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Reviewed by Gary Stout for Readers' Favorite
In Emma and the Cutting Horse, Martha Deeringer has woven a delightful tale around the adventures of Emma, a fourteen-year-old girl who, with her parents, lives on a cattle ranch in Texas. Raising cattle has its moments, but for most small ranchers it does little more than pay the bills and requires long days all year round. So, when Emma’s father decides to purchase a young two-year-old mare at an auction, it takes family commitment to make ends meet to support the new member to the ranch’s collection of critters. Yet, her father saw something in the young horse that other bidders had not. And so, over the next year, with the help of a professional cutting horse trainer, Emma and her family live a sort of equine Cinderella story as they watch the stubborn two-year-old blossom into a National Cutting Horse Association contender. Even so, the chasm between ranch life and city life can rear its mighty head and Emma’s love of horses saddles her with embarrassment at the hands of a classmate who bullies those she deems beneath her in social standing, and that certainly includes cowgirls. Still, Emma holds her head high and enjoys her opportunities to train, learn, and experience; she even joins a search on horseback for a missing girl.
Having spent a small bit of time around horses myself, I felt I was in the paddock or arena as the characters worked and played. Deeringer's descriptions were spot on, making me sweat with the heat or shiver with the frost as the seasons dictated. She's definitely captured the subtle nuances of horses and written a story that both teens and young adults will certainly enjoy. She has an adept grasp of simile, and she populates her story with well-defined characters that flesh out their roles in the story. I highly recommend Emma and the Cutting Horse and I’d love to see more of Emma as she experiences more equestrian adventures.