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Blind Your Ponies

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  4,137 ratings  ·  757 reviews
Willow Creek, Montana. With bold strokes on a large canvas, Stanley West has drawn an entire village of curious and outlandish characters who have been cast so vividly that one can see them, hear them, laugh with them, feel with them - people as real as relatives.

When Sam Pickett comes to the quiet little village to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered hi
Paperback, 574 pages
Published December 3rd 2005 by Lexington Marshall Pub (first published January 10th 2001)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  4,137 ratings  ·  757 reviews

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Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blind Your Ponies is a remarkable book, a wonderful feat of storytelling which is becoming a lost art today it seems. Never would I have believed four days ago, even years ago, that I would love, much less read, a book about a small town basketball team. I have to admit it was a fluke that I picked this book up. There is something to be said about the free shelf at a small town library and being so sick one can't peruse shelves looking for something to read in bed. But the book Gods smiled upon ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of places like Willow Creek in the Western USA… small places, hardly meriting the word “town” kept going by any success that their farmers and ranchers can share with the “townspeople” who provide the dry goods, gasoline, schools and other essentials.

Willow Creek isn’t much of a place and we learn that its only notoriety is that its basketball team hasn’t won a game in over five years. It has been hard enough for Sam Pickett, teacher and coach, to get enough boys interested in pl
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Outside of basketball freaks, very few people ...
Wow, so none of the other reviewers noticed how appallingly badly writtten this book is? No one noticed the flat-out mispellings and at least six homonym errors? No one else was off-put by his laughable similes and purple prose? No one else smirked at how cardboard and overly melodramatic the characters are? No one else thought, "Jeez, this book is about 100 pages too long!"?

That said, I have to admit that, like everyone else, I WAS kinda drawn into the sappy plot--even though I was tempted to j
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mon-wyo, 2000s
This one was a favorite of the library staff. For me a multiple read. Rural Montana characters centered around high school basketball.

If you don't know the title's background, I suggest reading the books opening. (There is a Goodreads review that tells the title's origin.)

((Melissa wrote:
"Blind your ponies" is a phrase taken from a Crow Indian Legend where a last act of desperate bravery sent men to where they wanted to go, to be with who they most wanted to be with. This is just one of many sto
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a story that moves along relatively slowly much of the time, "Blind Your Ponies" really pulled me into the lives of the people of Willow Creek, MT. I found myself crying at the end.
Two underlying themes stood out: first, everyone has demons/burdens to deal with that few others are aware of; second, everyone is desperate to believe that there is hope for something better and that he/she is important and can make a difference in this life. I believe I will look differently at the people aroun
William Bentrim
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West

I don’t gush much in my writing. This is one of the best books I have ever read. How’s that for gushing? I am well read, several books a week for 60 years or so. That doesn’t make me an expert or a critic, I just “calls them the way I see them”. This book isn’t about ponies, or Montana and it isn’t just a “feel good” book that was disparagingly ascribed to it in one review. It is a book about the indomitable, unquenchable human spirit and revolves around a
This is a reread for me and once again, I completely lost my heart to this book. The title is taken from an old American Indian legend: A group of Crow warriors returning from a hunt finds that all of the inhabitants of their camp have died from typhoid. In the belief that they will join their loved ones in the afterlife, they blind their ponies and ride them off a cliff.

The book starts out with the line “Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young m
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
1/12/15 - 162 pages in.
This book is not well written; the author is overly fond of similes and metaphors and likes to stack them one atop another until the sentence is as long as a menacing freight train, bearing down threateningly, like a beady-eyed crow watching the meekest of mice, which scuttles and scrabbles in its attempts at brevity. (See, I can do it too! Barf.)

