And We Danced - young adult action/adventure sports by Toni Mari

Don't be fooled by the horse on the cover. This book is about more than a girl and her horse. Jane has a dream, and like many young people, when she closes her eyes, she imagines fame and fortune after riding her new horse in international competition. Great dressage riders don't get discovered overnight, though, and Jane's new horse may have more fire and talent than she can handle.

One thing after another goes wrong when Jane brings Windsong home. I wanted to show the unique relationship that must be developed with a horse. They are strong, powerful, emotional animals whose sensitive nature requires time and dedication to train. If you like horses and animals, and especially if you already have a relationship with a pet, Windsong will warm your heart. This book is an action packed page turner, so even if you aren't sure you would like to read about a dressage rider, try the sample, you may be surprised how interesting Windsong's character really is.

And speaking of interesting, There's Cory Banks. Typically, dressage riders are formal minded and the relaxed way of western cowboy types horrify their sense of the order of things. I mean, really, sequins and brightly colored outfits that are so brilliant they can be seen in outerspace? A dressage rider steps up onto their meticulously cleaned saddle and horse wearing what amounts to a black and white tuxedo. Jane and Cory are opposites in many, ways including their family backgrounds. Windsong challenges them both to overcome their differences; Jane, because she wants to qualify for the team; and Cory, because he puts the welfare of the horse before all else. There could be a romance, if the two teens can overcome their own preconceptions.

Everyone who has played sports or cheered for a sports team, local or professional, knows how riveting a competition can be. One play, one moment, one score can make or break the success of the athlete. You'll discover the thrill of competition in this book. No matter what sport you love, I wanted to portray the competitive drive, why do athletes work so hard just to win a game? Will Jane discover that drive? Can she be successful without it?

This is the first book in a series of three. As sports fans know, every game leads to regionals, and then to nationals, and then to world competiton. And if you don't make the cut this year, you practice in the off season and try again next year. Jane learns new levels of dressage and continues her journey toward her dream of becoming a top ranking dressage rider in the next books.

Good luck at your next competition! I'll be slaving away training for horseshows and writing about the thrills and spills. Toni Mari