For Love of a Horse by Patricia Leitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve been in the mood for some classics recently. And not your Oliver Twist type of classics. These are my classics, my stories that built me, that made me who I am today and they are, I hope, stories that may do the same to you.
For Love Of A Horse, the first in the Jinny books, is quite possibly my teenage heart spilled over pages. And it’s quite possibly yours, and your neighbour’s and your cousins and your aunties.
The horse phase borders all our lives. It is a phase a world of people go through; that hungry, desperate urge to stand at the edge of the field and make that curling click with your tongue.
It’s been written about, of course, already. The Flicka books (which start with My Friend Flicka) and the Silver Brumby series (the first – The Silver Brumby) are beautiful, wild books that take the horse story and fling it into realms distant and thrilling, realms populated by horses called Thunderhead and Baringa and Banner and Boon Boon.
But Jinny, the redheaded eleven year old living on the moors in Scotland, trumps all of them and does so quite brilliantly.
A lot of that is due to Leitch’s Km Peyton-esque prose. Leitch writes with an understated acuity, which occasionally slides into paragraphs of poetical love. The following quote comes from a moment at the circus. Jinny, our lead, has just sat through an act with rosinbacks horses – their ‘patient watery eyes … their scarred legs and sunken necks’. And now, following that, Jinny meets Shantih for the first time:
‘The horse was a pure-bred Arab. She came, bright and dancing, flaunting into the ring, her tail held high over her quarters , her silken mane flowing over the crest of her neck. Her head was fine-boned and delicate, with the concave line of the true Arab horse. Her dark, lustrous eyes were fringed with long lashes and the nostrils wrinkling her velvet muzzle were huge black pits. She moved around the ring like a bright flame, her pricked ears as delicate as flower petals. Her legs were clean and unblemished and her small hooves were polished ivory. After the dull ache of the rosinbacks, she was pure fire.’
You could give me a thousand hideous chapters, a thousand hideous paragraphs, if you gave me moments like this every now and then. Moments which bring a catch to my throat and remind me of the girl I was and still am and forever will be.
Leitch is very, very talented. And the Jinny books should be, if you’re pony-mad or know somebody who is, mandatory.
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