And why does the Norwegian kid talk like Yoda? ALL of his speech is that way. Has the author never heard a non-native English s
Nancy Martira
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember how I heard about this book, but I suspect if it hadn't been Kindle-lending enabled, I probably wouldn't have read it. I'm glad I did; this is a solid novel that at times you'll struggle to characterize as a sports novel, a romance, a character study of the American West. Well, I skimmed through some of the sports writing, and I found some of the romance overwrought, but the characters were compelling enough to keep me reading. Although everything ends predictably neat and tidy, ...more
Cathrine McLaren
Oct 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Oh my goodness! This was a book club selection for a newly formed book club, and I was absolutely stunned by the reviews and ratings after starting the book. Maybe it was just my personal sensibility but even though the story line was uplifting, the prose was awkward and the effort was so apparent and was distracting to the degree that I nearly gave up on this book. I trudged on, as did the author, to the improbable ending. Mr. West's use of often bizarre metaphor and simile was so unfortunate. ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'Blind Your Ponies,' by Stanley Gorden West is a story about an underdog basketball team in a small town in Montana called Willow Creek. It is a story about besting the demons that live inside most of us and fighting on regardless of the odds. I'm not a sports fan but West drew me into the story, making me care about each member of the team, the coach, and the townspeople who supported their team. Using basketball as an analogy for the battles we face in life, I was able to make the leap in thin ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thanks to a friend's recommendation, I picked this book up. What a wonderful underdog story. Small town Willow Creek- not much to root for or to be excited about it seems, till this year. With 2 new additions to their basketball team, they are giving the townspeople a purpose and a new outlook. We meet all these people and learn about them and how they came to Willow Creek. We become invested in these boys, who teach us to work hard and never give up. Their team has not won a game in 5 years- mu ...more
Jill Crosby
I am on page 257, and I am done with this awful book. Apart from being a dead-ringer for a Hallmark Channel miniseries, this baby crawls along at a glacial rate making the reader literally BEG for some kind of plot resolution. Even Tolstoy couldn't (and didn't) hold out on plot advancement as tenaciously as did this book, which couldn't for the life of it decide which metaphor it wanted to adopt--The Crow Indian reference to "blinding your ponies" in an attempt to display hopelessness, or the Do ...more
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved-loved
I loved this book. I listened to the audio version. I heard the written version is full of misspellings and horrific grammar, which would have bugged me more than I would probably like to admit. This was a feel-good, Cinderella type, root-for-the-underdogs book. I love it when a book is so much more than just a story. But really could there not have been a better title for this book. I mean really?!!!!

It plugged along quietly but vividly. I felt the author nailed human nature, both the good and
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My take: This one was a sleeper. Never saw it coming.

I was surprised this book was about a small town basketball team. Only it's really not. That's only the cover story. It's kind of like Hoosiers. Only it's not. It's really about heartbreak and heartache, pride and redemption, regret, humor, and most of all relationships and hope.

The characters and the town are completely believable and realistic. If you don't believe there's a school small enough to barely scare up a basketball team, you've n
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Montana or basketball.
Recommended to Nancygoodman by: Robyn Arguellas
I was particularly interested in reading this story because my grandsons play basketball in Ennis, Montana and compete against a team that is now Harrison/Willow Creek who are still 20 years afer the time of this amazing story, a very aggressive and competitive team and awesome opponent. I wanted to see what drives these six boys to succeed.

