- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Dial Books; First Printing edition (May 13, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803734786
- ISBN-13: 978-0803734784
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Outside of a Horse Hardcover – May 13, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9 Hannah, 13, has always loved watching horse races on television with her father, but when she begins to help out at a local riding stable, she discovers how much more she enjoys working with real animals, especially those who have suffered abuse. She particularly loves a filly named Rega, the offspring of a Premarin mare (a pregnant horse from which urine is collected to make pharmaceuticals). When her dad returns from Iraq as an amputee suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Hannah's work at the stable not only helps her cope with the problems at home, but also leads her to equine-assisted psychotherapy and riding therapy for her troubled father. Things improve, but Hannah will need all her strength to make a difficult decision when Rega suffers a terrible injury. Like Rorby's Hurt Go Happy (Tor, 2006), this book is laden with so many issues the problems of returning vets, various and horrifying types of abuse of horses, humane Parelli horse training methods that they nearly overwhelm the story, and the horse/human amputee metaphor becomes heavy-handed. However, this novel really shines in showing how horses can help troubled humans heal their physical and emotional wounds. There's plenty of fodder here for spirited book discussions. Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
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Hannah visits the horses up the road for the pleasure of their company and to escape the pain of her mother’s death, the demands of stepmom Sondra, and the fear resulting from her dad’s deployment in Iraq. When he comes home missing a leg and plagued by post-traumatic stress disorder, Hannah longs for the old days when they shared a love of horses and a keen interest in famous racehorses. She works with adult friends in the equestrian community—horse-rescue activists—to get him help through a therapeutic riding program and keep their life together. Although the enormity of loss resting on young Hannah’s shoulders spurs her to heroic achievement on behalf of her father, she still comes across as a believable teen. As a backdrop to the story, Rorby has interwoven a good deal of disturbing information about animal cruelty. Horse lovers and most others will saddle up right away with this poignant tale. Grades 7-10. --Anne OMalley
Top customer reviews
Ginny Rorby is the natural world's best friend. Her earlier HURT GO HAPPY is the poignant story of a deaf child and a chimpanzee who communicate through sign language. This time, Rorby turns her attention to rescued horses, and their healing effect on a girl and her war-wrecked father.
Young readers (and their aunts)will be sucked right in to this moving novel. Hannah Gale's mother died five years ago. She lives with her harried stepmother now, while her father is half a world away in Iraq. To assuage the loneliness, Hannah begins visiting a nearby stable. She finds comfort in the company of horses and the women who work there.
When Jeff Gale returns from Iraq with a missing leg and recurring nightmares, the already precarious household starts to crack. Hannah again turns to her beloved horses for solace and tries to get her father to do the same. Some of the most touching scenes come in this highly charged section. The juxtaposition of human/animal suffering is beautifully rendered. But to say any more would give too much away. It's enough to know that it is an affective, well-paced ride to a satisfying conclusion. Kids will come away angry at the unnecessary cruelty to animals, and that's a very good thing.
Kudos to you, Ms. Rorby. I'm waiting not-so-patiently for the next one.
The Outside of a Horse is an emotional roller coaster of a book that stirs the heart, teaches valuable lessons about overcoming obstacles and shows how dedicated, creative action can indeed help solve problems. It is a tale that brilliantly demonstrates how our linkage to the world of animals has the capacity to heal and in the process, to make us more humane.