Can a Blind Horse and an Injured Rider Make a Winning Combination?Apparently whoever wrote this blurb does not believe in commas. That, or Amazon doesn't believe in commas, as that's where I lifted this from. Anyway, this is a Hallmark made-for-TV movie, so I warn you now about the sappiness. Also, seeing as how this has Julie Benz in it, I keep expecting her to scream "God doesn't want you!" before she has a nervous breakdown and kills someone. So sappiness coming from Julie Benz just really confused me.
Newly relocated to California Annie Garrett is left by her hot-tempered husband with a young daughter and a horse to support so she needs someplace to live and to work. She finds both at the stable where Mary Lou O Brian hires her and barn manager Guido Levits befriends her but the biggest challenge for Annie has yet to come.
Starting out, Annie (Benz) is getting ready to move to California, where her husband has found work as a farm manager or something like that. Annie is getting her horse, Tolo, from the stable she's been riding at since she was a little girl, back when she had a sister (Kate) and all was right with the world. Her old lesson instructor sits her down to ask her if she's really 100% positive that she's making the right decision, tells her flat out that her husband is an asshole, and gives her the name of a woman he knows in California if she needs help/work/a better mother figure. Touched, Annie says her goodbyes and goes home to say goodbye to her parents. Here we learn that her dad is the one Annie most connects with, while her mother is frigid and unfeeling toward Annie after events transpired that made birthdays forbidden in their household.
You see, long ago Annie forgot to pick up ice cream for their father's birthday. Kate had to go get the ice cream, and wound up getting in a car wreck instead. Her mother inadvertently laid all the blame at Annie's feet because had Annie just gotten the damned ice cream like she was supposed to none of this would have happened. So Annie's dad gives her a gas card and some cash, and as soon as she gets in the car with Asshole Husband, he asks her for the cash he figures her dad gave her. She gives him the gas card instead. Good going, Annie.
Annie also has a daughter, Taylor, whose only problem in life is that she's moving to a state where it hardly snows. Don't worry, Taylor's about to get a boatload of problems shoved her way, because as soon as they get to California, Asshole Husband finds out that there is no job waiting for him, so he abandons Annie, Taylor, and their horse. Annie has to find a place to stick Tolo, and because they have no money for the hotel anymore they wind up staying in a stall with the horse at some equestrian center place or whatever. Then she runs into this Mary Lou person her ex-instructor told her about, and they chat and blah blah blah she lands a job with Mary Lou, like we all knew she would, only it was a long, convoluted, hemming and hawing trip to that destination. Okay.
So she's working for Mary Lou. At this point, she's got to tell Taylor that Asshole Husband isn't coming back, resulting in child antics. She runs back to the equestrian center, where Asshole Husband happens to be working, and he abandons his daughter again. The nice vet, John, finds her and all is well. Then Mary Lou starts working on Annie, insisting she enter some competition thing with Tolo. Tolo is a dressage horse. This is a dressage movie. They enter a dressage competition and win, qualifying for some Grand Prix event that will be important later. Only after the event we discover that Tolo is blind (all of a sudden). Crap, you guys. Nice Vet John comes along and gives Annie her options. She decides to teach Tolo how to go on with his life by sticking a bell on Red, Mary Lou's dressage horse, and making them best buddies so Tolo can follow Red around. I have no idea if this is a sound method for teaching a blind horse how to do anything, but there you have it. The horse is taught. Nice Vet John and Annie sort of start to make eyes at each other (this idea is made even further obvious by people giggling all the time when they talk about them), but she is married and will just have to be friends for right now. He's okay with that because he is Nice.
Then she falls off a ladder and breaks her ankle or something. Her frigid mother shows up, intending to take them back home, but Annie perseveres and stays after they blow up over how her mom always remembered how may ribbons Kate won and doesn't seem to care about Annie. Later on, Frigid Mom tells Mary Lou that of course she knows how many ribbons Annie won (well, why didn't you just tell your daughter rather than sit there and look offended, you crazy woman?) and Mary Lou tells her about how her daughter died of a drug overdose when she was 17 and at least Frigid Mom has a daughter, so shut up about your stupid problems all ready.
Meanwhile, Annie doesn't want to ride because she doesn't think she's ready. So she keeps retraining Tolo before Mary Lou lays down the gauntlet on her, making Annie feel it's necessary to test her newly healed leg by riding Red. Alone. At night. It's like all these horse story characters have the same stupid thought process. Who's going to be there if you wind up not being able to ride, Annie? Huh?
Anyway, the most that happens is that she discovers she can't post correctly, so she fashions herself a splint and wins another competition on Red. Then the bank comes calling for $8,000, because Tolo was used as collateral for a loan. So they're going to come along and take Tolo if Annie can't come up with the money. She fixes this situation by going to the Grand Prix event she qualified for on Tolo and Red. Only then Asshole Husband has to show up and try to tempt her to go to Virginia with him, only the car is broken down and blah blah blah, which results in a fight where he shoves her and tries to cripple Red. Only Red beats him up and security comes and Annie makes him sign the divorce papers instead of charging him for assault. Nicely done, Annie.
Then Nice Vet John has to tell Annie that Red is injured and cannot be ridden in the show, so she rides Tolo, the Miraculous Blind Horse, and wins. She gets to keep Tolo, everyone has a birthday party for Annie and Taylor (they are allowed now, you see), her parents show up and Frigid Mom officially gets over it, and Annie tells Nice Vet John they can be friends and kiss. Joy! And Taylor gets two coolers full of crushed ice. The movie ends during a "snowball fight," which is really just everyone throwing crushed ice at each other.
So, yeah, it's corny and sappy and factually inconsistent and a Hallmark movie. I still liked it. Now if only I can get my library copy of The Derby Stallion to work. I know you all want to see Zac Efron fall off of horses, right? I mean, I do. I'm also working on A Summer of Horses, but after the fourth time someone said "Ye Gods" in the first two chapters, I determined that it was a book that warranted note taking. So, all I can say is, prepare yourselves.