Polly, Morgan Hidden Pond Polly, was not responding well to the angry rider on her back. Confused and upset she refused to walk. The more annoyed the rider grew to be, the more upset Polly became. The bit used by the rider was hard, uncomfortable and caused a lot of pain whenever the rider exerted a little pressure on the reins. Fifteen horses in the ring stood quietly, Polly did not. Kevin Jones hated the mare and he did not like to ride her. Jim Spencer, trainer and Kevin’s boss, was not at all happy with the showing Polly had made. Polly’s owner was to arrive on Friday, and Polly had better be ready. Spencer told Kevin to take Polly out to the back and ‘tire her.’
On Friday when a dispirited Polly responded quietly she placed 8th. Spencer who did not understand the finer points of judging was unable to understand why a horse who had ‘behaved’ could place so low. He explained to Mrs Clayburg that the judge was at fault. Mrs. Clayburg loved her horses, however she knew little about them.
The crumbling ‘lower barn’ reserved for the horses who were not being shown for a while became Polly’s dark prison. She was rarely let out of her stall, forgotten at feeding time and finally the old electrical wires sparked causing a fire that nearly took her life.
Escaping the fire Polly ran until she was well away from the fire. When she heard the sound of horses Polly followed the sound and made her way to the Arabian Farm of Bill Johnson. Johnson was a kindly man but, he was not one who wanted a Morgan. Polly was taken to auction the following week.
For the next several years Polly went from owner to owner. Where she had originally come from was now lost. Called Annie by several owners, she was finally given to the Chauncy Campbell the owner of Gallant Morgan Horse Farm. Campbell had had a successful Morgan breeding business until he became ill and had to sell his horses. Boarding several horses was keeping the barn partially filled.
If he hoped to be able to breed her and sell her colts, Chauncy Campbell would need to locate Annie's registration papers. Without them he could not to afford to keep her. Again healthy, Campbell hoped to resume his former work as a breeder. Campbell began the arduous job of trying to track down previous owners in his effort to learn Annie’s history.
Sixteen year old Heather Richardson, who boards her horses at Gallant Farm, helps to clean stables and loves Annie, at last finds out Annie's real name and origin. Heather is torn between shielding Annie from being sent back to the heartless trainer and being honest with her friends.
Writer Feld has crafted a magnificent tale that includes examples of truthfulness, dependability, comradeship, and human nature, in the quick paced chronicle of a lost mare and an adolescent girl. Ellen F. Feld, equine columnist, ardent horse lover, respected author, touches the compassion and passion of the teenaged horse loving set.
The tale of a mistreated Morgan, Polly, who is abused before becoming separated from her registration papers and the gentle young horse woman who slowly retrains the mare and gains her trust is a compelling one. The narrative illustrates fine examples of proper horse care and kindly, gentle handling as well as illustrating the importance of vigilant preparation in order to gain winning results.
A discussion of the stimulating Justin Morgan class which re-enacts the incredible physical accomplishments of Justin Morgan, and the Morgan Trotting Races, and is held on the same dirt road that Justin Morgan raced over 200 years ago is most interesting. Both events are cherished by Morgan Horse aficionados as well as others who just like to watch a good horse show.
As the owner of a fussy horse, and a person who has more than one rescue animal as a member of our ‘family,’ I enjoyed the read very much. I like that writer Feld clearly makes readers aware that kindness and gentleness work much better with horses than does rough treatment, yelling, kicking or harsh bits.
I will be taking my review copy to school to share with youngsters in fifth grade, former students of mine. Those little ‘horse women’ are girls who love horses and like to read.
Annie is a lovely tale for the middle grades to lower high school reader, a must have for the personal reading list, classroom book shelf, and the school, home and public library list. Happy to recommend.
Reviewed by Molly Martin