The Horsemasters by Don Stanford ; foreword by Sheila Willcox
New York : Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1957. Hardcover. 212 pages ; 21 cm. Price clipped dust jacket and bookplate on the copyright page. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
A richly detailed picture of life and work in a famous riding school
by Don Stanford
author of The Red Car and The Treasure of the Coral Reef
Dinah Wilcox liked horses, and she wanted to go to smart, expensive little Wells College instead of to State. So, being Dinah, she first arranged to work her way through Wells as Assistant Riding Mistress, and then persuaded her father to allow her to invest her grandmother's thousand-dollar scholarship legacy in qualifying for the job. That meant a long summer in England taking the Horsemanship Course at the famous Owen-Allerford Riding School, and then passing the British Horse Society's examination for a Preliminary Instructor's Certificate—or losing everything.
There's a lot more to horsemanship than looking cute in a pair of jodhpurs, and Dinah found it out the hard way among a group of girls and boys of half a dozen nationalities. Driven from daybreak until long after dark by the hated Mercy Hale, the Horsemasters of Owen-Allerford mucked out stables and groomed horses and cleaned tack; to the frosty command of Major Brooke and the screaming hysteria of Captain Pinski, they have catapulted off horses and scrambled back on again, doggedly, day after day, gradually learning the meaning of dressage, of cross-country jumping, of the difference between a rider and a horseman.
desperately against Blue Ride for the term-end reward of a free day with the School's entries at the Dorset Hunter Trials, the Horsemasters began to learn other, unexpected lessons as well. In caring for a creature so demanding and so totally dependent as a horse, each learned the meaning of responsibility; in the angry pride that grew out of their resentment of Mercy Hale's martinet unfairness and their determination to defeat her at any cost, they learned as a group the meaning of esprit de corps.
This is a richly detailed and accurate picture of life in a famous English riding school, as seen through the eyes of an American eighteen-year old and as it is lived for some fifteen weeks by girls and boys of similar age who come from all over the world to compete for the respected and coveted B. H. S. Preliminary Instructor's Certificate in order to qualify for careers or lives involving competent horsemanship. It may give pause to the reader—as the experience occasionally does to real Horsemastership students—who dreams of owning a horse of her own without realizing how many hours of hard work she must put in taking care of him and his saddlery for each glorious hour she spends actually riding, but there is also a deeply rewarding satisfaction in pleasure earned and deserved, and the endearing personalities of individual horses themselves.
For the girl or boy who rides a little or rides a lot, or who doesn't ride at all but dreams of doing so, the author hopes that this story will be of real interest and perhaps a little help.
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