Jan 2, 2009

Rodeo Rocky: How quickly could you break a wild horse?

Rodeo Rocky
The Horses of Half Moon Ranch #2
by Jenny Oldfield

Kirstie Scott lives for horses. While at a local rodeo contest, she is horrified to see how Rocky, an injured horse, is treated. Kirstie persuades her mother to buy him, but soon learns that training an ex-rodeo horse is not easy. And when Rocky throws Kirstie on a trail far from the ranch, she quickly realizes that the only way to get them both home safely is to trust herself and the unruly horse.

So, this summary really doesn't hit the mark. Kirstie doesn't persuade her mother to do anything, training Rockey isn't exactly what I would call hard, and Kirstie doesn't have some adventure involving trusting the horse to get her home after her fall. It's a little weird how off the mark this summary is, considering I did think the first book was relatively good for its audience.

This book starts off at a rodeo, where Kirstie is being predictably horrified by everything around her. My first reaction is if she's this upset by a rodeo, perhaps she should have stayed at home. At a certain point, the rodeo breaks out its most offensive event: the wild horse race. A bay stallion that is immediately named Rodeo Rocky is shoved in the arena for this event, and after a significant struggle he wins the race. Unfortunately he's all cut up and turning mean before Kirstie's eyes, but he's the crowd favorite so the lead organizer of the rodeo insists that they use the horse in the upcoming bronc riding event. Kirstie has a heart attack about this and causes a giant scene during a lull between horses, when one rider has fallen and could very well be dead for all Kirstie cares. She's too upset about Rocky being used in the event to register that this unconscious guy is being carted off by paramedics, as the narrative briefly wonders if he'll live. Human tragedy is not as important as making sure this horse with a few cuts on his flanks doesn't have to go through some more rodeo antics, at least this is the case for Kristie's horse story main character mind set.

Out of nowhere, her mom jumps in to offer the rodeo organizer two thousand for the horse. He accepts and they take Rockey to Half Moon Ranch. Everyone is a little confused about what they're going to do with this horse. Some people think Kirstie's mom is insane for dropping that much money on this horse, and then they go act stupid by releasing it (a stallion, mind you) in a round pen with two mares. Right off the bat. As in they back the trailer up to the round pen and release it straight in there with the other horses. Predictably, the stallion rushes in and kicks one of their mares right in the face.

The mare survives this trauma, and shockingly enough no one ponders to themselves how they could have avoided this whole thing. Hey, people, it's called FORETHOUGHT. Take the two mares OUT of the pen before putting a PANICKED STALLION in the pen. Come on. Anyway, so Rocky is in the pen and Kirstie decides to let him lay low the rest of the day before gradually introducing herself to him. Once she starts to "train" the horse, it goes pretty well. He's following her around like a loyal dog after only a few days. Breaking him to saddle is also uneventful. As in completely uneventful. The only thing that stirs up some drama is a trail ride, where some moron drives a giant truck right up to Rocky and he spooks and takes off.

Everyone freaks out, overreacting completely, except for Kirstie (predictably), who keeps insisting horses can and will spook when rushed by a truck. But no one listens, they continue to freak, and Kirstie's mom announces that the horse is going to auction because no one can 100% guarantee that he'll be a safe horse for their guests. Seriously? What horse is 100% safe?

Well, anyway. Eventually Lucky, Kirstie's palomino, somehow finds himself in a mud pit and they have to use Rocky to haul him out. After they all discover that they can keep the horse and give him to Charlie, their cute ranch hand, to ride. What? Why didn't they think of this a hundred pages ago?

Sigh.

  • Head collars! I have never known an American to use this phrase. Jenny Oldfield was going pretty well with using the word halter, but then at some point a switch was flicked and suddenly it was all head collar all the time.

Anyway, I'm not a fan of this one. I started skimming pretty early on because Kirstie was annoying during the rodeo and she got worse from there when she was training Rocky. It was just too typical a horse book, what with the Mary Sue interaction with a horse that goes from wild to perfectly tame within the space of a week. I did like that Rocky wasn't kept for Kirstie to ride, because if he had been it would have been a completely predictable story. This detail saved it just slightly, but I still would recommend the first book over Rodeo Rocky.

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