Show Strides Book Series: Published by The Plaid Horse
Read Show Strides! Our Very Own Series of Horse Novels
Show Strides is a middle grade novel series about riding, showing, horsemanship, and the special friendships we form with our animals and fellow horse lovers. Set on the sprawling grounds of a large hunter jumper barn, the series features a diverse range of characters, from the lesson kid to the A-rated show regular, and everyone in between. While the reading level is appropriate for young riders, the series has fans of all ages!
Show Strides is written by The Plaid Horse publisher, Piper Klemm, and Rennie Dyball, an author, equestrian, and editorial manager for The Plaid Horse.
Show Strides is a proud member of The Bookstore for Horse Lovers. Click here to learn more.
Book 1: School Horses & Show Ponies
Meet the riders of Quince Oaks: Tally is a dedicated working student who takes lessons on the stable’s fleet of school horses, and Mac is pushing herself to improve on her own pony hunter. The girls become fast friends as Tally learns the ropes of catch riding and showing while Mac discovers that moving up a division isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. Together, and with the help of their trainer and barn friends, both riders will chase their dreams on horseback—one stride at a time.
Book #1 is available now. You can read the first chapter here on The Plaid HorseBuy book one on Amazon.
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Excerpts from the Book
“Don’t forget to label those,” her dad said, nodding at the white and pink rosettes. Tally had actually been considering just throwing them out.
“Why? This isn’t exactly a show I want to remember.”
“I’ve told you this before, Tal. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. And you know I think you should label the back of every ribbon. You’ll look back at them one day and be happy you did.”
“Pick up your canter and then establish the pace you want. Ring speed. Get that canter and keep her there. We’ll work on finessing it, but for now, I just want you to get that number, so cowboy-kick if you have to.”
As they approached the first rail, Tally felt like they were flying. Almost as if they were going too fast.
“That’s the pace, Tal, don’t change it. Now jump in and count.”
The next morning, Tally’s alarm went off at 6 a.m. and she flew out of bed, having been awake for at least an hour already. This was it. An away show. An A-rated show. Just like she’d watched Mac do and wished to be a part of herself someday. And she was already getting to do it.
Book 2: Confidence Comeback
Tally Hart just went to her first A-rated show with the new trainer at her barn, Quince Oaks—and it was a competition she’ll never forget. But back at home, the working student and newly-minted catch rider faces an uncertain future. Will she get to keep riding sales ponies? Go back to lessons on the barn’s school horses? Meanwhile, her good friend Mac Bennett is finding her own footing in the medium pony hunter division and working toward the biggest show goal either rider could imagine.
Book #2 is available now. You can read the first chapter here on The Plaid Horse.Buy book two on Amazon.
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Excerpts from the Book
He gave her a thumbs-up before asking her to start trotting around, working on some circles with the pony as he finished setting jumps. For the flatwork part of their lesson, Tally worked on lengthening and shortening Goose’s stride at the trot and canter. It took a lot of leg to keep him moving in the gait that she wanted while maintaining the collection. The answer to most questions while riding, it seemed, was to add leg.
“Oh my gosh, Goose, you are gorgeous!” Tally whispered. The pony perked his ears and took a couple of tentative steps toward her. He was a dark dapple gray—gray horses and ponies got lighter in color as they aged; Goose was obviously quite young, with a neatly pulled, silvery mane and the most adorable dished face. He had a pink muzzle and looked cozy in his plaid blanket. Meeting him reminded Tally of opening model horses on Christmas morning and marveling over just how perfect they looked.
“Outside, diagonal, outside, single. Go!” Mac said, taking off at the human version of the canter toward the first jump. Tally followed her, laughing as they counted their own strides down what would be a five-stride line for horses. Mac got twelve and Tally got eleven.
“Don’t cut your turn!” Mac yelled as Tally cantered ahead of her down the short side of the ring toward their next line.
“If I stay out, this … will take all day,” Tally shouted back between gulps of air, her stomach muscles tight from the effort and from laughing. They lost count down the diagonal line and Tally broke to a trot in front of the outside line, breathing hard.
“Automatic 55!” Mac shouted as the girls bumbled down their last jumps.
Panting and still laughing at the end of their course, Tally and Mac ambled out of the ring and down to the barn, fishing change out of their pockets for the soda machine.
Book 3: Moving Up & Moving On
After a successful trip to Devon, the Field Ridge team returns home to Oaks for the summer, where life at the barn is as busy as ever.
A jumper rider named Jacob and his horse Carlo begin trailering in for lessons with trainer Ryan, and the girls learn that being a boy in the sport has its own unique challenges.
Tally and Goose are improving with each show, and Mac struggles with body confidence as they head toward their big summer finale, Pony Finals.
Book #3 is available now. You can read the first chapter here on The Plaid Horse.Buy book three on Amazon.
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Excerpts from the Book
Tally watched as Jacob slowed Carlo to a trot and then a walk, the little bay gelding holding his head high and proud. Jacob glanced around the ring, turning to say something to Ryan, and the buzzer sounded again.
“What’s he doing?” Tally asked.
“The jump-off,” Mac said.
“Wait! He has to jump the first course and then the jump-off right after it? Like, remembering them both at the same time?” Tally could hardly believe it. She’d never stress about memorizing a medal course again.”
“Let’s watch a few of the larges go,” Ryan said, gesturing for the girls to follow him to where the Large Pony over fences class was underway in the Walnut ring.
