or, Is It Just Me, or Is This Book Full of Errors?
I am currently trying to read a 2008 juvenile/young adult horse novel by Annie Wedeking, entitled A Horse of Her Own, which is set at a fictional hunter-jumper barn in Lexington, KY, where the teenage girls are taught dressage and cross country.
I don't know about hunter-jumper trainers, but I have not known an eventing trainer who would send her students off on a cross country schooling trip without having walked the course with them first. Somehow the idea of letting the jumps "surprise" the young riders just doesn't do it for me. Also, setting up a course with fences of varying heights doesn't sound to me like any cross country schooling I have ever known of.
Secondly, if you were a barn manager and one of your boarders colicked, would you
a) let him get down and roll every few minutes as long as he didn't kick the sides of his stall while rolling, and
b) turn your attention from him to comfort a weeping student rider (not the horse's owner; a totally unrelated issue)?
I am NOT putting down hunter-jumper trainers! I think it would be cool for a h-j trainer to include dressage and cross country in her/his training schedule. But where I come from h-j trainers do not teach cross country, any more than eventing trainers teach hunt seat equitation.
But why, oh why, do so many horse stories have only ONE BIG SHOW per season in them? What about weekend local schooling/barn shows? Why does it always have to be ONE HUGE CHAMPIONSHIP show?
I've read similar books, yes they are ridiculous, and I don't even have much horse experience of my own to compare it to, I've just read enough non-fiction and stuff to know what makes sense and what doesn't.
It's all dream fodder for little girls: happy endings, big wins and the horses always pull out of colic or injury to win an eventing or jumping championship when they should really be recovering in the pasture or on stall rest!
Of the heart-aching, hard-working, hope-having, horse-loving and horse-less variety. We are a sad species indeed.
Ah, but see, the lead instructors at two of the real life big H/J barns in Lexington KY got their start in eventing. One is Ralph Hill's niece. And there was an awful lot of dressage sneaking in at both of them, at least while I was there.
And the one gal was fox hunting at aged 8. Foxhunters know their fixtures but they don't ever walk them to my knowledge, hilltopping is done off to the side. Obstacles are of varying heights and way back in the early days of eventing I think they were of varying heights also. I remember being a jump judge in like 1980, and for the life of me I don't remember a crowd of people hiking the course ahead of time, of course they might have done it earlier in the morning before I got there but I got there at 9AM in the middle of the dressage, and I could see my fence from there, so they walked the course at 6?
And of course back in the day there was the One Big Show, Madison Square Garden, after you got good enough at all the little barn shows. Still have the Big Shows in the ASB world, Jr League, Louisville and St Louis.
Chalk it up to out of date research, or artistic license or a plot formula or all three.
Every book has some sort of drama that drives it. While I have read older YA books that do involve going to other shows (The Year of the Horse aka The Horse in Gray Flannel Suit movie) but they build the tension or advance the plot for which the The Big Show is the climactic moment where the drama or lesson resolves.
When you think about it, life is mundane. We do the same thing over and over. I don't know how a book set in the every day routine in a barn would be worth reading unless the occasional dead body was found in a stall, or a stranger in a ditch on the XC course.
~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
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