Dec 18, 2014

Author Interview With Maggie Dana

Today I give you an interview I got to do with the very gracious Maggie Dana, author of the Timber Ridge Riders. Rather than putz around trying to write a decent intro, I'll get get right to it. Huzzah!

First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up on the outskirts of London, and I learned to ride at Pinewood Studios, England’s largest movie complex. Back in the day it was famous for Cleopatra with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor; more recently for Superman, Harry Potter, and the James Bond films.

Nowadays, it’s hard to believe, but many years ago there really was a riding stable at Pinewood, complete with a demanding trainer who made us jump without stirrups—and reins, if he was in a really tough mood. Sometimes he made us ride bareback.

 Maggie riding Smokey, her New Forest pony … bareback!

Besides horses and ponies, the stable also owned a bad-tempered cow, two evil sheep, a promiscuous pig, and a never-ending flock of chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

The studio would often borrow animals for scenes in whatever film needed them, and us kids had to get them there. My turn came with the cow. I dragged her, reluctantly, onto a sound stage where she promptly pee’d on the concrete floor. I was eleven years old and horribly embarrassed, but everyone else—the stars, technicians, cameraman, and director—thought it was the greatest joke, ever.

Several years later, I got a job at the studio and worried that people would remember the cow incident, but nobody did. After that, I worked in television, became an airline stewardess, and then moved to the U.S. where I got married, raised a family, got divorced, bought a Morgan mare for my horse-crazy daughter, went back to work … and began writing books in my spare time.

Maggie riding Whippoorwill Siskin, her daughter’s Morgan mare

What got you interested in being an author?

In 1979, I was working for a children’s publisher (Weekly Reader) and my boss had very little work to give me which meant that I sat, bored out of my mind, in front of a typewriter all day with nothing to do. When I begged him for work he just told me to “look busy.” He didn’t care what I did.

“Write letters, a shopping list,” he said. “Write a book.”

So I did.

On their time, their typewriter, and their paper. And then, sweet irony, I sold it to them, and my first children’s book, The Golden Horse of Willow Farm, was published by Weekly Reader Books in 1981.

Maggie’s first book with Weekly Reader
 (Note horse’s similarity to her daughter’s Morgan mare!)

What was your inspiration for Timber Ridge Riders?

You’ve probably heard of R.L. Stine who wrote Goosebumps, right? Well, back in the middle 1980s, his wife Jane Stine, who runs a children’s book production company, connected with me via my agent and asked if I’d like to write a middle grade series. Jane said I could write whatever I wanted with the caveat that the series be called “Best Friends.” I asked if she was okay with horses. No problem. So we tossed a few ideas around and chose Vermont as the setting so that other sports (skiing, skating, mountain biking) could be featured as well. For inspiration, I pulled on my memories of being in Pony Club as a kid and riding with my friends.

I wrote four books in the Best Friends series and it was published by Troll (now part of Scholastic) in 1987. When the rights reverted to me a few years ago, I decided to rewrite (totally) and republish the books under a different series name, and thus Timber Ridge Riders was born. Those first four books have now grown into eleven . . . with more to come.

There are a lot of horse series out there, how do you keep yours unique?

I don’t know about “unique,” but I think that what sets my books apart from the others is “point-of-view” (POV). Most, if not all, of today’s middle-grade horse series are told from first person POV (the “I” method), which means the reader only gets to experience the story through the main character’s eyes. They don’t get to see it from anyone else’s.

With Timber Ridge Riders (told in third person POV), we get to see the story through two sets of eyes (Kate’s and Holly’s) instead of just one (as in first person POV), which gives us a wider perspective on the story. When Kate’s in a snit about a boy (or something else) and we know why she’s in a snit because she’s told us about it from her POV, I can then switch to Holly’s POV in the next scene and we find out how she feels about Kate’s snit, which is often quite different from the way Kate feels about it!

