Tag Archives: Horses

The Diamond Horse – Stacey Gregg

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Harper Collins

          ISBN: 9780008124403

         ISBN 10: 000812440X

         Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

01/05/2017

         List Price: 14.99 AUD

I’ve bought two of the previous books in this series for my library but not had the chance to read either so I was very glad to receive this one for review.

Of course the horsey girls will love it (as they have done the others) but the historical facts on which it is based are also quite fascinating.

Two very different Russian girls and two very different special horses are separated by time but linked by a very special diamond necklace.

Anna Orlov lives in a magnificent palace in the often frozen Russian wilds surrounded by a menagerie of animals. They’re not pets exactly although two become so for the girl, rather they are part of the breeding program for which her highly-ranked father is famous throughout the empire. In the late 18th century Count Alexei Orlov was one of the most powerful men at Catherine’s court (not least because he was a conspirator in the overthrow of Tsar Peter III so that his wife, Catherine, could take the throne).  After Anna’s beloved mother dies, life with her cold-hearted father and her cruel older brother becomes almost unbearable as she discovers more and more about the darker side of both. Her only memento of her mother is a beautiful black diamond necklace that is rumoured to have special powers.

Anna’s father is given the credit for breeding the now famous Orlov trotters after he brings home a beautiful Arabian stallion to cross breed with the best of Russian horses but it is really Anna who saves the stallion’s foal and raises him secretly to become the foundation of the breed.

 

Valentina Romanov is an orphan trapped in a circus where she performs with her unusual looking horse, Sasha. She has however big dreams that go way beyond the tawdry and poor life she has at the mercy of her so-called benefactor, the ringmaster. Valentina has only one precious possession – the same black diamond necklace that once belonged to the Orlovs. [Her character is based on Alexandra Korelova who won Olympic gold with her Orlov trotter Balagur – also a former circus horse!]

The two stories run parallel and refer to many actual people and events fictionalised into this really compelling story.  After reading the novel I just had to go and look up the histories of both girls which proved just as interesting as the book.

I loved this – it was a great read and I can see why the girls in my library took to the others so readily.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 upwards.

Watch Alexandra and Balagur here to see just how truly beautiful this breed is!

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The murderous Count Orlov

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Fabish: the Horse that Braved a Bushfire – Neridah McMullin/Andrew McLean

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fabish

ISBN: 9781925266863

Allen & Unwin

Imprint: A & U Children

August 2016

RRP $24.99

 

When we read of the most calamitous events in history it is the displays of courage and heroism that lift us up from despair and provide us with hopefulness for the future. In many cases it is the bravery of humans that so inspire us but at times it is an exceptional animal.

Fabish was not a very successful racehorse during his days on the racetracks but he had a big heart and smart sense which he put to the very best of use during the horrific Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.

Following his retirement from racing, Fabish became a ‘mentor’ for yearlings at Tampirr Farm not far from Healesville. He proved perfect for the job as he kept them steady and showed them what was expected of potential champion racehorses.

When the raging bushfires began their deadly encroachment across the district trainer Alan knew he would be hard-pressed to keep the stabled horses safe and decided to risk saving Fabish and the yearlings by releasing them from their paddock.  He had no idea just how ferocious those fires would be and when at last the danger passed and he surveyed the wreckage of the property he despaired of ever seeing Fabish or the yearlings again. Yet miraculously as the smoke cleared and the ash drifted down from the hills came Fabish leading his seven young charges, all of them without even a singed hair.

An amazing true story which has a powerful impact and is so beautifully illustrated by Andrew McLean, whose talent for portraying the Australian landscapes is unsurpassed.

Highly recommended for readers from around seven and up and would certainly earn its place in any learning situation focused on natural disasters or Australian history.

Below is a photo and extract from the Let’s Go Horse Racing website in 2010 when Fabish was honoured before the start of the Healesville Picnic Races.

A year ago this Sunday fire roared through the township of Narbethong, approximately 21 kilometres from Healesville, and across Tarnpirr Farm, a 500 acre horse property owned by trainer Cliff Brown and his father Don.

Amazingly, none of the valuable racing stock on the property was lost, nor injured, thanks to the bravery of trainer and farm manager Alan Evett and the instincts of Fabish.

The 14-year-old grey gelding, who was prepared by premier trainer Mick Price during his racing career, sprung into action to save seven yearlings he was ‘mentoring’ in an outer farm paddock.

famish and the yearlings

Mrs Whitlam – Bruce Pascoe

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Magabala Books

Author: Bruce Pascoe

Published: Jun 2016

ISBN: 9781925360240

Ages: Middle primary, Upper primary, Young Adult

 

I am very quickly becoming very enamoured of Bruce Pascoe’s writing for young people (not to mention for adults). He is really deft at making his young adult characters believable and contemporary without relying on current vernacular or props to make them so.

 

Marnie is horse mad but from a family that precludes her from owning one of her own. But a woman in her town who has sadly lost her daughter gives Marnie not only the horse but all its tack. Unfortunately, even owning her own horse and being a competent rider doesn’t quite cut it with the other teens at pony club. Their attitude towards an Aboriginal girl in their midst is far from welcoming particularly when she is riding a Clydesdale called Mrs Whitlam.

 

However Marnie has a strong family and her own inner strength. When she and Maggie (aka Mrs Whitlam) rescue a child from the surf and seals a growing friendship with George Costa, the Golden Boy of the school, she becomes a heroine and her acceptance in a worthy circle of friends is confirmed.

 

This is an evocative text which illustrates the sometimes sly racist attitudes in Australian towns but is never ‘preachy’ which makes it all the more powerful.

Marnie and Maggie make a formidable duo and not least of all because of their individual strengths and loyalty.
Highly recommended for readers in Upper  Primary to Lower Secondary.