Join The Dance Book Two: The Dancing With Horses Trilogy

ABOUT Toni Mari

Toni Mari
I was seven when I decided I was going to be an equestrian. We lived in the suburbs in New Jersey and we didn't even have a dog because he ran away and Mom said we weren't getting another one. I read every horse book in my elementary school's library (we didn't have kindles waaay back then More...



Jane Mitchell rode her difficult, high strung horse, Windsong, for almost a year with one goal in mind, "Make the North American Junior Team". Windsong was inconsistent in the show ring, sometimes making Jane fear for her life and sometimes performing so beautifully, even the judge wanted to cheer. She had one more chance to get a score high enough to raise her ranking into the top four.

At the last qualifying show, Jane is running behind schedule, but still stops when she sees a pony buck its rider off. She leaps the fence to assist the fallen child despite the fact that she’ll miss having a proper warm-up. The kid is the daughter of famous Erica Flame, one of the most well-known Olympic riders in the nation. Erica is also the coach for the team. Stunned by her new acquaintance, Jane stumbles off to get her horse ready.

Somehow, Jane must ride a great test despite having virtually no warm-up, having no Cory to soothe her frazzled nerves and being carefully watched by not just one, but two, Olympians, her nemesis, Melinda Kratz and the charming, yet arrogant Shawn, one of last year’s team members. So when Jane edges into fourth place and is nominated to the team, she is elated. that is, until she finds out who  the other three members of the team will be.

Melinda, who has been her rival for years, beating Jane in the show ring as they both advanced up the levels of dressage. Melinda makes sure she rubs it in Jane's face every time she wins. Alison McBride, a cool, sophisticated heiress who rides the most expensive horse her protective, obtuse father can buy. She is not a team player and sabotage is not beneath her. Then there is Shawn Delaney, easy on the eyes, charming and determined to win Jane away from her boyfriend, Cory.

The best young talent in the nation rides in this championship competition. These young adults are expected to perform consistently and professionally with none of the drama that teenagers thrive upon. Can Jane keep up with these kids, can she become a valuable team member, does she have what it takes or will her tendency toward overreacting be her undoing?

Once again, this is a story that will captivate young adults and women alike. Equestrians or anyone who loves the thrill of competitive sports will enjoy the journey one ordinary girl takes to become an extraordinary dressage rider. If only mastering her horse was the only skill she needed, Jane would be the victor. But she learns, as every teenager finds out, that there is more to success and failure than just winning a ribbon or blowing a class. Entertaining, as well as uplifting, Jane and Windsong will capture your heart.

I will often tell my students that if performing dressage was easy, everyone would be doing it. The unique combination of nervous animal and nervous rider can make for some very interesting performance issues. Each rider/horse team requires special handling. At a horse show just last weekend, I had to coach a twelve year old on how to throw her weight onto her rearing horse’s neck to keep from tumbling over backwards. Hmm, that sounds like a familiar scenario with Windsong. The horse is talented and beautiful but has his own breaking point. The challenge and the addiction of working past the bad behavior and turning in a good test at a show is what keeps us horse enthusiasts coming back for more hair raising excitement. The feeling of coming down the centerline to your final halt, knowing that you overcame a difficult movement and may have scored the best that you ever have is tough to match. And when your horse swells under you with pride in his effort, you promise to work even harder and do what it takes to continue to show again and again. I do not consider myself a thrill seeker, but when a non-horsey friend asks, “How did your event go?” and I describe the highlights of the show day with my students often standing and acting out portions of the story, I realize that my job is on the thrilling side. If I had a nickel for eveytime I slid back into my seat after such a delivery, and the listener shook their head and said, “You should write a book.” I would have financed my retirement by now. I do enjoy telling my stories, and a lot of the horse events in the book are true and have happened. And I will tell you that behind the scenes at an equestrian event is full of excitement. But be careful, if you aren’t already addicted to the thrill of riding a horse, you may become addicted if you try it!