This makes for some spectacular clashes between the two girls, and because the reader knows both sides of the story (more or less), they will have a better understanding of the girls’ behavior—good and bad and, often, incredibly stupid! But hey … they are teenagers. They’re allowed to be stupid. It’s all a part of growing up.

As with everything in life, there are pros and cons to each POV method and I enjoy writing them both (writing a book in first person POV takes less time, by the way!). I wrote my horsey/time-travel novel, TURNING ON A DIME, in first person POV and had a blast doing it.

Two girls from two different centuries and the horse that brings them together

Writing TURNING ON A DIME was a very different experience from writing the Timber Ridge books. First person POV allows you to dig deeper into a character; it can also be limiting in the whole “big picture” thing. In the end, authors have to choose which POV best suits their story and their characters.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just started working on Timber Ridge Riders book #11, HORSE CAMP, where Kate and Holly come back from Beaumont Park in England, only to discover that Mrs. Dean plans to turn Timber Ridge into a millionaire’s playground. Much mayhem will ensue.

Sneak preview of new cover design for TRR #11

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there?

My advice to anyone who wants to write is always the same.

Read, read, and read. Devour all sorts of books—whatever takes your fancy—and then read in the genre you want to write in. Immerse yourself in it. Learn all you can from authors you admire. Educate yourself about voice, character, and pacing. Make sure your grammar and spelling skills are top-notch. If not, take steps to improve them. But most of all, learn to tell a good story. That’s what readers want.

Finally, share some of your favorite horse books, and favorite books in general!

As a kid, I could never get enough of Mary O’Hara’s books: My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. I also gobbled up anything with a horse on the cover, and being in England, I had a lot to choose from. England has lots of great pony books! Here’s a link to get people started:

Recently, through writing the Timber Ridge books and joining online horse forums, I have discovered some absolutely fabulous horsey writers. Here are my favorites, in no particular order (you can find their books on all e-book retailer sites):

Natalie Keller Reinert (adult fiction about horse racing and three-day eventing)

Barbara Morgenroth (Bittersweet Farm series — YA horse fiction)

Kim Ablon Whitney (middle-grade and YA horse fiction in the hunter/jumper world)

Tudor Robins (YA horse fiction set in Canada)

In general, I enjoy reading non-fiction. History, mostly. But point me at a good horse book, and I’m unable to resist.

* * *

NOTE: Book #1, KEEPING SECRETS, will be available FREE on Amazon from December 24 to December 26, here:



Timber Ridge Riders web site

Timber Ridge Riders Facebook page

Maggie Dana’s web site for Turning on a Dime

Maggie Dana’s Amazon author page

Keeping Secrets (Timber Ridge Riders #1) on Amazon

Turning on a Dime (a horsey time-travel adventure) on Amazon

I strongly encourage you all to check out the first volume of Timber Ridge Riders, you can't argue with free! I myself have plans to check out Turning on a Dime in the (hopefully) not so distant future. The first four TRR books have been reviewed by Mara, listed here:

1. Keeping Secrets
2. Racing into Trouble
3. Riding for the Stars
4. Wish Upon a Horse

Huge thanks to Maggie for taking the time to do an interview! We look forward to reading more of your awesome series in the future!

Dec 14, 2014

Is Headed For the Win heading towards the trash? Well...

Headed for the Win
by Rachael Eliker
July 2014

Nadia Wells has spent her life trying to convince her parents that horses are a necessity but despite her best efforts, they see them only as an extravagant luxury. After landing her dream job mucking stalls in exchange for riding lessons, a wealthy philanthropist recognizes Nadia’s talent and decides to invest in her. Purchasing a mare nicknamed Winny, Nadia is sure she’s bound for equestrian greatness but on the cusp of their most challenging three-day event yet, Winny bucks Nadia off in front of a crowd of her peers. Humiliated and fuming, Nadia makes a birthday wish that she could better understand her horse. The next morning, she wakes up to discover she has four hooves and a tail swishing between her legs: she and Winny have switched places! If life as a teenage-girl-turned-show-horse wasn't hard enough, Nadia has to figure out a way to tell the dashing Mike how she feels or risk losing him and the competition to the talented, gorgeous and spoiled Gretchen. Will the pair concede defeat or work together to overcome the impossible and be headed for the win?

