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  1. #1
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    May. 20, 2006
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    Default it's driving me insane...sara gruen "riding lessons" question

    please help me figure this out, as i am on page 117 and it is bothering the crap out of me.

    i cannot for the life of me figure out what the main character's olympic-bound discipline was!!! so far, when she falls off, she talks about doing fences that are almost 5' (so much higher than advances level stadium fences, correct?), but the family members keep going on and on about eventing, eventing horses, eventing riders, etc. then the trainer at the farm is riding GP moves on a student's horse. throughout the book everyone keeps referring to her doing the "grand prix work." so which is it? ahhh it's making me crazy! (maybe i will find out later in the book but i can't stand it anymore and i have to ask!)
    My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE



  2. #2
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    Sep. 23, 2003
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    NC
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    Default

    That book is so inaccurate about the rules of eventing, it isn't even funny, especially in the sequel. 5' is higher than advanced SJ fences, which can be 4'3 max I believe. But then again in the sequel the girl does a ** as her second event ever and is then scouted for a show jumping championship...

    I guess it could make sense that at a multi-discipline barn someone might do GP dressage work, but most of the book is wildly inconsistent with reality.
    "Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense!"



  3. #3
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    Jul. 21, 2006
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    South Carolina
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    Default

    Ms. Gruen never lets facts get in the way of a good story. As anyone who knows anything about circuses (see, e.g. Water for Elephants) can tell you.

    I was really underwhelmed with Riding Lessons as well. Never read the sequel.

    I did read WfE because everybody was making such a big noise about it. Saw the author, and thought "Is that the same Sarah Gruen?"

    Yep. It was.
    I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show



  4. #4
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    Nov. 13, 2005
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    Kentucky
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    Default

    I was very underwhelmed also. I did like Water for Elephants, but I know absolutely NOTHING about the circus which helped. I am sure anyone with a clue about circus life would have been just as annoyed as I was about the horse books. I thought that the author was a horse person, so I was a little baffled why she wrote as though she did not have a clue.

    ETA: OP, I have no idea what discipline the book was about. I was just as lost as you are!!



  5. #5
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    Apr. 28, 2004
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    Saratoga Springs, NY
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    Default

    i'm pretty sure it's eventing, but lord knows, i could be wrong. it was about as clear as mud....



  6. #6
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    Sep. 20, 2005
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    Default

    It said in the second book that she did grand prix jumpers and **** eventing. And the horse the daughter rides won't let anyone else ride him and yet can do grand prix dressage movements the first time she sits on him.

    Those books were all sorts of confusing. I have no idea why I bothered to read them both.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris



  7. #7
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    Feb. 22, 2007
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    Default

    I also finished Riding Lessons wondering why I had just read that. I'm pretty sure it is intended to be eventing, though.

    Water for Elephants has been really highly recommended to me, too. I'm pretty disappointed to learn that it's by the same author.



  8. #8
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    Nov. 17, 2001
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    Bryan,Texas
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    Default

    I listened to "Water For Elephants" first, I enjoyed it alot. Whether it was true or fictious, it was intriguing and I didn't want to turn it off.
    I was very frustrated and annoyed with "Riding Lessons". I won't be listening to or reading the sequel of riding Lessons.



  9. #9
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    May. 20, 2006
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    PA
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    Default

    whew...i am so glad it's not just me!
    My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE



  10. #10
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    Feb. 15, 2004
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    Ontario
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    Default

    I never understood why it got such rave reviews, even on Coth! I have nowhere the experience and knowledge a lot of you have, but those books were so predictable and made no sense at all! Because of this, I never bothered to read the "elephant" one...
    "I" think "I" could have written a more accurate book... lol but I read it in French and figured something got lost in the translation!



  11. #11
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    Default

    Eventing, I would say.
    I haven't read Water for Elephants, primarily because circuses just don't interest me that much. I have read both Riding Lessons and Flying Changes recently. Honestly, I enjoyed the reading overall, but a lot of the riding stuff did stretch the imagination - especially when the daughter has a very advanced ride on a horse that no one else has ridden, apparently for years. Or the fact that the daughter advances in eventing so quickly. Lots of things.
    Having said all of that, I am not a super experienced horseperson or a stickler for details. I enjoyed the reading, but I didn't focus too much on the details of the horse world.



