Showing posts from November, 2013

Review: Kate Lattey - Dare to Dream

Beg, borrow or steal an Ereader if you don't have one. This book is so far only available in electronic format, and you absolutely have to read it. This is a book that grabs you and doesn't let go. It's the story of three sisters, Kris, Van and Marley, and their horse operation in New Zealand. The girl's mother died when Marley was born, and their father was killed in an accident three years ago, leaving them to struggle on in an attempt to keep their farm going, and their family together. Easy is the absolute last thing it is. Kris broke her spine falling from her horse; she and middle sister Van both left school without any qualifications, and life is a constant, hard struggle. The sisters just about keep the wolf from the door by buying problem horses, schooling them, and selling them on. Just when it looks as if their ship might come in, with a pony who might win Pony of the Year, ridden by talented youngest sister, Marley, Nimble has a serious accident. T

Review: Maggie Dana - Taking Chances

If you've rather lost faith with the Timber Ridge Riders series, take heart. Maggie Dana has excelled herself with the latest episode.  Taking Chances  in the Timber Ridge Riders series is set just before Christmas, so is a good seasonal read. Heroine Kate still needs to ride in one more competition to have any chance of qualifying for the Festival of Horses competition. Unfortunately, an accident means she’s really up against it. As it’s a horse story, it does follow the convention of overcoming physical adversity successfully, but the rest of the plot is readable, funny and perceptive. Best of all, the author has moved away from the model she’s followed in all the previous books, and although arch villain Angela Dean is still present, she doesn’t sabotage Kate, or do her down. Instead, we get to see rather more of Angela’s life, after her mother sells her horse from under her and presents her with another as a fait accompli. Besides Kate, best friend Holly is presen

A quick report on fly grazing and welfare

Even if you live in the inner City, you've probably seen fly grazing, where herds of horses suddenly appear on land that they don't have permission to be on. Near where I used to live, on the Wellingborough embankment, the local council spent thousands some years ago on putting up smart post and rail fencing around its land. Little of it now survives, because it has been removed by people breaking down the fences to graze their ponies. These ponies are regularly, repetitively, complained about on welfare grounds to the local authority, and to World Horse Welfare, the RSPCA... you name it. I've complained myself. My son and I corralled a skewbald who'd got loose one evening until the police turned up to deal with it. Fly grazing near Irchester Last year, the Embankment horses were finally removed because of welfare concerns. I don't know what happened to those horses, and I've since moved from the area, but when I drove back that way a couple of months ago

Children and Ponies in World War II

I've been doing a lot of research recently into the lot of the domestic rider in World War II. There is a long term point to this, as I'm writing a story about it, but all that lovely research gives me an almost endless parade of excuses for not writing the story (16k so far, in case you're wondering) because I really need to know facts for this. And there are endless things I can find out to add local colour. I have a virtually complete run of Riding Magazine from its start in 1936 up until the early 1960s, and it is fascinating to read them from the point of view of someone who was born well after the events they describe. I have the benefit of knowing that, despite the editor's fervent hopes, war would not come to an end early in 1940, or the next year, or for some years after. I knew rationing was on the way; that finding horses fodder would be increasingly difficult; that petrol rationing would give the driving pony a boost. What is really interesting is seeing