by Anita Daher
Publication Date: May 8, 2015
Publisher: Rebelight Publishing
Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.
An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.
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This is a short, well written and awesome story that I enjoyed immensely. The characters are ones that anyone can relate to and the problems that Sera faces are real - from moving and having to go to a new school and making new friends, to bullying. I enjoyed Sera's character a lot. When life seem hopeless and difficult at times, she always seemed to work through it. Of course, she had some awesome parents standing behind her - which helped a bunch. Her new friend, Dev, was a hoot as well. The real star in this book though is Wager and he is the coolest horse. Ever. He has so much personality and smart - the tricks he does are spectacular!
This book captured my heart and will really appeal to anyone who has ever loved a horse. Even if you aren't a horse lover, this is definitely a book you need to pick up. It is a beautifully written novel about discovering yourself and leaning to get back up when life knocks you down. It is also a great example on how you should to follow your heart and do what makes you happy regardless of what other people think. This is just an awesome feel good story that everyone should read, especially young adults. You'll want to pick this one up...you won't be disappointed!
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As we walk our horses toward the arena door, I see Brittany watching us, and she doesn’t look happy. Talk about jealous! As usual, her mare flattens her ears at Wager. That mare might benefit from Mom and Dad’s lecture on actions and reactions.
“Dani,” Brittany calls, “have you seen some of the other things Wager can do?”
“What do you mean?” Dani asks.
“Yeah, what do you mean?” I echo.
“He’s a good looking horse,” she says. “Flashy.”
She looks at me, as if expecting me to say something. Like what? I’m way too surprised.
“Since they’re going to be at the winter show anyway, why don’t they enter a showmanship class?”
Dani cocks her head to the side. “I wonder,” she says. “Sera, what do you think?”
I’ve watched showmanship classes in Calgary. It wouldn’t be like our lesson. Wager would have to be groomed to look like a million bucks—not a problem for my boy—and must respond instantly to my cues to walk, trot or halt. He’d also have to stand still for very long periods of time.
“Honestly? I don’t think he’s patient enough.”
“Well let’s see,” she says. “Go ahead and walk a small circle with him.”
I feel like today’s lesson has been three-in-one! We walk, trot, stop, and start and backup on Dani’s cues. Finally she calls us in. “I think you’ll do fine if you’d like to try it,” she says. “Good idea, Brittany.”
“No problem,” Brittany says, and I see a strange glint in her eyes. “Wager’s a good boy.” She looks at him. “Aren’t you. Wager? Such a good boy!”
I’m so busy thinking about the show that I don’t notice how closely Wager is listening to Brittany. I catch on just in time to watch Wager offer a vigorous “yes” head-bob, which unfortunately catches Dani’s chin on the upswing.
“Son of a gun!” she shouts after a sharp cry of pain. She’s holding her chin, but manages to look at me and spit out, “What is that?”
“A trick,” I say, my voice small.
She shakes her head. “Bad idea, Sera. Does he always do that when someone tells him he’s a good boy?”
“Pretty much,” I say. “You have to be looking at him.”
“And what if a showmanship judge tells him the same thing?” She lets go of her jaw and gives her head a roll, as if to work out the kinks, and I get the sense she’s not really waiting for me to answer. Her chin is red where Wager whacked her. “I’m not confident that we can train that out of him in one week. Stick to reining this time around, Sera. We’ll work on showmanship another time.” She turns and—muttering the whole way—leads Spike out of the arena.
“Why did you do that, Brittany?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says, smirking. “Clearly, Wager is a special boy, but that doesn’t mean he can be good at everything.” She sniffs. “You don’t have to show him, you know. He’s a nice riding horse. Why don’t you stick with that?”
My heart and every bit of happy I had in me drops to the arena floor. I don’t know what I did to turn Brittany against us, but it’s pretty clear she doesn’t want us in her world.
We’ll show her, Wager. We’ve got to.
I stroke Wager’s nose. Brittany’s right about one thing. He is a nice riding horse. We used to have so much fun together. When exactly did riding stop being fun?
Anita Daher has been entrenched in the publishing industry since 1995, and is (thus far) author of fourteen books for children and teens. Aside from short stints as grave-plot seller, tour guide, and children’s party clown, she’s worked in aviation, publishing and broadcasting. When not word wrangling, she enjoys inhabiting characters on stage and screen.
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