In the preface of Smoky The Cowhorse winner of the sixth newbery medal, Will James writes, "The horse is not appreciated and never will be appreciated enough,-few humans, even them that works him, really know him, but there is so much to know about him."
After reading this book you can obviously tell that the author does know horses and really does appreciate them.
This story is about one horse in particular named Smoky, and the story of his life. Set in the early twentieth century in the Northwestern United States, this book really captures the way of life for the american cowboy, and the authors descriptions of things are really good and detailed.
Smoky starts his life being born on a nice spring day and for the first four years of his life he is free to roam the land doing whatever he pleases. His freedom of roaming the land comes to an end for a while when he meets the human. He is broke and trained by a cowboy named Clint and from the moment he first set eyes on that mouse colored horse he knew that he wanted him and would do almost anything to have him.
Smoky makes friend with Clint and they have many years of happines as Smoky works as a Cowhorse on the rocking R ranch. One winter after being set free on the range smoky is stolen.
Things go from bad to worse for the horse. He is mistreated so badly that he hates every human. He is whipped, spurred, beaten, and starved. The descriptions on how the horse feels and thinks are really good, and you feel a sadness for the horse as you read it. The horses heart and spirit are broken and the horse really does not care about anything anymore. He just goes along with it.
Smoky eventually becomes an unbeatable outlaw rodeo horse where no cowboy is able to beat him. After many years bucking his body gives out then he is sold as a saddle horse, and finally a plow horse.
He was driven very hard and almost to the point of death when he is found and rescued.
The author had really strong feelings for the treatment and proper handling and care of horses. The book does not name many characters and you get the impression that the horse is worth way more than the cruel people that abuse him.
This book is a real page turner. It was great for me cause I have never been around horses and it was intersting to get an introduction to what they are like. I think that anyone that likes horses or any other animal would really like this book. It exceeded the expectations that I had