Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart

Summary: Who says teammates have to be friends?

When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she's in trouble. She's not exactly welcomed with open arms. One group of girls in particular is used to being the best, the brightest, and the prettiest on the team, and when Sasha shows her skills in the arena, the girls' claws come out.

Sasha is determined to prove that she belongs at Canterwood. Will she rise to the occasion and make the advanced riding team by the end of her first semester? Or will the pressure send Sasha packing?

My Review: I spent most of my time growing up with horses. Riding lessons, riding camp, horse-related volunteer work, playing horses, writing horsefic, dreaming up my future stable complex, dreaming about riding college, showing, watching shows, learning dressage terms...yeah. I was never a Pony Clubber -- we didn't have that kind of money -- but I learned everything I could about riding. I read all horsey books and series I could get my hands on: the Thoroughbred series, the Black Stallion books, anything that had Marguerite Henry's name on it (even Brighty! but Stormy was was my favorite), and Bonnie Bryant's The Saddle Club until I outgrew it. But not many of those stories was as real to the riding world as Take the Reins.

No kidding. Burkhart's Canterwood Crest is solid -- from how girls relate to their horses, to the actual riding and safety stuff that's easily integrated into the story. This is exactly the kind of book I'd have liked to read at that age, because it teaches gently and the riding technique is important to the story. It's also very realistic -- I spent so many days from the ages 7 to 17 at barns and with other riders, that I could almost smell sweet feed and hear the old Coke machine running in our admin office!

I'm really happy about this series. Definitely the books I want to have on my shelf to share with all the horse-loving kids I know!

Also, check out the uber-cool Canterwood Crest web site!

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