Horses are at the core of Sammy’s life. As part of a Traveller family whose dad trains and races trotters, he is looking forward to owning his own horse. So when their mare gives birth to a dead foal, he is heartbroken. To cheer him up, his dad suggests that they visit the forthcoming Appleby fair. Maybe there they will find a suitable horse for him. Sammy invites Billy his best mate along to the fair, bustling with horses and fellow Travellers. He finds his perfect horse, but, after he and Billy have made enemies, it’s suddenly unavailable to him. As consolation, Dad insists on buying a bedraggled young filly, sure that she has potential, but Sammy has no interest. It is only when they take the filly home, feed her up and start to train her that Sammy understands that his father may be right after all.
The story moves at a leisurely pace. There’s little suspense or conflict. But it is satisfying and also, informative. It’s a real ‘horsey’ book in the best sense of the word, with the author’s obvious love and knowledge of horses permeating the writing. It also provides an insight into the ways of Travellers, their everyday lives and interests – and the prejudices they experience. Realistic and beautifully executed pencil drawings capturing individual expressions and postures of both characters and horses add a great deal to the narrative.