The Summary:
I don't know why more authors don't write the book summaries for their books. They tend to be 100% accurate, because hey, they wrote the book. Shock and awe.

The Cover: 

Kindle books tend to lean towards using real pictures of horses because most authors can't afford to hire any artist worthwhile, and they like their own work too much to employ the likes of later Thoroughbred artists. This cover gets bonus points for depicting a horse that looks much like the one in the story, though were I to nitpick I'd point out that the fictional horse has three white stockings. No big deal though.

The Plot: 

Meet Nadia Well, your more or less average horse loving teen who, like many, was cursed into a family that supports her love but cannot afford to buy her a horse of her very own. Her parents land her a job at Stoney Brooke Stables as a working student, cleaning stalls and caring for the horses in exchange for lessons. She finds a kindred spirit in her employer Danika, and immediately falls for the other stable worker, a young man named Mike who doubles as a farrier because that's a part time job that you work around shoveling shit and not a full time profession. 

We also meet Gretchen, a rider Nadia's age who has her own horse and perfect blonde hair and her life is just perfect and she has everything and appreciates none of it and don't you just hate her guys. Hate her. Do it! Nadia never shuts up about how awful Gretchen is, so you know Gretchen is a terrible person. If for no other reason than she keeps dry humping Mike, and that's Nadia's not boyfriend, dammit!

Anyway, Danika decides that Nadia will have a horse of her very own, because after a few weeks worth of riding lessons it's clear she's Olympics bound. Danika introduces Nadia to her old riding instructor, Ms. Deiderich, who has nothing better to do with her time and money than buy dumb teens horses. Nadia actually faints from this news I shit you not.

So off we go to look at horses, during which we hear a long boring story about how Danika used to have a best friend named Helena, but they hated each other at first because they competed against each other both at shows and over the handsome young lad, Chuck. Helena married Chuck and later died competing, leaving Chuck to crawl into a bottle for a while. They arrive at Chuck's farm and buy a horse off of him, Headed for the Win, or Winny for short.

Winny is a blood bay mare with three white stockings and a star, underweight with a scar on her flank that she doesn't like touched. Turns out she was abused and sent to a kill buyer auction where Chuck saved her. Before long Nadia and Winny are jumping four foot fences together because of course they are, then they're off to their first level one show. I will hand it to the author, Nadia fucks up her Dressage test due to nerves and doesn't place.

The next stop is the Gallant Meadows show some months later. Where Nadia will be completing at the Preliminary level. If you need to walk away for a bit to come to terms with that declaration, please feel free. I'll wait...


Back? Okay. So as Nadia is schooling Winny, she gets frustrated as her horse decides to mare up like every show mare ever and whips her hard on her scarred flank, getting bucked off for it. Nadia is fully prepared to sent Winny to the glue factory, being a pissy shit for the rest of the day. Well, until Mike shows up late at night with a cupcake because it's her birthday. Her wish? 

"I wish I could understand Winny."

A wish that should have delivered Dr Doolittle plot instead results in her waking up the next day having swapped bodies with her horse, Freaky Friday style. Finally. 

Now we get to the surprisingly boring meat of the story. Winny has no problem passing as human, she explains to Nadia her abusive past and flirts with Mike on Nadia's behalf. Folks, you know you're a loser when your horse is trying to get you laid. But, oh no, Gretchen is still around trying to flirt with Mike! 

No time for that nonsense though, it seems Winny is in fact really terrible as a rider. But sneaking out at night riding around for hours causes the two of them to form some sort of bullshit spiritual connection or something. They are ready to compete!

On the day of the competition, Gretchen randomly tells Winny that her family is a hot mess, since her mom is dead, her dad is an alcoholic, and her grandmother is all mean and shit. Character depth in our antagonist? The devil you say! In spite of their newfound sympathy, Winny and Nadia are determined to beat Gretchen because winning is the most important thing.

