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Winnie the Early Years – Horse Gentler in Training Review by Renita Kuehner

Dandi Daley Mackall
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL60188

Lydia loves to read any books that deal in some way with horses. She was excited to review the latest series from Dandi Daley Mackall, Winnie The Early Years – Book 1 Horse Gentler in Training.

Winnie The Early Years – Book 1 Horse Gentler in Training is the first book in the easy to read chapter book series based on the Winnie the Horse Gentler chapter book series for older readers. It is a Christian based fiction series that gives readers a look at Winnie at a younger age, and more insight on her early years as she is learning from her mother the important skill of gentle training horses and not just breaking them. There is an older series on Winnie – The Horse Gentler.

In this story from Book 1 – Horse Gentler in Training, Winnie’s family is facing a challenging time. Their ranch is facing difficult financial times. They are not sure how they will be able to pay the bills, so the parents are facing the possibility of losing their ranch and home. Their main hope at the time is a new horse that Winnie’s mom is to be training. This thoroughbred horse though is owned by a very prominent and snobbish family in town. Winnie goes to school with the son who “owns” the horse, Princess. Austin is very impatient and wants to ride his expensive and fancy horse right away. He thinks that he is above doing the general barn chores and care of his new horse. He only wants to ride and not in the way that Winnie and her family feel is important in training horses gently.

Winnie tries so hard to help her mom gentle train Princess. She knows that their family is facing the loss of their ranch without the money that is coming in from Austin’s family. She also loves Princess and does not want to see her hurt in anyway by the training methods that could be used at the other ranch where Austin’s father was threatening to take Princess. Even though Winnie’s parents were openly relying on God for his guidance in their problems and even the training of Princess, Winnie wants to help and prove that she is a Horse Gentler just like her mother. Unfortunately, Winnie is hurt while trying. She is not allowed to ride now due to her injury. Will she be able to help with Princess? Does the family lose their ranch?

This is a cute story about the love of horses. An even more important lesson in the story is that we need to put our trust in God when we are facing tough times. It seems like such an unusual way to present this topic. But what better way for kids to learn, but by example. As your child reads the dilemmas that Winnie is facing, they can see how she and her family are relying on God in both heavier ways and even in something as simple as horse training. What a wonderful way to show that we can rely on God in all aspects of our lives!

At the end of the story, the author has included facts on various breeds of horses, a dictionary of horse terminology, horse facts and an anatomy picture also. She even shares a short personal story about her own experience with her horse, Misty.

The age/reading level for Winnie The Early Years – Horse Gentler in Training is for Grades 2-3, early chapter books. It has been a wonderful series, and Lydia has advanced up to the older Winnie series books. I highly recommend this series for any horse-loving child.

-Product review by Renita Kuehner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2019