The Georges and the Jewels (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch Series #1)

The Georges and the Jewels (Horses of Oak Valley Ranch Series #1)

by Jane Smiley


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375862281
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/14/2010
Series: Horses of Oak Valley Ranch Series , #1
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 374,428
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jane Smiley is the acclaimed author of many books for adults, including Private Life, Horse Heaven, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Thousand Acres. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. 

Jane Smiley lives in Northern California, where she rides horses every chance she gets. Her second novel for young readers, A Good Horse, also features Abby Lovitt and her family's ranch.


Northern California

Date of Birth:

September 26, 1949

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A. in English, Vassar College, 1971; M.A., Iowa University, 1975; M.F.A, 1976; Ph.D., 1978

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sometimes when you fall off your horse, you just don't want to get right back on. Let's say he started bucking and you did all the things you knew to do, like pull his head up from between his knees and make him go forward, then use a pulley rein on the left to stop him. Most horses would settle at that point and come down to a walk. Then you could turn him again and trot off—it's always harder for the horse to buck at the trot than at the lope. But if, right when you let up on the reins, your horse put his head between his knees again and took off bucking, kicking higher and higher until he finally dropped you and went tearing off to the other end of the ring, well, you might lie there, as I did, with the wind knocked out of you and think about how nice it would be not to get back on, because that horse is just dedicated to bucking you off.

So I did lie there, looking up at the branches of the oak tree that grew beside the ring, and I did wait for Daddy to come trotting over with that horse by the bridle, and I did stare up at both their faces, the face of that horse flicking his ears back and forth and snorting a little bit, and the face of my father, red-cheeked and blue-eyed, and I did listen to him say, "Abby? You okay, honey? Sure you are. I saw you bounce! Get up, now."

I sighed.

"How am I going to tell those folks who are looking to buy these horses that a little girl can ride them, if you don't get up and ride them?"

I sat up. I said, "I don't know, Daddy." My elbow hurt, but not too badly. Otherwise I was okay.

"Well, then."

I stood up, and he brushed off the back of my jeans. Then he tossed me on the horse again.

Some horses buck you off. Some horses spook you off—they see something scary and drop a shoulder and spin and run away. Some horses stop all of a sudden, and there you are, head over heels and sitting on the ground. I had a horse rear so high once that I just slid down over her tail and landed in the grass easy as you please, watching her run back to the barn. I started riding when I was three. I started training horses for my dad when I was eight. I wasn't the only one—my brother, Danny, was thirteen at the time, and he did most of the riding (Kid's Horse for Sale), but I'm the only one now.

Which is not to say that there aren't good horses and fun horses. I ride plenty of those, too. But they don't last, because Daddy turns those over fast. I had one a year ago, a sweet bay mare. We got her because her owner had died and Daddy picked her up for a song from the bank. I rode her every day, and she never put a foot wrong. Her lope was as easy as flying. One of the days she was with us, I had a twenty-four-hour virus, so when I went out to ride, I tacked her up and took her down to the crick at the bottom of the pasture, out of sight of the house.

I knew Daddy had to go into town and would be gone for the afternoon, so when I got down there, I just took off the saddle and hung it over a tree limb, and the bridle, too, and I lay down in the grass and fell asleep. I knew she would graze, and she did for a while, I suppose. But when I woke up (and feeling much better, thank you), there she was, curled up next to me like a dog, kind of pressed against me but sweet and large and soft. I lay there feeling how warm she was and smelling her fragrance, and I thought, I never heard of this before. I don't know why she did that, but now when Daddy tells me that horses only know two things, the carrot and the stick, and not to fill my head with silly ideas about them, I just remember that mare (she had a star shaped like a triangle and a little snip down by her left nostril). We sold her for a nice piece of change within a month, and I wish I knew where she was.

But Daddy names all the mares Jewel and all the geldings George, and I can hardly remember which was which after a while.

The particular George who bucked me off had a hard mouth. I did the best I could with him for another twenty minutes, but Daddy said that probably he was going to have to get on him himself, which meant that we weren't going to turn this one over fast, because a little girl couldn't ride him yet. Which meant that Daddy was in bad mood for the rest of the day.

We took the George back up to the barn, and while Daddy threw out the hay, I brushed the George off. He didn't mind, but he didn't love it like some of them do. Then I picked out his feet and took him out and put him into one of the big corrals. We didn't keep horses in stalls unless we had to, because Daddy said that they did better outside anyway, and if you kept them in stalls, well, then, you spent your life cleaning stalls rather than riding. Was that what I wanted?

I always said, "No, Daddy," and he ruffled my hair.

In the winter, though, it bothered me to think of them huddled out in the rain, their tails into the wind and their heads down. Of course that was what horses were meant to do, and ours had heavy coats, but I would lie awake when it rained in the night, wishing for it to stop.