They get through the Dressage test and the cross country, with Nadia spooking and near shitting a brick over a plastic bag, a judge's hat, the shadows in the woods, and a creek. At this point they're tied with Gretchen for the lead, but they come across Gretchen dry humping Mike again and it pisses Winny right off. Telling Nadia she deserves better she proceeds to be a real shit to Mike. Wingman to cockblocker in an instant, this horse.

Nadia manages to sneak out of her stall that night and finds Mike bumming around, being a pouty lamewad. He tells the supposed horse that he really loves Nadia, but he doesn't know what to do about it. He also says he thinks of Gretchen as a sister and then kisses horse Nadia on the nose. It's really uncomfortable to read borderline bestiality.

The next day, Nadia's family show up to watch the show jumping. Chuck shows up to drop exposition, turns out he's Gretchen's drunk dad! And Ms. Deiderich is her scary grandma! And then Gretchen shows up with Mike in tow. Gretchen immediately starts dry humping Nadia's older brother Peter, because turns out she just thinks of Mike as like a brother. Bully for all!

While warming up for the jumping, a Friesian stallion runs wild and kicks Nadia right in the shoulder. They decide to compete anyway, numbing her leg with cold water and jumping clean, resulting in a jump off with Gretchen. Gretchen goes clean, so Winny and Nadia have to beat her time. Over the last jump, I shit you not, they get struck by lightning, somehow cross the finish line, pass out and wake up switched back. And they won, because fucking duh.

So Nadia makes out with Mike a bit, gets a trophy, becomes sort of friends with Gretchen, who owns Peter now so she's all about helping Nadia get laid, and has an all new perfect understanding of her horse. And at last, I am done with this fuckery.

Points of Interest: 

  • Nadia is a hard character to sympathize with when she's constantly pointing out how Gretchen is spoiled and rich and has everything Nadia ever wanted when some rich bitch just bought her a horse of her very own. Seriously Nadia, you have a very valuable horse and a ridiculous amount of gag worthy "natural talent" so shut your pie-hole.
  • Likewise, Nadia frequently refers to herself as "just a lowly stablehand." No one looks down on her for it, not even our antagonist really. Once we see Gretchen ask Nadia to take care of her horses for her, the rest of the book Gretchen grooms and cares for Isis herself. The only thing Nadia has to do is feed and clean stalls. You know, stablehand things.
  • I don't think the author really wanted Gretchen to be the antagonist, but Nadia paints her as one the whole book until the end. It's very interesting to see the author and the main character at odds, but it makes Nadia come across as a brat.
  • This author owns a Thesaurus, occasionally her descriptions get pretty over the top. Mike's eyes are not blue, they are bachelor button blue, with a ring of green around his pupils like stalks of grass and leaves.
  • Considering I bought this book solely based on the premise of a horse and person swapping bodies, I was thoroughly perturbed that it took 'til Chapter 12 to happen. Also, Winny's easy transfer to acting human was very disappointing. We ALL wanted to see Winny - turned - Nadia running around half naked, screaming and pooping as she went.
  • Why is Nadia still able to understand humans as a horse, but Winny can no longer understand horses?
In Conclusion: 

I don't think this is a terrible book in general, especially not for an author's first. I would have like to see more polish. Why did it have to insist Gretchen was an antagonist, when really Nadia was her own worst enemy. The book didn't need a bad guy. I had a hard time dealing with how easily everything came to both Nadia and Winny, especially Winny adjusting to being human. And I really didn't care about the romance, though I will give props to the author for what felt like a genre savvy moment where Nadia questions why she gives a shit about Mike when all she's ever cared about was horses. I don't know if it was intentional, but considering most main characters in horse books are complete neuters, it made me smile watching Nadia's confusion over her nethers tickling.

I did have a good time reading this book, even as I facepalmed. I'm now following the author, and I see a lot of potential for a second book, especially if she gets an editor to really help tighten things up. 

