Mar 12, 2008

Danger, Danger, Ashleigh Griffen – Ashleigh #6: A Dangerous Ride

Ashleigh #6: A Dangerous Ride
Created by Joanna Campbell
Written by Mary Newhall Anderson
First Printing: August 1999

And fast on the heels of forbidden stallions and Ashleigh being grounded from riding, we have a dangerous ride coming up. Presumably, Ashleigh is no longer grounded, unless of course she’s doing something bad and sneaking another ride … but we shall find out in due course. And there’s the simple matter of what kind of ride turns dangerous?

Maybe the cover will tell us!

Ah! Ashleigh is riding Stardust. She must have been allowed to ride again. She also appears to be wearing show clothes, but looks very very unbalanced leaning over the left side of her horse like that. It’s enough to send any riding instructor into screams of outrage. Any more unbalanced, and she’s likely to tip right off Stardust. Or hey, if Stardust screeches to a halt, Ashleigh will find herself doing a faceplant in the dirt. She also looks far too big to be a 10 year old girl, and maybe even too large for that horse. Dramatic cover, maybe, like something out of a Nancy Drew mystery. But dangerous ride? Nah, maybe the summary will help us out.

The Summary:

Is Ashleigh forgetting her dream?

Ashleigh Griffen loves riding with her best friend, Mona Gardener, so when Mona starts jumping and competing in horse shows, Ashleigh wants to give it a try.

But without the right clothes, a fancy horse, or a nasty attitude, Ashleigh feels out of place. Spurred on by a group of snobby horse-show girls, she rises to the challenge, determined to beat them at their own game.

Soon Ashleigh and Stardust are jumping and showing all the time, and winning, too! But no matter how good she gets, Ashleigh still wants to be a jockey. Doesn't she?

Dangerous rides? Nope, nothing there, unless one refers to the “snobby horse-show girls.” The hunter-jumper scene can be incredibly catty most of the time; you have to have that $4,000 Butet saddle, or those $900 Cavallo dress boots -- it’s like swimming in blood-filled waters with man-eating sharks. Hey, maybe that’s it! There’s the danger! The Hunter Bitch Princesses will eat you alive! That said, the plot summary gives nothing important other than Ashleigh’s newfound hobby of horse shows and wondering if she’s giving up her dream of being a jockey. Well, frankly, considering she’s all of 10 years old, I’d say she could stick to the horse shows for a few more years, get some good riding experience under her and then go on to get her jockey license when she’s old enough. Hey, it worked for Christina, didn‘t it?

The Big Picture Plot:
Fresh from her adventures in The Forbidden Stallion, Ashleigh is now able to ride a horse again. Bully for her. Plus, it even sounds like she’s super good friends with Peter Danworth now, considering how catty and angry they were towards each other for two-thirds of Book #5. So off she goes to ride with Mona, and they end up popping over itty-bitty two-foot crossrails and Mona gets all excited about doing a pairs-class with Ashleigh. But Ashleigh turns her down because Aladdin is coming up to Keeneland, and she wants to go see him.

And so they’re off to the track, where they not-so-surprisingly run into a certain dark-haired boy (who just can’t seem to get a break even in a 2 paragraph cameo appearance) before they find that Aladdin has been stuck in the wrong stall (hey, didn’t we already see this in book #10 of the regular series?) and is throwing a temper tantrum. So they whisk him off to the comfort of Edgardale but not before Ashleigh meets a former jockey by the name of Sam Wiggens who was apparently so great he even rode Secretariat and was supposed to ride him in the Bay Shore, but oh, a tragic accident beforehand crushed that chance. Literally.

So Mona finally manages to talk Ashleigh into riding at a show, Caroline shows how talented she is at braiding a horse’s mane (and indirectly hints that while she does like horses, she’s not horse-crazy, so everyone needs to get off her back about it) and Ashleigh runs into two hunter princesses (scratch that, one is a hunter bitch princess, the other just rides really well) who criticize her clothes and her horse and her saddle (clearly Ashleigh does NOT have a $4,000 Butet) but lo and behold, Ashleigh and Mona win the blue ribbon in the pairs class. And then Ashleigh shoots off her mouth at spoiled Miss Debbie, and Ashleigh leaps into showing like there’s no tomorrow.

And at least, we find our ‘dangerous ride’ Ashleigh does something stupid, and races after Frisky who threw Mona at an A-rated show. Whoopie! Ashleigh clearly is the only person capable of catching Frisky. And off she goes to the racetrack to watch Aladdin’s race. And gets a bunch of people talking about how she will be a super jockey someday. Hooray!

Some Key Points of Interest:
  • pg. 30: Hey look everyone, it’s Brad! Poor guy can’t get a break even in a cameo. He’s “rude” according to Ashleigh. Instant clash. Yeah!
  • pg. 38: Aladdin’s sire, Royal Tee is a “full brother to Secretariat” which makes me giggle madly because he “never got a chance to run many races.” Yeah, which means either The Bride was substituted for Royal Tee or Syrian Sea was. It’s just amusing because it’s an obvious attempt to give Aladdin some kind of family relationship to some famous horse.
  • pg. 39: Sam Wiggens was supposed to ride Secretariat in the Bay Shore. Hey, did anyone ever tell Ron Turcotte he could have lost the ride that day?
  • pg. 106: Peter claims that Aladdin will be the next winner of the Keeneland Mile. Which Keeneland Mile might that be? The one that races on the grass? For horses four and up? In fact, the only spring mile race at Keeneland for males is the Makers Mark for 4-Year-Olds & up. And that is run on the grass. Research, people!
  • pg. 125: “Magic is out of Bold Ruler, Ashleigh.” ARGH! Mary, I gotta hand it to you as a writer who can pen a readable story, but for god’s sake, Bold Ruler is a stallion. Stallions do not give birth to foals. Foals come OUT OF mares. Foals are BY stallions. It’s a major pet peeve of mine when people fuck up terminology like that. Also, Bold Ruler died in 1971. For him to have sired Magic, that means Magic is 27 years old. Gee, he’s probably a bit long in the tooth to have been just off the track and doing show jumping, don't you think?
So there you have it, thrills, chills and spills! And the excitement of Ashleigh competing in the backstabbing world of Hunter/Jumper. Next up, Aladdin freaking wins the freaking Kentucky Derby!


Mara said...

A Brad cameo? Naturally I had to go do the book search function at Amazon and giggle at the findings. Want to bet the "handsome chestnut" he's guarding is Townsend Pride?

Lei said...

Oh, no doubt it was Townsend Pride.

Anonymous said...

Superhero Ashleigh got to me in this series. I want Jo back. She may have written unbelievable S--- but it was good.

Anonymous said...

okay, i admit that i loved the Townsend Pride reference in this book. it was made even better by the fact that it actually seems to fit in the timeline.