It was worse in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma was where we came from, where Daddy and Mom grew up and had Danny, then me. We moved to California in 1957, when I was four and a half. I could barely remember living there, though we went back once or twice a year to see my grandparents and buy some horses. In Oklahoma, there could be real rain, and real snow, and real ice. Daddy had seen a horse slide right down a hill once, just couldn't stop himself, went down like he was on skis and right over the edge of a crick, fell on the ice, and had to be pulled out with a tractor. Couldn't be saved. At least in California we didn't have ice.

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The Georges and the Jewels 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Susan_in_Boston More than 1 year ago
Abby lives with her parents and an ever changing group of horses and ponies: the Georges (geldings) and the Jewels (fillies/mares).....thus named by Abby's father so they won't get attached to them, as they're trainers/dealers so the animals are all just passing through. Abby isn't your typical "girl wants a pony" character, or even a "lets get into the horse dealing business" girl: she's been training horses for her father since she was 8 years old. Her father has, in general, a good eye for the diamond in the rough: he buys some pretty ratty looking horses very cheaply from Oklahoma, trucks them to California, after they're trained and fattened up, they're sold for a nice profit. Abby loves riding and training, and is generally happy to see the formerly neglected animals, now filled out, their hooves tended to, and any behavioral/training issues sorted out, go on to good homes. Sounds like a mushy happy love fest, doesn't it? Well, nothing is ever black and white. A few big problems confront Abby....her dad has perhaps made a rare mistake in buying the gelding she thinks of as Ornery George, a mistake he isn't going to admit making any time soon. He's also not going to be backing down in the fight he had with Abby's older brother Danny, which prompted Danny to move out of the house, drop out of school and go to work. Danny's not backing down either, all of which leaves Abby shouldering more and more of the training responsibities. And then there is school, where a friend of a friend and the school's Big Four are in a knock down-drag out fight (over a boy Abby considers to be about the most boring human being she's ever met, which unfortunately doesn't mean she isn't going to get caught in the cross-fire). Last, but surprisingly least, are the smaller conflicts springing from Abby's parent's Evangelical faith and the modern (the book is set in the 1960s) world. This book has more detail on training (the good, the bad and the ugly) than any other work of fiction (adult or children's) that I've ever come across. It's got horses and a great jumping pony and a foal, and a girl who rides very well indeed. And yet, I don't know that you could call it a horse book at all. It's a slice of life for one thing: a bit of a girl's life...with very few black and white issues, and many shades of gray. If I had to boil it down to just one thing, I'd say it's about conflict: whenever you let something..a difference of opinion, incompatible personalities, individuals with different goals...boil up into open conflict - a real fight - you may have winners, you will definitely have losers, and beyond doubt you will have wide gulfs between combatants that are difficult, even impossible, to bridge. Worth checking out, especially if you're looking for a "think piece".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutley amazing! It is so touching, but not the mushy love story kind of book. This book is great for kids, but does have some bigger vocabulary words that they might not understand. All in all, its a great book! Thanks, Jane Smiley!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Abby is one busy seventh grader. Between school, church, and her family's ranch, there is little time for much else. Abby can't remember much about her life before the horses that her family raise, train, and then sell. The mares are all named Jewel, and the geldings are called George. Her dad feels that if they each had individual names, it would seem like they are going to stay permanently. Still, Abby can't help giving some of them special names. Jack is an unexpected colt whose mother died shortly after his birth. Abby immediately feels a connection to him and wants to do all she can to ensure his survival. Then there's Ornery George, who just can't seem to be tamed. Abby's father doesn't understand her fears and wants her to show this horse who's the boss. With a stranger's help, can Abby make this horse into a gentle giant? Each chapter in this novel features illustrations relating to horses. This was an excellent tale set in the 1960's. Anyone interested in horses and ranch life would enjoy it, and it's also appealing to others, as well.
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Jane Smiley is a great author.I am reading True Blue right now and it is a good book. I would reccomond reading this book if you love horses. I love reading and I love horses so True Blue is a great book for me.
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I did not buy this book for the Nook but I do have it in real form, if that is what you would call it, and I have to say it was really good! I sudjest this for children and for young readers. I am currently reafing A Good Horse, the second book, and that is good so far too. I love this book because it is just like real life. It is very discriptive and life like, as I said before. I hope people read this book because it is, by far, my favorite!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it was great i wish i could be like abby
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I Really enjoyed reading this book, I bought it for a car tirp. Even though it was ment for a car trip, a finished itafter i took a sneakpeak.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book about a girls problems, learning about horses, and a sliver of real life drama. An amazing read!
Tracy Revel More than 1 year ago
I love this book so mush when the school bell rong to put the book away i didn't want too.
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Regina Harmon More than 1 year ago
Tis is the best boook eva
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