Stanley West did a beautiful job of developing the character of each of the basketball players and the coach, but went much further to develop the character
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mn-connection
"Blind your ponies" is a phrase taken from a Crow Indian Legend where a last act of desperate bravery sent men to where they wanted to go, to be with who they most wanted to be with. This is just one of many stories and messages that fill this deeply moving novel set in Willow Creek, Montana. You may have heard it's a story about basketball. It is. And it isn't at all. What you have is a microscope on the people of this extraordinary small town. At its focus is Sam Pickett, a high school English ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: coaches, basketball fans, supporters of youth and positive forces, underdogs
An unforgettable story! I appreciated it on many levels, especially the messages on overcoming loss and hardship, on living life like Grandma, and believing that good things do happen.
I agree with some that the book is long and maybe the writing wasn't always the best. But then again, the writing was, more-often-than-not, perfect. The metaphors felt true to the region and its people. The sports writing may not be for everyone, but having sat in a gym in similar circumstances, the writing had me
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It is a Hoosier basketball type story which I thought I wouldn't really "get into" but after reading the critiques from 2 of my friends, I relented. It is about a scruffy little team from Montana that hadn't won a game in years. The relationships between the coach, the players and the town's people were heart warming. I really thought the characters were very well defined and I found myself caring about them...all of them, which I usually don't do. It was a book that I didn't ...more
J.D. Palmer
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Boy, I lived and died with the young men of Willow Creek. The uncertainties of love, confidence in one's self and opening your doubts up for your friends to see, and how to deal with failure and loss... This book has so much heart and soul to it, the ending had me reeling.
I would give this five stars but I found some of the ancillary characters one dimensional; i.e. the drunk dad who doesn't show support. Also, since ninety percent of the story was written with a tender, almost delicate touch r
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it
If you have ever wanted a picture into life in southwestern Montana, this book captures our diverse county pretty accurately. It follows one rural high school's basketball team to the state finals. As a community, we are reading this book as we get ready to have our own Class C high school open next year. Five member basketball teams. Eight person football. The rules are different but everyone gets to play. ...more
Nicole Neal
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Love his descriptive writing, love his style, love his characters. You literally get to know the whole town of Willow Creek Montana. I found it difficult and almost impossible to put down and wished it wouldn't have ended even at 574 pages. ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it
The writing in this was not that great. Many spelling errors, and fairly cheesy. But it drew me in and I finished it.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Audiobook. At 19+ hours, this is a longer audio book than usual for me. The first half of the book, I rate a solid 5. Getting to know the quirky residents of Willow Creek was a pleasure. They are a bunch of underdogs and eager to have their moment in the sun. The second half of the book, I rate a solid 3. The play by play basketball games got a little tedious in audio (I'm not a basketball fan anyway) and the romance drew a few eye rolls from me. Overall, a good story, memorable characters, and ...more
Ms. B
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sports, 2019, adult, book_club
High school basketball in Montana. Meet the players and townsfolk in this story about a small town basketball team with only six players that can't give up. True basketball fans will love this book that gives play be play descriptions of games. ...more
Cynthia Prevedel
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
A bit too long for me and I knew how it was going to play out. However, I enjoyed the characters.
Feb 09, 2019 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I don't want to be that person in book club that didn't read the book... but I just can't finish this. It's so boring to me. I don't care about sports or heart warming cliches. I think it will be this way the whole way through. Life is short, there's so many other books that I want to read. ...more
Drew Danko
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
The only possible criticism is some might consider this book a bit sappy, but it felt good to me even if it was. I loved everything about the book. The plot revolves around a high school basketball team from a remote town in Montana. They are winless in 93 games and the town is as depressed as the players are. But changes occur that significantly impact the team, the town folk and the main character, their coach who has suffered a staggering loss earlier in his life and has continued to exist mo ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I am writing this from a little more than halfway through the book...

The ideas behind the book had some promise -- the focus on sadness, grief, and tragic circumstances, and how people relate to each other in their suffering and continue to hold onto hope despite these things. The teeny Montanan town this book is set in seems to represent both the physical and emotional hiding or escaping people do to get away from the bad events that have happened to them. And the ragtag high school basketball
Mattea Dean
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel, by Montana-based author Stanley Gordon West, tells the story of a small-town basketball team and their struggle for even the smallest victory. When a tall exchange student comes to town, coach Sam Pickett hopes to put the town on the map, while at the same time dealing with his feelings for a pretty faculty member at the high school.

Blind Your Ponies is wonderfully written, a true epic of small-town America. West manages to capture both the tragedies in the characters’ pasts as well
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Stanley Gordon West was born in 1932 and attended St. Paul Central High School in Minnesota. He lived in Bozeman, Montana for several years, and now resides in Shakopee, MN. All of his novels are popular book club selections: Blind Your Ponies, two other novels set in the same time and place as Until They Bring the Streetcars Back - Finding Laura Buggs and Growing an Inch - and his most recent, Sw ...more

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