When Jay moves from her home in England to live with her estranged father in rural New Zealand, it is only his promise of a pony of her own that convinces her to leave her old life behind and start over in a new country.
Change doesn’t come easily at first, and Jay makes as many enemies as she does friends before she finds the perfect pony, who seems destined to make her dreams of show jumping success come true.
But she soon discovers that training her own pony is not as easy as she thought it would be, and her dream pony is becoming increasingly unmanageable and difficult to ride.
Can Jay pull it together, or has she made the biggest mistake of her life?
Kate lives in Waikanae, New Zealand, and has ridden horses since the age of 10. After several years competing as a teenager, she went on to work with horses in England, Ireland and the United States, as well as various horse jobs in New Zealand.
Kate's published works include the Dare to Dream series, the Clearwater Bay series, and the new Pony Jumpers series. All of her books tie into one another, so there is always a familiar face in whichever book you decide to read next. Find out more on her website at http://nzponywriter.com
I liked this a lot despite it dragging between middle and end somewhat with the endless descriptions of show jumping competitions (but hats off to Lattey, her writing style kept me reading through them rather than skipping pages, which is quite an achievement) and despite some very questionable details around Jay's characterisation as a 'Brit'. (For the record: British girls are seldom prissy and pretty much all utterly used to rubbish Victorian plumbing where the water suddenly runs cold and 99% of British yards look more like the Harrisons than the McLeods.) I can highly recommend this to all out there who like a good show jumping teen book with the emphasis on the jumping rather than the teen drama.
It took me several chapters to get into the story, but I am happy I did. Some of the language was different than what I am used to, which made me pay attention. The slang bogged me down, but after awhile it became more familiar and easier to read. Towards the end of the book the characters were fully developed and it felt like I was living life with them. I found myself vested in the story and I couldn't wait to see what happened next. I love a good ending and this one doesn't disappoint.
I've enjoyed reading Flying Changes, about a girl whose life changes drastically. Jay grew up in England. Her mum has died so she goes to New Zealand to live with the father she has not seen since she was four - she's now fourteen. The bribe to get her here was the promise of a pony of her own.
The first half of the book is occupied with Jay getting used to the wild, open countryside, the beach and the people, her gruff father included. Cooking and housekeeping are not his strong points. Well, there had to be a reason why the family broke up. Jay meets nice kids locally and rather less pleasant ones, all covering distance on their ponies, attending the same school and mucking about with little or no supervision. The nearest families invite Jay to ride with them and she goes on a quest to find her own pony.
Managing to buy a neglected mare within her meagre budget, Jay knows she is on something good and spends the next half of the story schooling, competing far too early, falling off and generally making a hash of things with her green mare because she is a novice rider. It's easy to look back when you've done it all and see the mistakes. Jay isn't even sure she's staying, given that fathers in this area appear to be horrible brutes, and everyone knows everyone so she doesn't feel she belongs.
To me the tale had a strong feeling of My Friend Flicka crossed with Dare To Dream, Kate Lattey's great next story about pony trading sisters. Kids see ponies as something to buy, improve and trade on, or else something to brag about winnings with, while few are determined to keep a pony forever. Amazingly a week off school is given for the Horse of The Year Show. A family with too many ponies, having picked them up cheap for various faults, doesn't bother brushing them or cleaning tack.
The total lack of discipline really did annoy me as I read, because many times over, at home, hacking or at shows, the kids do something that would perhaps get a rider or pony killed. I wanted to put a big notice across the text - Warning, this is not behaviour to imitate. Nor does it occur to anyone to place a pole on the ground one stride before a crosspole which is followed by a bounce to take-off over a fence. This discipline trains both horse and rider to pick a stride and take-off point and gets the horse to use its neck, back and hind legs in full engagement. I wondered why none of them read a book on jumping, just doing a hit and miss approach or going to a Pony Club rally which turned out to be all about dressage. So I can't give five stars, as the adventures might get a copycat rider hurt, much as I enjoyed the tale.
Argh! I seriously wish I had discovered Kate Lattey like 5 years from now - I've now read all she has out so far and am going to go crazy waiting for the next! The Clearwater bay series is aimed a bit younger than the 2 Dream books, but that doesn't make it any less of an awesome read. She's excellent with characters - especially w/ YA I usually find that the main character has something that REALLY annoys me, but so far that has happened with Lattey's books. And her horses are as well-developed as characters as the people, which I appreciate. Cannot wait for the next one.
I wonder how my pony-riding teens would have been different if I'd had New Zealand pony stories like this to read. All those English pony stories were fantastic, but not "our" stories, our scenery, our approach to life, our people. Somehow those English stories made me think something wasn't quite right about the way we did things - we hunted hares, not foxes!
I loved this book! I worried for Jay, for Finn, for Alec and hoped they'd be OK in the end. Kate Lattey created some fantastic characters - people and ponies - and a great setting. I cried near the end, as I was so involved in the story - surely a sign the author has done a wonderful job of story-telling. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I wasn't too hung up in the details of what the kids did - most of my teenage riding was unsupervised too, yet my ponies and I were fine. I love the sense of adventure and confidence displayed by Kate Lattey's characterset, even though I would never be that brave myself to ride such a full-on pony.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series. How I wish I'd found Kate Lattey's books ages ago, but at least I've got a whole lot to look forward to reading!