. Reviewer: Patrice Russo Belotte
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Hannah, 13, has always loved watching horse races on television with her father, but when she begins to help out at a local riding stable, she discovers how much more she enjoys working with real animals, especially those who have suffered abuse. She particularly loves a filly named Rega, the offspring of a Premarin mare (a pregnant horse from which urine is collected to make pharmaceuticals). When her dad returns from Iraq as an amputee suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Hannah's work at the stable not only helps her cope with the problems at home, but also leads her to equine-assisted psychotherapy and riding therapy for her troubled father. Things improve, but Hannah will need all her strength to make a difficult decision when Rega suffers a terrible injury. Like Rorby's Hurt Go Happy (Tor, 2006), this book is laden with so many issues—the problems of returning vets, various and horrifying types of abuse of horses, humane Parelli horse training methods—that they nearly overwhelm the story, and the horse/human amputee metaphor becomes heavy-handed. However, this novel really shines in showing how horses can help troubled humans heal their physical and emotional wounds. There's plenty of fodder here for spirited book discussions.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Sentimentality battles cruelty in this overdrawn middle-grade novel. Twelve-year-old Hannah begins work at a nearby stable as a way to connect with her father in Iraq; when he comes home missing a leg and emotionally shattered, parallels between him and rescued horses begin. Hannah's father suffers flashbacks, drinks too much and patrols the house with his assault rifle. Her stepmother moves out, leaving Hannah alone with him. Instead of ensuring Hannah's safety, the adults at the barn suggest equine therapy. Rorby loads her narrative with graphic descriptions of every possible kind of equine abuse and suffering, without any leavening-even the foal Hannah loves is attacked by dogs. None of the characters come alive (the women at the stable are interchangeable) and many of the details ring false. Would Hannah really not have been told for three months that her father had been injured, for instance? The foals of mares farmed for estrogen, animal hoarders, Barbaro, horses stabbed in Mexican slaughterhouses-it's all here. Manipulative and overwrought-the last book to give to a horse-mad 13-year-old girl. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.62(h) x 1.17(d)
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Ginny Rorby was born in Washington, D.C., but spent her first twenty years in Winter Park, Florida. She now lives close to nature, on the northern coast of California, supporting the appetites of five cats (the fourth and fifth appropriately named Spare Cat and Extra Cat), three birds, and a snake named Rosie. Because she does some wildlife rehabilitation, she frequently has an assortment of critters staying with her (past residents have included a bat, a hummingbird, a raven, a turkey, and numerous baby birds).

She writes by hand under a plum tree on a deck overlooking a creek, facing a redwood forest (with at least one cat in her lap). She had been working as a flight attendant for fifteen years when wrote an editorial about an abandoned dog and sent it to a local newspaper. An editor at the newspaper encouraged her to continue writing. Ginny has since received her MFA in creative writing. She was still flying when she wrote Dolphin Sky, so most of it was written while she was standing up in the lower galley of a DC-10 airplane.

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The Outside of a Horse 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of my favorite books! I reccomend this to anyone who loves horses!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book in the whole entire world. If you luv horses with all your heart this is the book for you.
MD11 More than 1 year ago
This book blew me away! I loved the way the author tied together war horses and relationships. This book was a tear jerker. If you love horses I highly recommend this book. It is a beautiful book about a girls father who comes home from war and her finding out what he went through, through his nightmares. And how horses heal them both.I read this book in two days and would read it again in a heartbeat! A MUST READ FOR HORSE LOVERS!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Besrt book i ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the absolute best horse book ever!!! I recommend it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ShihTzuLady More than 1 year ago
I am listening to this book on my Audible account, but I need to say something about this book. It's told from the prespective of a 13 year old girl who has to deal with her father's return from the war. This is one of the most emotionally powerful books I have read in awhile. This is not a happy book, at least not as far as I have gotten in it, but the author is amazing and she does a wonderful job connecting the reader to her characters. My heart breaks for Hannah and her father at every turn. I hope this author has author books out! I'll be looking of rhtem!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Ive had it for close to a year and read it atleast 4 times! Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book it is the best book am i have read it about 4 times and i just got it
Horseluver2480 More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this book!!! I could read it over and over again. If you love horses you've searched the right book. Ginny writes so visual it is AMAZING!!! You will fall in love with it like I did. Best book EVER!!! Buy it NOWWWWWWWW :)
flyingolive More than 1 year ago
this book is amazing! this was the first ever Ginny Rorby book i ever read and i instantly fell in love with her writing. i could read this book thousands and thousnds of time and never get tired of it. it is a heart felt and very realistic and visual novel... if you love horses, adventure, and if you have ever loved something or someone so much that you didn't think you could ever let go of them, than this is the perfect book for you. ~love always~
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Outside of a Horse examines a girl's relationship with her father, both while he is serving in Iraq and after he comes home, wounded and mentally damaged. Left behind with her stepmother and baby brother, she finds solace working at a local stable, learning to earn the trust of horses rescued from abuse, and watching the birth of one very special filly. When her dad returns, damaged, lost, and angry Hannah has only the horses to turn to for help. Give me a book about a horse crazy girl any day! I loved the strength, work ethic, and morals Hannah learns from the women she meets and the way they take her under their wing. However, the soap box the author gets on about the horse industry, racing and meat packing plants especially was a real turn off. It felt like she was intent on pushing her agenda and the story suffered for it. She got back on track with the rehab Hannah's dad goes through and that part felt very authentic and touching. I listened to The Outside of a Horse on audio, narrated by Emily Bauer. She has an amazingly convincing, little-girl voice. The transitions to adults are not as convincing, but given that the story is told in Hannah's voice that seems realistic.
ItsTheBookworm More than 1 year ago
The Outside of a Horse is the best animal connected book. It's real. It's happy & sad. And it's addicting. Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever. I've read it like a million times. It should get a award.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book i almost started crying
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KelleeM More than 1 year ago
Ginny Rorby writes books about animal-human relationships and the healing power of these animals. This is animal fiction that falls into a completely different realm than others. She breathlessly intertwines human problems with animals. Her previous book, Hurt Go Happy, dealt with Joey, a deaf young girl, her mother's inability to deal with her disability, and how Sukari, a young chimpanzee, helps Joey and her mother accept their life. Her newest book,The Outside of a Horse, deals with Hannah. Hannah Gale feels so alone. Her mother passed away from cancer a few years ago, her father is fighting in Iraq, her stepmother doesn't really connect with her, and her brother, Jeffy, is just too young to be there for her. The only comfort to Hannah is when her school bus drives by the stables and she gets to see the horses. It is through these horses that Hannah finds comfort during this difficult time in her life that just keeps getting worse and worse. It is through Ginny Rorby's believable characters and realistic situations that the reader feels so connected to the animals and humans of her novels. Both The Outside of a Horse and Hurt Go Happy deal with not only a human issue, but an animal issue as well. The Outside of a Horse shows the reader the truth behind horse racing. What makes Rorby's books different, though, is that she teaches about an animal issue, but does not preach. She lets you take in the truth and decide for yourself if it is an injustice or not.