Dec 11, 2014

Recent and Upcoming Horse Books

So, I am a compulsive buyer when it comes to horse books. I go to used book stores and if I find children or YA horse books that are (very) cheap and sound remotely interesting, I buy them. I also check Amazon frequently, though thanks to having three real horses to feed (and being relatively cheap in general), I am less likely to buy new books online.

However, I do tend to keep lists of new series / individual books that catch my interest, and I figure since none of my friends give a flying fart, you all can share in my discoveries. Maybe I'll read a few of them for the blog, maybe not, but maybe you all out there might find a diamond in the many horse turds.

Recent Releases:

Released July 14, 2014
Headed for the Win
by Rachael Eliker

Available on Kindle, a girl and her horse switch bodies.

A GIRL AND HER HORSE SWITCH BODIES. I need this book in my life. This is the only book this author has written.

Released November 9, 2014
Roll the Dice (Bittersweet Farm Book 9)
by Barbara Morgenroth

Available on Kindle and older books in paperback, obviously a long running series that flew under my radar. Sounds like a series full of delicious drama, might be worth checking out. The author has a stable full of horse books, check them all out here:
Author page

Released November 20, 2014
Nothing But Horses (Shamrock Stables Book 3)
by Shannon Kennedy

Available on Kindle and in Paperback, I've read none of these books, but it seems each has a different main character, so maybe chronology isn't a huge concern. Others in the series are:
1. No Horse Wanted
2. No Time for Horses

Released November 22, 2014
JUMP GIRL (The Go Girls Chronicles Book 2)
by Leigh Hutton

Available on Kindle and in Paperback, part of a series focusing on girls in sports, not strictly horses. This book sounds banana-balls, it sounds like it's trying to be every genre. The first book in the series here:
1. Rev Girl

Released December 2, 2014
A Hoof in the Door (Eventing Trilogy Book 2)
by Caroline Akrill

Available on Kindle, again I haven't read any of this ongoing trilogy, but it sounds like the main character is really riding the struggle bus, so maybe it would be worth a look. The first book in the series here:
1. Eventer's Dream

Future Releases:

Releases December 15, 2014
Showdown (Red Rock Ranch Book 2)
by Brittney Joy

It seems there are far fewer rodeo centric horse books than show jumping and dressage, which is interesting considering the drama on the rodeo circuits easily rivals the English disciplines. First book here:
1. Lucy's Chance

Releases December 30, 2014
Star Rise (Horses of the Dawn Book 2)
by Kathryn Lasky

One of those stories told from the animal's point of view that really became popular again after the Warriors series took off, the author has written a few other similar series about wolves and dogs. Book one here:
1. The Escape
Author page

Releases April 21, 2015
Stormbound (The Guardian Herd Book 2)
by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Marketed directly towards fans of Warriors and Kathryn Lasky's books, this fantasy series follows pegasus politics... I guess? Not really my thing, but it does sound more unique than some. First book here:
1. Starfire

Releases March 1, 2015
A Horse for Kate (Horses and Friends Book 1)
by Miralee Ferrell

Releases June 1, 2015
Silver Spurs (Horses and Friends Book 2)

New Christian horse fiction series. I don't generally pick on religion, but these sorts of books tend to be easy targets. I may have to check these out.

Marguerite Henry's Ponies of Chincoteague
by Catherine Hapka

5. A Winning Gift - Releases July 7, 2015
4. Moonlight Mile - Releases April 28, 2015
3. Chasing Gold - Released November 4, 2014
2. Blue Ribbon Summer - Released July 8, 2014
1. Maddie's Dream - Released July 8, 2014

Described as a contemporary middle grade series in the tradition of Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. This series is on my buy list, may be review material.

Marguerite Henry's Misty Inn 
by Kristin Earhart

2. Buttercup Mystery - Releases June 16, 2015
1. Welcome Home! - Releases June 16, 2015

Described as a chapter book series inspired by Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague. What the devil is going on with all the Marguerite Henry stuff? Amazon is also listing like ALL her books in new Hardcover additions...
Well, these will most likely be on my buy list / potential review list as well, because why the hell not?


