Catch Rider

Catch Rider

Book Information

Reader Personality Type
Clarion 2013

"The  Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away
Dying  to take you away, take you today"
--  Lennon/McCartney

"Now  I really got it. This was how girls on the A-circuit stayed clean and
relaxed,  not exhausted or dirty. They had grooms. They had someone to
clean the stalls  and wrap the legs, braid, feed, water, polish, and scrub. They
didn't touch hoof  polish when whey were dressed and ready. They didn't
clean out the grime from  between a mare's udders or the snot from a horse's
nose. They didn't pick the  scabs out of a horse's ears from fly bites or put
salve over the wounds to heal  them.
"How  was this fair? How could you say you rode horses -- and won horse
shows -- if  you'd never had to do these things? Maybe there was a trial
period, and once you  graduated, you just got a groom and moved up. Maybe it was
my turn to move up,  and I would never have to dig to the bottom of a filthy
stall again.
"But  I knew this wasn't true. These girls were just lucky. I thought about
Wayne and  what kind of rider he would have been with a setup like this. It
wasn't fair --  at all"
Fourteen  year-old Sidney (Sid) Criser has been a farm girl riding horses
since she could  stand up and walk. A teen with guts, attitude, work ethic,
and a true love for  horses, Sid lives in a smelly Virginia mill town, and is
dealing with her  beloved dad having died, her mom now living with a
physically abusive SOB, no  money for anything, and months still to go until she
can get her learner's  permit. (Not that it stops this farm girl from driving
all over the place  anyway.) It is her mother's brother, the amazing
horseman Wayne, who is the one  person Sid can count on. But, then, Uncle Wayne's
an alcoholic who can suddenly  be out to lunch on a week-long bender.
Wayne  brings Sid into his work space, getting her an after-school job
shoveling horse  poop 90 miles away at a fancy horse facility where there are
world-renowned  trainers, multi-million dollar horses, and affluent young
women who don't ever  have to get down in the muck. Putting up with the constant
crap dished out by  one of those seemingly-lucky rich girls, Sid suddenly
finds that her mouth --  and the horse skills she has to back up that mouth
-- land her atop one of those  multi-million dollar rides in a show ring.
Her  debut in the ring is all one could ever hope for. But when the rich
girl snags  her ride, it seems that Sid will need a lot more luck to make her
mark as a  catch rider (someone who can ride anything) given her lack of
funding and the  lack of a show horse of her own on which to compete.
"Wayne  looked at the tooth and got me some pliers out of his tool bag.
'Yank that thing  outta there. Real quick.' He pulled the horse's top lip as
hard as he could to  distract him and braced himself against the wall with the
other hand. The horse  snorted and his eyes popped open wide.
"'Got  him?' I asked.
"'Yep.  Get in there.'
"I  reached into the horse's mouth, clamped the pliers down on the tooth,
and ripped  it out. The horse sat back on his haunches and slammed into the
wall behind  him.
"Wayne  looked down at the pliers in my hand with the horse's brown tooth.
'"Good  girl.'
"The  horse shook his head hard when Wayne let him go.
"'You  can rinse now, mister.' I said."
I'm  no horse expert, but this tale sure feels and smells like the real
deal. This is  the first book by Jennifer H. Lyne who grew up riding and whose
grandfather  built the barn in which Triple Crown-winner Secretariat was
born. It was a real  page turner for me as I rooted for Sid to avoid flunking
out of school, do  something about her mother's abusive boyfriend, not get
herself arrested for  driving without a license, and somehow make it to
Madison Square Garden to  compete in the nationals. It also gives us a look at the
seamy side of the show  horse biz, with the doping of animals by trainers
who want to win at any cost.
Perhaps  you know a book where there is resolution to the story but you are
so into the  characters that you are not ready to say goodbye. That's how
much I enjoyed  getting to know Sid Criser and her Uncle Wayne. I'm sure
hoping to see another  book out of this debut author.

978-0-547-86871-4  288 pages  12 and up
Richie  Partington, MLIS,Librarian, California USA
Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (

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