March 2014, Orion Children's, 128 pages, Paperback, Review copy
Content: flooding, tense moments
Summary from Orion
When his family's farm floods, Joe comes to the rescue with the help of two brave Shire horses, in the final instalment in the brand new pony trilogy from Victoria Eveleigh, author of the Katy's Ponies series.
Joe is fascinated by every horse he meets. Lightning is a pony club champion, but new challenges await Joe with his second pony, Fortune. Then he meets Velvet and Sherman, two majestic Shires, who open his eyes to the world of heavy horses. And Joe is about to discover just how awesome Shires can be when they help him in a dangerous and dramatic rescue at the Hidden Horseshoe sanctuary.
Although I know some knowledge about horse ownership through friends, I'm learning loads through stories like Joe's. I hadn't given it much thought how hard it must be for children who have to switch ponies/horses when they grow too big for their current. Those like Joe who are privileged to have their own pony go through some pretty tough emotions when it comes to saying goodbye and getting to grips with their next ride. I felt sorry for Joe for having to go through that, for not completely clicking with Fortune, and also for being a boy.
That sounds odd, but I think that if Joe had been a girl, he'd have talked more than he did about how he felt with Fortune, which would have caused less anguish than keeping it to himself. That's why I prefer female main characters, as I can understand them better, but Joe's story is so engaging that I've loved all of this trilogy. I love watching him struggle to do the right thing and be happy – that may sound weird but as a writer making characters suffer is fun & an important element to any story. Living in the country I know how scary it is to go through a rising flood - it's hard enough in a car which isn't living so won't freak out - Joe has to deal with his own fears and reassure the horses.
I like how through Joe Victoria highlights there are plenty of options for boys with riding, such as training and using working horses, like the Shires who Joe meets. Obviously girls can do those jobs, but, in the strange mind of males it apparently seems more of a manly occupation than dressage.
Find out more on about horses on Victoria's website.
Be sure to check out the rest of the trilogy, and other books by Victoria like Katie's Wild Foal (Children's, 7 years +, 10E/10E)