  12. #12
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    Sep. 10, 2009
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    25

    Default Sara Gruen rocks

    I am a librarian and yes, while there are inaccuracies in the horsey part of the story, I loved the portrayal of the relationship between mother and daughter. My teenage daughter and her friends also loved both books and "Water for Elephants." To each his own, there is a book out there for everyone.



  13. #13
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    Nov. 13, 2005
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    Default

    I am not a parent, so take this with a grain of salt, but I recall finding the mother/daughter dynamic extremely annoying. The mother seemed completely ineffectual and it drove me bonkers. It may also have been that the horse related inaccuracies had me so irritated that I found everything else in the stories equally irksome.

    For good horsey reading, I vastly prefer Jilly Cooper!!



  14. #14
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    Mar. 23, 2005
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    Portland, Oregon
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    Default

    Count me in the "driven crazy" category. Honestly, it would have taken less than a day's research to get the eventing rules and terminology right, especially for someone who claims to be a horsewoman.

    And I wanted to hit that mother over the head and explain to her my own mother's most important rule: "I'm the parent; you're the child!"

    Plus, especially in the sequel, I found the sense of pace and structure (in the writing, that is) completely off, so didn't enjoy it on any level.
    Proud member of the EDRF



  15. #15
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    Feb. 22, 2007
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ddashaq View Post
    I am not a parent, so take this with a grain of salt, but I recall finding the mother/daughter dynamic extremely annoying. The mother seemed completely ineffectual and it drove me bonkers. It may also have been that the horse related inaccuracies had me so irritated that I found everything else in the stories equally irksome.
    Me, too. I can actually enjoy wildly inaccurate horse books or movies as long as I'm permitted the occasional exasperated sigh or eye roll, but I really didn't like the main character at all and I thought her relationship with her daughter was annoying. "Ineffectual" is a good word to describe her...it seemed to me that a lot of her problems could have been avoided by actually taking responsibility for herself. The funny thing is that I can usually sympathize with that, but her response to these self-created problems was so obnoxious I just wanted to smack her instead.

    I didn't think Riding Lessons was badly written in a stylistic sense which is probably why I finished it, but the actual content was not appealing to me. I'm a horse trainer and not a librarian for a reason, though.



  16. #16
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    May. 6, 2009
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    Default

    I read the paperback, and to begin with, it had a racking horse on the cover.

    I read the sequel too, and I believe I read each of them while sick in bed. They were pretty terrible, but kept me occupied.

    There was an article in The Horse recently about chimeric horses with the brindle coat pattern, and I thought, there's the striped horse from Riding Lessons.
    2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

    A helmet saved my life.



  17. #17
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    Sep. 1, 2006
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    Default

    I thought the books were awful. Just put them into the donations box to take to Goodwill this week, in fact.

    If you're going to write a book so centrally involving horses, you do research. Writers' Workshop 101. I think the author skipped a few days of that class.



  18. #18
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    Mar. 30, 2007
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    Default

    I read "Riding Lessons" when it came out. Found it at the grocery store book section. *waits for beat down*
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!



  19. #19
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    Jul. 24, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    I read "Riding Lessons" when it came out. Found it at the grocery store book section. *waits for beat down*
    lol I also found my copy in the bargain-bin at my grocery store. Found it pretty predictable but I did read the whole book.



  20. #20

    Default

    I've read all three - Flying Changes, Riding Lessons and Water for Elephants. The two horsey-books were dismal. Absolutely dismal. I only read them both because I picked them both up at the same time.

    Water for Elephants, on the other hand, is wonderful (IMHO). I read that one first, and was so excited to see the horsey books by the same author. But you would not think it was the same author after reading.

    Water for Elephants is NOT about a circus, and if you think it is, then you missed the whole point. It is really a great story, thought-provoking and even poignant.



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