Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Buying Links: Amazon*
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Blurb from goodreads:
Try as they might, the trainers could not get Ivory Pal to comply with the "traditional" Tennessee Walking Horse training techniques. The beautiful palomino colt had completely given up, shut down, relegated to a box stall 24/7, until he met his new partner Rafael Valle. His fate was about to take a U-turn. A heartwarming true story of a "show horse reject", his trials and triumphs, and his relationship with Valle built on trust and mutual respect rather than on fear and intimidation.
I have always loved horses and reading horse stories. When I saw this was available for review, I immediately requested it. As a child and teen, I sometimes attended horse shows with a friend of mine who showed her Quarter Horse mare. I remember being horrified upon learning about some of the tricks that trainers and owners used to show their uses. In "Ivory Pal" we meet a horse and his owner/trainer who refused to comply with those hurtful methods and still went on to win blue ribbons and championships.
Ivory Pal was owned for the first few years of his life by an owner who believed in these hurtful methods. Pal was confined to his stall except for when he was let out for training and in return he refused to obey and to perform. Then Rafael Valle came along and bought him. He was looking for a trail horse, not a show horse, and he believed in treating animals respectfully and listening to them. Slowly he gained Pal's trust and respect and he worked on bringing Pal back to full-strength and condition. Pal was a gentle, calm, steady horse with flashy good looks and soon he was the talk of the neighborhood. Eventually, Rafael gave in to urgings from friends and peers and entered Pal in a show. Soon, they were winning blue ribbons despite their lack of "traditional" trainings and tricks.
"Ivory Pal" is a easy, quick read that's inspirational and feel-good. There's a fair amount of repetition of information, especially in the quotes from Pal's fans and admirers. I also would have liked more information about how Rafael trained Pal other than the vague "I was respectful and we played and if he didn't want to do something, then he didn't." My galley lacked the photos that are supposed to be in the book; there are boxes where the images should be and captions but no images. It was disappointing. I assume the final copy doesn't have this issue.
Still, the message of respect and kindness towards animals and partnering with them instead of dominating them is a good one and McCauley explains it well. If you love animal stories, especially ones with happy endings, pick up this one.