Any other recent / upcoming books that I missed? Please share in the comments!

Dec 9, 2014

Big Surprising Announcement!

Hello, my lovelies. This is Mara, coming to you today with good news! (I know. Just the fact that I logged into Blogger for the first time since June 2013 is sort of a miracle in itself, but I digress.) The blog and all of its various accounts will now be run by Heather, who wrote several reviews for us back in the day. She is super excited to hit the ground running, so for those who want their horse book reviews got 'em. Heather is your champion. Look to Heather. I will be about, probably not doing anything and letting Heather shoulder all of the work. Ha, ha, aren't I so awesome?

Please welcome Heather! 

Jun 11, 2013

Amazing Racer aka Shannon's Pride

Amazing Racer
aka Shannon's Rainbow

Every so often, a movie comes along that tempts me back into blogging. A movie so inspiring, so awkward, so full of fake tears and melodrama, that I am forced to act. That movie is Amazing Racer. Or Shannon's Rainbow. I'm not sure why they changed the name, but that's probably your first clue.

We begin this fine tale in Florida, because it is crazy and that is where crazy things live. Shannon wakes up in a hospital, and we quickly learn that her father has passed away and there is some concern that Shannon's recent "accident" was "intentional." It totally was not, because she was too busy "crying" and driving at a fire hydrant because her uncle's wife yelled at her for picking at her food and it is uncle's wife's way or NO WAY. That spoiled orphan! NO ONE LOVES YOU, SHANNON. NO ONE.

We are then immediately informed that Shannon is the product of a teen union gone horribly awry. Shannon's dad's family absconded with Infant Shannon and told Shannon's mom's family that Shannon died. Somewhat Older Shannon was informed that her mother died when she was Infant Shannon. Who is confused? Even Therapist Daryl Hannah is like, "Wow, this is like a TV movie!" Oh, Daryl. We are just getting started.

Shannon's mother, Christine, is a pediatric surgeon or something living in Pittsburgh. So she flies down and gets Shannon, immediately tells her that no one really wants to deal with this situation because dude, this is ridiculous, but promises Shannon that they will give this a shot over the summer and if Shannon doesn't like it she can go back to Florida and live with her uncle's crazy wife who hates her. Awesome options! Anyway, they go back to Pittsburgh and Shannon goes from weepy teen to instabitch for no apparent reason and then yells at Christine about how her problems are worse than hers and Christine is like OH, ARE THEY? So Shannon shuts up.

But Christine has a horse, and her boyfriend owns a horse farm, and Christine wants Shannon to see the farm and Shannon doesn't want to because horses are horrible and this is a smoke screen. Shannon loves horses. Shannon's dad loved horses. Everyone loves horses. But Christine makes Shannon take a shower and go to the farm, so Christine can "race" her horse for thirty minutes or something and then proceeds to get in a sulky and gallop a Standardbred around in a circle.

It's that kind of movie. Who is excited?

Shannon pretty much immediately gets caught trying to make out with an unnamed filly and is lassoed into a job at the farm. Christine's boyfriend has an amazing heart to heart with her after he's tried to get her "behind a horse" in which he guesses that "you were on a horse when you found out (that your father died)!" And then he said, "Ohmigod, your mom was on a horse too when she found out (that you "died")!" And Shannon is now too confused to cry because what the hell? Who makes random conclusions like that? But anyway, this is why they both refuse/refused to ride. Only some light badgering got them to stop being traumatized.

So then Shannon and Christine separately admit that they hate Shannon's dad and there is yet more crying, followed by a montage of memories, which means that now Shannon can start smiling occasionally and "get behind a horse." This means that Shannon is handed the filly she tried to make out with and christens her Rainbow, because of course. Then they race and Rainbow is "something" and everyone group hugs except this random dude who looks uncomfortable.