The ring was a vast expanse of fancy-looking show jumps, greenery, and long stretches of, well, nothing. Tally watched the pony on course cantering down a bending line and balking at something he saw. There was no shortage of sights for a pony to spook at in this ring.
“You must be in here for a full five minutes to get over all the jumps,” she whispered to Mac.
Tally steered G to the diagonal line, closing her fingers on the reins when he got a little strong, backing it up with her leg so he wouldn’t break to the trot. He came back to her, jumping in quietly. Tally opened his stride just a bit to the oxer in order to get the correct number of strides. It almost felt invisible. Landing off the diagonal, G leaned to the inside, and Tally felt her mental chatter starting up again, but when she shifted her weight to the outside and redirected G off his forehand, he got a nice, clean change. They cantered the outside line, coming home like they’d both been showing in big indoors their whole lives.
Book 4: Testing Friendships
As an eventful summer draws to a close, the Oaks riders focus on their goals for the fall. Tally gets the ride on her first project horse, Mac looks to build on her success from Pony Finals, and newcomer Maggie joins Ryan’s Field Ridge team as she looks for a horse or pony of her own. But one moment of carelessness in the ring will change everything for all three girls.
Book #4 is available now!Buy book four on Amazon.
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Excerpts from the Book
When Tally was little, her parents had a cat named Frankie who liked to watch everything Tally did. And when he was in the mood, he’d rub his head on her leg and relish whatever pets and cuddles she’d give him. Obie immediately reminded her of that cat.
All three sets of cross ties were occupied, so Tally got started grooming Obie in his stall. As she worked some mud out of his right front hoof with her hoof pick, Obie rested his chin gently on her back. Instantly, Tally was reminded of Goose doing the same thing. It had startled her the first time he did it, but with Obie it felt like a sweet, familiar gesture. She took her time picking out Obie’s right front hoof, enjoying the closeness of the horse’s company.
Not knowing whether this new horse would enjoy a good curry, Tally selected her softer grooming gloves and went over Obie’s coat slowly to start. He barely blinked as she did, so she applied more pressure and he turned to watch her again. There was something so kind and gentle in his expression.
“I’m riding Obie, the new project horse that Ryan brought in,” Tally said, falling in step next to Maggie and Mac. “We’re getting him back in shape after being turned out for a few months. He was a schoolie at another barn but it wasn’t the right job for him. We’re trying to figure out what would be a better fit.”
“Tally, you are so cool,” Maggie said as they reached the wash stalls.
“What do you mean?”
“She means you just get on anything and you ride them all so well,” Mac said. Maggie nodded. “I want to ride like that,” added Mac. Tally felt her face turn several shades of red. She’d admired Mac’s riding since the day they met. It was one of the nicest compliments she’d ever received.
Maggie entered the ring and Ryan stepped up to the in-gate and crossed his arms—his usual in-gate pose, Tally noticed.
Maggie was a little slow to the first jump. “Come on, come on, stop pulling,” Tally heard Ryan say softly. “Pick it up,” he said a little louder as Maggie approached the in-gate before turning toward the judge’s line. “Relax your elbows and let him canter on.”
Maggie and Joey jumped the judge’s line much better than the first jump and by the time they turned for the diagonal line, Joey was fully in show mode, flowing down the seven strides. They turned for the last line.
“Good, Maggie, just keep that canter,” Ryan said as they passed by again.
They jumped the outside line well and turned for the final oxer. It was a bit of a chip, but nothing terrible, and when they cantered their closing circle, you could see Maggie’s smile from two rings over.
Book 5: Packer Pressure
It’s a time for new beginnings at Quince Oaks. Tally gets noticed for her hard work and catch-riding, landing her a free lease on a packer named Cameron. Elsewhere in the barn, Tally's best friend Mac is surprised by the transition from Joey to a new partner for the Large Pony Hunters, and Maggie’s parents buy her a horse of her own. But once Tally and Maggie get into the show ring, they find unexpected struggles. Tally has to deal with the stress of competing on the “perfect packer,” while Maggie’s move to a more sensitive, tricky horse makes her question her ability—and her place within the barn.
Excerpts from the Book
“Cameron? Like the Cameron? The barn favorite who wins everything and everyone loves?”
“Yup,” said Tally, laughing at her friend’s wide-eyed expression
“Tally, this is huge!” said Mac, wrapping her friend up in a hug. Mac’s pony, Joey, nudged the girls with his nose, eager to get in on the celebration.
“I know,” said Tally, bending down to unwrap one of Joey’s polos alongside her friend. “I’ve never ridden a horse this experienced. It’s going to be weird!”
“It’s going to be awesome,” Mac corrected her.
Mackenzie (Mac) Bennett was Tally’s best friend at the barn. At this point, probably her best friend, period. Mac had arrived about a year ago with Joey, a.k.a. Smoke Hill Jet Set, her partner in the Medium Pony Hunter division. When the girls first met, Tally knew next to nothing about the A circuit, having ridden only in the lesson program and at the barn’s in-house schooling shows. Now, Tally had competed several times at rated shows off the property, spectated at Devon and Pony Finals, and spent many sleepovers with Mac watching live streams and replays of the biggest shows in the country. There was nothing she loved more than immersing herself in the world of horses and showing.
Learn More About the Books
Rennie Dyball comes on the Plaidcast to talk with Piper Klemm about writing the series Show Strides.
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