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Blind Your Ponies

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,064 Ratings  ·  613 Reviews
This book spreads its energy and passion with very little help. Introduce it to your readers and they'll turn a brushfire into a firestorm. Fueled by characters they don't want to leave and a story they don't want to end, readers have overwhelmingly acclaimed this contemporary Montana novel.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Algonquin Books (first published January 10th 2001)
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Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
May 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jill Crosby
Jun 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Cathrine McLaren
Oct 19, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nicole Neal
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this was not that great. Many spelling errors, and fairly cheesy. But it drew me in and I finished it.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Libby Chester
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'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 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have read in ten years. It is set in Willow Creek, Montana, which is a real place, but the rest of the story is fiction.

The book opens violently. Read past that part. It continues to be slow for the first 100 pages due to the fact that there is a long exposition to introduce all of the characters and give the background of the social situation and dynamics of the characters in Willow Creek.

The plot line follows the year of an improbable basketball season with im
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montana will always have a special place in my heart and this novel now does as well. Based around the happenings of a small town in Montana, this novel brings to life the unique community and relationships between individuals that can only be found in a one-horse-town. The story revolves around a young teacher who coaches the school's boys basketball team...a noble endeavor since the team has not had a winning season in decades. Through the course of the season, you are given and amazing insigh ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
I tried. Made it 125 pages before I put it down. If only it wasn't 400 pages I might have stuck with it to see if the writing got any better.

The basketball writing was uneven with some games being intensely documented while others constituted a few paragraphs. Characters were interesting but a bit cliche for a book about a small town. I couldn't help but feel I'd read this story before.

Lastly, the budding romance between Sam and Diane was painful to read. Some of the lines he wrote for their st
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author was clearly in love with the sound of his own voice and this book needed a serious edit. It's a 530+ page book that could have been 200, easily. The language is overblown, the similes are forced and I don't know any young kids who speak the way these characters do. The only characters that cursed were those who were negatively portrayed (aka "bad people"). I mean, come on. And the dialogue between Sam and Diana was WAY too flowery and stiff.

The book takes place in 1990-91, yet the ch
Terry Perrel
Stanley Gordon West self-published this novel, and it sold 40,000 copies. This is the version I read. It's a feel-good Rocky/Hoosiers kind of story with more characters and troubles. The story, although dragged down by overwriting and telling and too many metaphors that call attention to themselves, is compelling. This month Algonquin re-released the novel, hopefully edited down by 100 pages. If so, it should be a much better read. Still, kudos to West and his story-telling and all that he accom ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story. If you are froma small town, you will definitely relate to this book. You really get to know the characters and feel like they are sitting in the room with you as you are reading.
Alexandra Martella
Feb 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skipped
Couldn't finish - surprised at all the good reviews. Corny (think Hallmark movie) -not well written, in my opinion, with so many horrible metaphors and similes and just dragged on and on...... a weird obsession with describing peoples bodies over and over again too. Ugh.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I put off reading this book. I thought I wasn't interested in a long book about a small Montana towns basketball team. I loved every minute of the book. I was completely swept away by the town and it's people.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did really like this book. It just became a bit to predictable and long. The storyline and characters are great though.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wish I could have rated this book 4.5 stars! The novel Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West is set in the tiny community of Willow Springs, Montana. The total number of students in the high school is 18. The basketball team has lost 93 games with 0 wins at the beginning of the story. However, a Norwegan foreign-exchange 6'11" student named Olaf Gustafson who comes to Willow Creek for his senior year of high school and another student, Peter Strong, who has been sent to Willow Creek for the y ...more
Laura de Leon
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, nook
I asked for suggestions for a book to read at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and having trouble getting into anything. Many books were put forth, several of which had been on my "to read" list for quite a while. None of those called to me, and instead I picked up this new-to-me title. It turned out to be a very good choice.

Blind Your Ponies is a tale of a small town. Almost everyone there has a big story. The adults are almost all there as a reaction to their past. These stories have an
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. It wasn't the best written book I have ever read but the story was so touching and emotionally charged. Having grown up with two brother's who played basketball in a small school, and having dabbled in the sport myself, I enjoyed and appreciated the game scenes, the hard practice and creative training sessions, and wonderful small town fans and interesting personalities of Willow Creek, Montana. All this on top of the feel-good, Cinderella storyline itself. The Willow C ...more
Drew Danko
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
More about Stanley Gordon West...
“Sometimes it seems to us that that’s all life is… just rearranging furniture and keeping house on the deck of the Titanic.” 2 likes
“Sam Pickett, English teacher and former basketball coach at Willow Creek High School, scrounged for sleep in his tangled bed. He was thirty-six years old and he hadn’t a clue as to who he was or what his life was about. He bore a wound he couldn’t heal. He” 0 likes
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