I walked over to a stack of books and grabbed the one in top without looking. Which book was it? The one I’m doing a blog-post on.
Hard Luck Horse is another one of my many former library books, so it’s got a cute sticker on the binding of a galloping horse. Ah, how I used to keep my eye out for those books at the library. But the Altadena Library that I grew up with put all the horse books in one little section so I wouldn’t have to search so hard. I loved that.
Hard Luck Horse, by Fern G. Brown is one of the few horse stories that takes place at a Western barn, as opposed to an English stable. It seems that most horse barn stories are at English barns, so I was pleased to find this one, preferring Western myself.
Cristi Barrett is delighted with the new horse at White Owl Barn, where she works. He’s a sharp little sorrel that seem to be a perfect barrel horse. (for non-horsey readers, that is a sport where riders see who can run their horse around three barrels the fastest. It’s quite poplar and many riders make money doing it. I personally have issues with it, but this book is completely fiction, so it’s okay.) Cristi has high hopes of buying the sorrel, who she names “Woody Dip” because of his habit of chewing wood and dipping his head. Her friend, Jeff, who’s also the owner’s son, hopes she get the horse as well. However, there are two problems: Cristi and her family don’t have much money, and her rival at the barn, who she calls “yukky Allison” is going to be getting a horse for her birthday, bought for her by her parents, and Allison has eyes on Woody Dip.
Cristi gets to keep Woody Dip for the riding club, though, and he’s hers until after the big show. She goes to practice with him and all goes well… until he begins making mistakes, and Allison decides that she likes Woody better than the other horse she was thinking about getting. The vet comes to check out Woody Dip before Allison buys him (it’s standard procedure to have a vet check out a horse before buying). Cristi takes another blow as the vet discovers cancer in the horse’s eye. Sorry, but unwilling to go through the expense of surgery, the barn owner decides that they’ll have to put Woody to sleep, but Cristi convinces him, and her parents to let her pay for the cost. She’ll do anything for the horse. All goes well, and Woody begins to recover. Then trouble with Allison surfaces; a new horse is in Woody’s stall at the barn, and all Cristi can guess is that Allison bought Woody and moved him to the border’s area. She and Allison have a verbal fight and both leave angry.
Everyone is practicing hard for the Junior Rodeo that is coming, and Cristi is less than happy with the replacement horse, Princess, that she has to use for the rodeo in place of dear Woody. Allison had not bought Woody, Cristi found out later, she’d bought Butterscotch. But a farmer, who lived a couple hours away had bought Woody. The girls patch it up during practice, and do well in the rodeo. As the dust settles at the end of the day, a truck comes in with a little sorrel horse: Woody Dip! The farmer brought him back, due to his kids forgetting to take care of the horse, and it becoming too much of a burden. Cristi is ecstatic to have Woody back, and they find a place for him at the barn.
“No!” yelled Dakota. “Leave him! He’s sacred. He’ll run himself out.”
Dakota was right. Breathing hard, the little sorrel soon slowed to a jog. Then he sauntered over to the log pile. Opening his mouth wide, he bit off a huge chunk of wood.
Cristi laughed. Still chewing, the little sorrel nuzzled up to her. She patted his neck and hugged him. For Cristi, it was instant love.