If Raja, Story of a Racehorse had been written when I was 11-years-old I would have worn the cover off from reading and re-reading it. Thirteen years later I still read the 250 page book in one sitting as I just had to know what was going to happen to Raja next.
Although the novel could best be described as a modern-day Black Beauty meets National Velvet to me it was so much more than just a fictional account as Raja’s story has happened time and time again for thousands of horses including several of my own. My very first horse Jackson, although not nearly as royally bred as Raja, started his life on the track and even racked up $10,000 in prize money. A bowed tendon landed him at auction where he was bought by a riding school. When the school’s owner was sent to jail the horses ended up in horrific condition and Jackson came into my life. After a career of hunter/jumpers and eventing Jackson is now 18 and retired to the important job of babysitting a herd of donkeys. Throughout the entire book little details kept bringing me back to not only Jackson’s story, but the four other OTTBs that have been in my life.
Raja’s life started in the lap of luxury being born on an Ocala, Florida stud farm owned by a Sheikh. Befriended by the Sheikh’s daughter, Princess Ayesha, Raja is destined for greatness; however an early tragedy and fear of lighting mar Raja’s success. When political turmoil forces the Sheikh and his family back to their country the horses are all sold off. Raja travels from owner to owner at locations familiar to the east coast equestrian world. From Saratoga Springs, New Holland, Maryland Hunt Cup, Times Square, Wellington, Vermont, Hampton Classic and more, author Anne Hambleton puts Raja in real life situations that equestrians of every discipline would recognize.
I was a bit wary when I started reading and realized that the book was narrated by a horse, but was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed the dialogue between the horses. The conversations definitely made me want to talk more to my own horses just in case they can understand English! Raja misses his chance to become a three-day eventer (I was rooting for that owner to keep him of course), but his experiences will still keep eventers entertained. Hambleton is a lifelong horsewoman, retired amateur steeplechase jockey, and Pony Club Graduate “A” so she is able to keep the equestrian world realistic, and I believe that all horse lovers will enjoy and be on the edge of their seats waiting to find out the next stage of Raja’s life. I would definitely recommend the book for any horse lover who is looking for an easy read. It is especially appropriate for the Junior rider or Thoroughbred devotee in your life.
RAJA, softcover $14.95 ages 10+ is available via Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Oldbowpublishing.com and tack stores. More information about the book and author and signings can be found (soon) at www.RajaRaceHorse.com.
The USEA has five copies of Raja to give away so keep an eye on the USEA’s Facebook page to find out how you can win your own copy!