THEN. We cut to the Evil Owner character shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun in front of his mansion as Stanford Blatch yells, "That's 9 out of 10!" and presents him with alcoholic beverages. Evil Owner's wife tells him all about how awesome Rainbow is and he laughs menacingly and racks his shotgun.

Meanwhile Rainbow comes in third in her maiden race because Shannon wasn't racing her and therefore there was not enough love to motivate her. In the next race, Rainbow is claimed by Evil Owner, who sneers at them and asks if they know what a claiming race is. Boyfriend offers him $40,000 and yells "What do you want!" Evil Owner says, "Payback."

So now we know who the smart characters are in this movie, as Stanford Blanch literally pries Rainbow out of Shannon's grip as she yells, "SAY HER NAME, STANFORD! SAY IT!" There is  more crying and collapsing in stalls. Evil Owner tells his trainer to make Rainbow forget the girl and mutters that the horse is weak. So Shannon relaxes in a hammock as Rainbow bolts around in a panic. Odd juxtaposition, but okay.

Evil Owner's wife suddenly feels bad and says they should take the horse back and Evil Owner is all I WOULD RATHER IT DIE. Then he tells Stanford to kill the horse. Poor Stanford isn't getting a lot out of this relationship. So the wife gets Christine's boyfriend to intercept the moronic...veterinarians?...and buys the horse for $400 after Steve Guttenberg can not understand negotiations. So, hey, at least Idiot Boyfriend Character saved $39,600.

Then Christine yells at someone named Max, who is drunk, but apparently will save Rainbow who, after about two hours in Evil Owner's possession is at the brink of death. A night goes by and Rainbow has a full recovery from her phantom near death problem.

Shannon: "She should be dead, right Max?"
Max: "That's right."
Shannon (in baby voice): "But you aren't, are you, baby?" *smooches!* "Lovely Rainbow!"

No, really. And who the hell is Max, again? Anyway, I think he's sober now. Random dude (who is he?) who looked uncomfortable before is all, "Hey, Max and Rainbow!" Like they've been together forever. Later on, in some fit of paranoia, Max shows up at Christine's and is all "You have a spy! Evil Owner knows I'm working for you, or whatever I'm doing. WHO COULD IT BE? I'M OUT OF HERE!" And Christine is all, "Yeah, you gonna run? Are you a pussy, Max? Huh?" So she's finally like, "Oh, whatever."

Stupid Boyfriend makes Shannon the jockey for Rainbow's next race, the Pennsylvania Cup, because she's suddenly good enough and not an untested maiden or anything. Shannon finds Max passed out in Rainbow's stall (not surprising) and castigates him for not helping her. Max tells her some story about everyone's back story and apparently Evil Owner doesn't want Stupid Boyfriend to win the Cup. Ever. We have to take Rainbow to another farm and run Rainbow "fast and hard" and no one can know! Running fast and hard to Max, by the way, is trotting slowly in an arena. Then he explains basic racing strategy that everyone knows already as he is backlit by the sun and someone sings in the background and it is EMOTIONAL. FEEL THE EMOTION.

Then STUPID EFFING BOYFRIEND lets the random nameless dude know that Rainbow is up the road training in secret so no one will know, and then I guess says, "HAHA, CAUGHT YOU, DIRTY SPY." I don't know if this was a trap? He didn't catch him doing anything other than ask where the horse is any case, nameless dude calls up Evil Owner and lies and I guess things are cool now. Or...oh, who cares. 

Now everyone voice overs to montage and Evil Owner's Wife cries some more as Evil Owner says something cryptic and walks around with most of his shirt buttons undone. I can't tell if this is foreshadowing or what, because Evil Owner is arrested at the race for, as the cop says, "attempted murder, conspiracy...well, just a whole bunch of stuff." Miranda Rights they most certainly aren't.

Rainbow wins. Super random black and white snapshot montage. Group hug.

It goes without saying that everyone should watch this. I think that's all that need be said.