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Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby

by Sharon Kay Roberts; Publish America. Soft Cover, 2009, RRP $US20. ISBN: 1-60838-275-2.

November 24, 2010

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

What am I doing? I've never jumped a horse before! I don't know what to do. What if he refuses and I fall off. I don't have a hard hat on. No! Mustn't think that way. Jessie says throw your heart over the jump and the horse will follow. ~ Sharon Roberts

This engaging book is unusual in the world of teen horse fiction, since 14-year-old Caitlin is not horse-addicted nor does she even have any interest in them. She has devoted her life to figure skating in the hope of capturing Olympic Gold. After a deadly car accident in which her father is killed and her own leg amputated below the knee, Cat begins her road to recovery. When her doctor suggests equine-assisted therapy, Cat initially shrugs it off as a waste of time.

Cat's attitude shifts, as she spends more time with the horses, learning to groom and ride. Jumping becomes her dream, one that is far too ambitious from her mother's point of view. Cat is spirited and determined to prove herself, yet keenly disappointed over her first attempts in the show ring.

When an abused pinto arrives at the stable, Cat is drawn to him and sets out to win his trust. Toby has natural athletic ability, but he is also challenging to handle. Cat struggles with doubt, yet she believes in Toby. Together, they develop the skills to attempt Cat's goal of competitive jumping.

Olympic Gold for Cat and Toby is skillfully written and flows easily with a strong pace. Schooling and show sessions are highly realistic - the rider's body gets sore and falls do happen. Teen and adult readers alike will find a lifetime of inspiration in this story, where difficult obstacles, both literal and figurative, are overcome, and a young girl's personal dreams realized.



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