Tough Trails

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When Ambrose is forced to sell his horse because of an injury, he must find a new animal that can handle the rigors of the mountains while packing for his uncle's trail-riding outfit. To save an old lady's beloved companion from the meat-buyers, Ambrose buys a horse who would be better off in retirement than climbing the treacherous trails of the Rocky Mountains. The horse, Society Girl, almost dies on the trail, and Ambrose realizes she will have to go back to the meat-auction. When Ryan, a misbehaving ...

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Tough Trails

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When Ambrose is forced to sell his horse because of an injury, he must find a new animal that can handle the rigors of the mountains while packing for his uncle's trail-riding outfit. To save an old lady's beloved companion from the meat-buyers, Ambrose buys a horse who would be better off in retirement than climbing the treacherous trails of the Rocky Mountains. The horse, Society Girl, almost dies on the trail, and Ambrose realizes she will have to go back to the meat-auction. When Ryan, a misbehaving ten-year-old, takes the horse and disappears into the teeth of a dangerous mountain storm, Ambrose and Janice are forced to work together to find him. Will the young boy and the elderly horse survive a vicious hailstorm? Will Society Girl prove that she has a future? Will Ambrose be able to save the old horse from certain death?

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Editorial Reviews

Western Horseman
“This small volume, beautifully written with vivid imagery and well-developed characters and plot, explains how sometimes what might seem like a bad decision might actually be a good one.”
Canadian Book Review Annual
"Morck's experience with horses and trail-riding in the mountains is most evident...This book is aimed at an audience that is not limited to older adolescents; the gentle but engaging animal-human adventure story will also find a ready audience among middle-school students. Recommended."
NMRLS Book Review Group
“With just enough horses to appease girls, and just evough adventure to engage boys, Tough Trails delivers strong characters, adventures, and an easy to understand linear plot in just under 100 pages. Nothing in here will offend, either, making this an uncontroversial choice for classrooms. Recommended.”
Resource Links
"The action driven story will have reluctant readers galloping through this title. Sentences are short, grammar is uncomplicated, while the plot provides much material for discussion."
CM Magazine
“Provides readers with a true sense of escape and adventure. Sure to appeal to animal lovers and adventure lovers alike, it presents colourful characters and a unique plot.”
17-year-old Ambrose follows his heart and saves a horse in this lightweight feel-gooder. Ambrose has been spending this summer working for his uncle, leading tourists in the trails of Alberta's Rockies. When his beloved packhorse rips a tendon, Ambrose is sent to the horse auction to sell Blackie for dog meat. As the heartbroken teen searches for a replacement packhorse, he meets an elderly woman who is entering a retirement home and is forced to sell her own elderly horse, Society Girl. In a moment of compassion, Ambrose outbids the meat dealers for Society Girl, and finds himself returning to his uncle's ranch with a horse that is far too old to pack. On a trip into the mountains with a nature photographer and his bratty son Ryan, it becomes clear that Society Girl is too weak to be a mountain packhorse. Ambrose is horrified when he realizes that if she survives this trip, she will need to be sold for meat after all. But when a terrible hailstorm comes, Society Girl saves Ryan's life, and everything changes. Short and sweet, this is likely to please outdoorsy teens as well as the usual horse-mad girls. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Orca, 96p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Deborah Kaplan
When a young cowboy purchases a twenty-five-year-old horse that he feels sorry for instead of a young packhorse that can function in his uncle's outing business, he attempts to cover up the secret of the horse's name and age. Soon enough, Ambrose must face the consequences of his actions when he nearly kills Society Girl with a walk up a mountain. The beauty and roughness of the Canadian Rockies are contrasted with Ambrose's inner conflict to be a stoic cowboy and a compassionate man. The details of riding might have special appeal for horse lovers. Morck offers another title in the Orca Soundings series for teen reluctant readers, one that fills a gap long needed to be satisfied. Another snazzy cover photograph hooks readers, and the fine writing keeps them interested. As with other books in the series, the page length is the book's only drawback when it comes to reading for assignments. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Orca, 96p., pb. Ages 11 to 18.
—Beth Gallaway
Children's Literature
Irene Morck's short novel tells the story of 17-year-old Ambrose Metford and the aged horse, Society Girl, he purchases to be a pack horse in his uncle's trail riding company in the Canadian Rockies. As the novel opens, Ambrose must sell his favorite horse to meat buyers because of an injury the animal incurred on the trail. At the horse auction, he encounters an old lady whose circumstances force her to sell her old but healthy horse, and moved by the lady's devotion to the animal, he buys Society Girl to save her from meat buyers. Worried that his uncle will be disappointed and that his coworker, 17-year-old Janice, will make fun of his mistake, he determines to give the horse a chance, changes her name to Blaze and packs her to meet up with the tour. The horse is a quick learner and, at first, it seems that she may work out, but, as Janice and Ambrose escort a photographer and his bratty son into high mountains, it becomes clear that the horse is too old to handle climbing. During the problematic trek, Janice learns the truth but is unpredictably supportive as she develops a fondness for the gentle mare. The plot's central conflict revolves around Society Girl's fate. Young readers should appreciate Ambrose's concern for the old horse and his sympathy for the old lady's love of her animal. But the other characters are rather thin, and the action reads like episodic TV. Still, the story is moving. 2003, Orca Book Publishers, Ages 13 up.
—Scott Harris
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551432717
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Series: Orca Soundings Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Irene Morck is an accomplished author and trail-rider. Her first book with Orca, Tough Trails is based on many of her adventures riding in the Rocky Mountains. Irene lives on a farm with ten mules, one horse and her husband.

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Read an Excerpt

The horses' iron shoes scraped, metal against solid stone. Slowly they struggled upward, legs bent, lungs wheezing. Society Girl's halter rope tightened in my hand. I looked back. The old mare was really having problems.

Groaning, she put her head down and lurched over one of the big rocks, her shoes slipping.

Then, as though in slow motion, she crumpled to the ground.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2013

    Tough Trail

    This is ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER!!! You shiuld read it. The 2nd one it Blue Moon. Read it to.

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