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The Word on the Yard: The Pony Whisperer    by Janet Rising order for
Word on the Yard
by Janet Rising
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Pia Edwards is not a happy camper. Her father has left the young girl's mother for Skinny Lynny. On top of that major family disruption, Pia and her mom have to move to a new, smaller house. This means a new school for Pia and a new boarding stable for her pony Drummer.

The unhappy youngster gets off to a terrible start when she clashes with another girl over the stall she is assigned at Laurel Farms. Catriona, the stable's diva, wants to switch her pony into the empty stall to be next to James, the local teen heart throb. But before Cat can make the move, Pia arrives. Cat's nasty attitude gets Pia's back up and she won't oblige the pushy teen by taking another spot.

Since both girls also attend the same school, Pia's newly acquired best enemy plans to make Pia's adjustment a nightmare. Just when things seemingly couldn't get any worse, Pia's mom decides to jump into the dating pool again. Ugh!

Pia's existence is pretty bleak when she stumbles upon a 2,000 year old statue of a woman riding a horse. An image of Epona, the Celtic and Roman goddess of horses, the little statue has an amazing power. It allows the person who holds it to understand and converse with horses. In the blink of an eye, Pia has a power that will change her entire life.

Now the girl not only can converse with her pony but she can talk to other ponies in the stable. When she uses her new power to save the life of one of Drummer's stablemates (in the early stages of a colic attack), Pia's fate is sealed. Labeled the pony whisperer, the girl's fame spreads quickly. An article in the local paper leads to a couple of television appearances and soon complete strangers are seeking her assistance.

Granted her new persona earns Pia friends quickly, but it also exacerbates the problem she has with Cat, who is envious of not only Pia's fame but also the fact she has become a little too friendly with James.

As the story unfolds you'll follow the rocky ride that accompanies Pia's new role as the pony whisperer as well as what is happening in her family life. Another plus of the girl's ability to converse with horses is the realization that her own pony has a wonderful attitude. Drum's caustic remarks not only keep Pia grounded so she doesn't get a big head, but they'll also elicit a few chuckles from the reader.

Obviously the power the statue gives Pia pushes the envelope in this novel, but in every other way this young lady is very believable. Thanks to crisp dialogue and a story line that moves quickly, this novel is highly entertaining.

The author, who has edited PONY (Britain's top selling horsey teen magazine) and is passionate about horses (and ponies) herself, hammers home throughout the book the necessity of caring for a pony properly.

Feeding chores, mucking out stables, brushing and grooming her pony, and hand scrubbing and polishing saddles and bridles until they gleam are just some of the activities Pia continually engages in throughout the course of the story. Janet Rising's message here is quite obvious.

Owning a horse or pony entails lots of dedication, effort and hard work. That's something those who already own a horse know and those who are thinking about it better fully understand before they make a commitment to such a major purchase.

There is already a second book in the works for this fledging series so those who enjoy following Pia's adventures can look forward to even more stable shenanigans in the near future!

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