Sand Dune Pony

by Tina Field Howe
(Corning, NY)

Sand Dune Pony

Sand Dune Pony

Sand Dune Pony: A “Gentling” Experience

This assignment rolled around in my brain for several days after I received it.

It might seem odd that a writer had no favorite books as a child, but I really didn’t. I don’t recall being read to a lot, and I pretty much avoided doing any reading myself. It was discovered that I had astigmatism and sensitivity to fluorescent lighting which was, unfortunately, not resolved until my teen years.

After that is when I developed a love for reading – and of horses.

After I discovered horses, you couldn’t keep me away from horse books. There were several, in addition to “The Black Stallion,” that I read. “Sand Dune Pony,” written by Troy Nesbit, is one that has stuck in my brain for many years.

Pete, the city boy who traps a wild horse in a box canyon, did not want to “break” it the same way “real” cowboys do. I recall the painstaking method Pete used in breaking the horse so that he wouldn’t destroy its spirit: it was called “gentling.”

Gentling entails not saddling and jumping on a wild horse, riding it until it breaks and is conquered; instead, you touch, then pet, then lean weight on the horse’s back until, many weeks or months later, you can climb up on its back with barely a notice on the horse’s part – thereby preserving its spirit.

That story must’ve had a big impression on me, because that term often comes to mind when I’m trying to gain someone’s confidence. Gentling, not forcing yourself upon someone, is what helps them come to trust you. Also being honest and showing consistency in your behavior certainly helps.

I think that gentling is the approach I take to writing. I let the story out, little by little, let the characters tell it in their own words and actions, hold just enough of the resolution back to keep the reader guessing, then pay out bits and pieces, in their own time, until the story comes to a good conclusion...gentling.

I had no clue that this word had such an impact on me. If my books leave readers with a thought that lasts a lifetime, as did “Sand Dune Pony” with me, that will be some achievement!

Sand Dune Pony by Troy Nesbit on Amazon.

Tina Field Howe is the author of the children's book, Snailsworth: A Slow Little Story. Visit Tina's page on this site.

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Jun 27, 2012
by: Carolyn MacDonald

Hi Tina,

As a child I read "Sand Dune Pony," and it is the book I have loved ever since.

I was born with the love of horses from day one almost, and today I am a grandmother and am going to share my copy of Sand Dune Pony with my Grandson.

My daughter, his mother read it, and it was her favourite book too.

I also am, at present 'Gentleing" my dream horse, a beautiful black Arabian. It is a very rewarding experience and I have waited a liftime for this.I shall soon be riding her and I know she is going to be as gentle with me as I have been with her.

I just had to share this.

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