Thirteen-year-old Jordan McKenzie loves draft horses gentle giants, as they re known in the horse industry. Her favorite is the sweet, dependable Black Percheron, and she hopes that her mom will let her have one someday. But considering they don’t own even one animal on the small farm they rent in their new southern Michigan town, that seems very unlikely. Jordan’s fortunes change at a local livestock auction. With the help of a Mennonite boy, Jacob Yoder, she and her mom bid on a draft mare who is in danger of being sold to a slaughterhouse. She’s thrilled to become the proud owner of a large, two-thousand-pound draft horse named Star Gazer. But Jordan’s joy is short-lived when she learns that her new horse, once the winner of many log pulling contests, is lame and depressed due to years of neglect. Furious, Jordan vows to beat Star Gazer s former owner in the state pulling contest at the end of the summer but can she get Star Gazer s health and confidence back?
Thirteen-year-old Lily O Neil’s passion is Arabian horses. Someday she wants to be a great endurance rider like her mother. But a year earlier, when a freak riding accident took her mother’s life, Lily’s father sold Lily’s beloved pony and forbid her to ride ever again. When Lily’s grandmother comes to live with them, however, she convinces Mr. O’Neil to let Lily clean stalls on the neighboring Arabian ranch. Lily’s mother had worked there as an exercise
Lily is ecstatic, especially since she ll be near her mother s favorite horse, Astra. Lily’s mother believed that Astra had the talent to become a national champion. Her goal was to ride her in the famous Tevis Cup Endurance Race, the toughest horse race in America. Lily is determined to fulfill her mother’s dream. But how will she convince her father to let her ride again?
For thirteen-year-old Jessie, living with her family on the dusty Wild Hawk Ranch in Nevada can be a bit lonely. Her friend Marybeth lives a few miles away, but she’s two years younger than Jessie and she can sometimes be a pest.
But Jessie loves the horses her father and brother break in each summer to sell to local ranchers and rodeo competitors. This year, she is determined to help train the horses, especially when she lays eyes on the wild, paint filly she names Storm Chaser. When Jessie’s father tells her she is still too young to help with the horses, she deliberately disobeys him by working with the filly behind his back.
THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD CALLIE lives on a small organic farm on the edge of the Nevada desert. Besides spending time with her best friend, Billie, Callie loves to watch a special herd of wild mustangs as they roam–sometimes playing, sometimes even battling, but always magnificent. The horse she calls Cloud Dancer and his pregnant mare Moonbeam are her favorites.
But not everyone loves the wild horses. Wealthy area ranchers complain that the herds are overpopulated and in one of the Bureau of Land Management’s periodic round ups, Moonbeam is seized. When the mare dies shortly after giving birth prematurely, Callie devotes herself to caring for Moon Shadow, the orphaned filly. It’s touch-and-go as to whether the little mustang will even survive. But if by some miracle Moon Shadow does make it, Callie wonders, will she be able to convince her parents to let her adopt the beloved horse? Worse still, how will she find the money to buy her?
Thanks to the faith and hard work of Katie Durham, Willow King no longer has badly twisted legs. After painstaking training, the colt has gained the strength to compete in major races–and Katie is determined to prove he’s a champion. Unfortunately, her new ambition presents her with the most nerve-racking challenge of her life:earning a jockey’s license and riding Willow King in the Kentucky Derby. This inspiring story, a sequel to the author’s award-winning first novel, is based on her real experiences as a jockey, groom, and assistant horse trainer.
When prizewinning Thoroughbred Grey Dancer’s foal is born with its legs too crooked to race, Mr. Ellis, the owner of Willow Run Farm, orders him destroyed. But thirteen-year-old Katie Durham, who works in the stalls and has a disability of her own, can’t bear to let this happen. She thinks the young colt is the most beautiful she’s ever seen, so she comes up with a plan to save him.
Katie knows that owning a winning racehorse could change her life and prevent her and her mom from losing their floundering farm. Trading her prize horse Jester to the obnoxious Cindy Ellis in exchange for the colt, Katie takes the newborn Willow King to a remote pasture and begins training him in secret.
With the help of Jason Roberts, the boy next door who insists on being nice to her even when she throws pinecones at his head and steps on his feet, Katie and Willow King begin a journey that takes them through near-fatal injuries and relentless sabotage, and eventually leads them to the gates of the Portland Downs Futurity. With so much at stake, can King and Katie win the race and earn a spot in the prestigious Kentucky Derby?
Inspired by the experiences of a real championship race horse, this moving story celebrates the power of caring.