A Horse of Her Own by Annie Wedekind

I am not a horse girl. I grew up in a farming community, and many of my classmates had horses and enjoyed riding. My mom’s cousin kept horses in the field next to our house (doesn’t my childhood sound lovely?). I enjoyed taking them apples and sugar cubes, but I was kind of afraid of them. The one time I rode a horse (thank you Pioneer Girls, for giving me new and different experiences – they can also have the credit for the only time I have been ice skating), I was terrified. The horse was so big and powerful and I was too scared to stay on it just to ride around in a ring. One of my aunts gave me Misty of Chincoteague one summer, and I would have loyally said that I enjoyed it, but . . . it just didn’t do much for me. I read Black Beauty a few years later, and felt pretty much the same. I have never seen Seabiscuit. I did enjoy Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, that movie about horse diving, but I think that was because part of it was filmed in my uncle’s house in Myrtle Beach. And also because I thought the main guy was dreamy. (Whatever happened to him, anyway?)

And so, it should not surprise you to hear that I would never have picked up this book if I hadn’t had a personal connection to it. My cousin’s partner, Annie Wedekind, is the author. My shiny new copy was delivered from Amazon last week, and I was excited to read it, but also a little apprehensive. What if the horsey stuff just didn’t do it for me? Well, let me tell you – last night I stayed up past my bedtime to finish the book. And you know how I like my sleep.

A Horse of Her Own is about Jane Ryan, who is spending the summer at Sunny Acres farm where she can ride her favorite horse, Beau, take the advanced riding class, and spend time with her best friend Robin. When things don’t go exactly as she had imagined, she struggles with training a different horse, Lancelot, with her feelings for Ben, who works in the stable, and with the question of how much she wants to fit in with the cliquish group of wealthy girls in her class.

For me, the best part of the story was Jane’s dealings with the clique she can’t be a part of. I related to her desire to be included, even as she wrestled with the question of why she would want to spend time with people who didn’t want to spend time with her. Jane’s relationship with her friend Robin was also great – they alternated between being serious about their horse riding and being silly teenage girls, which made them both likeable and believable.

As far as the horse stuff goes . . . I am not sure how it would read to someone who is a big horse person, but I thought Annie did a great job of explaining what needed to be explained and just expecting the reader to keep up with the rest. I still don’t know exactly what all of the terms mean, but I got a sense of why horses are so important to Jane and could visualize most of what was happening. I think that girls who love horse books will love this book and will relate to Jane and her desire to have a horse of her own. And I think that the rest of us can relate to Jane’s struggle to define who she is, her crush on Ben, and her fantastic relationship with her sister. Whether we love horses or not. (It did make me wish I knew how to ride just a little bit, which is probably the strongest possible praise that I can give a horse book.)

I recommend this for the teenagers and horse-lovers in your life. It’s sweet and funny and I enjoyed every minute.

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