This novel would have to have the most gut-wrenching first page of any equestrian book – fiction or non-fiction. It is told in the words of the horse, Phoenix, and while this is not a new method the insights into “the horse’s lot” will be an eye-opener for many.
The often-repeated, ancient maxim “if only they could talk” has left horsemen and women over the ages wondering just that: if they could talk, what would they say? Would they like us? Would they be happy in their lives?
Perhaps for many equestrians it is just as well they cannot talk as they would not like what came out of their horse’s mouth.
Phoenix Rising, by NS Newsome
Lavender and White Publishing
£3.99 – ebook
A percentage of the sale price goes to The Ray of Hope Rescue centre in France.
Available from the publisher
The star of this book Phoenix Rising, is a young thoroughbred with an excellent pedigree and plenty of speed. She has a good upbringing but is high-spirited and with a mind of her own. This can often be a good thing but her behaviour and some bad luck leads Phoenix out of the racing system and into the outside world.
And in recent months the fate of horses whose luck has changed for the worse has come into the spotlight, with the horrific news that British and American equines all too often end up on dinner tables in Europe – even disguised in processed meat products on British supermarket shelves.
Most likely over-represented in these statistics is the noble thoroughbred – born to race and win, but if they don’t then their future suddenly becomes rather bleak.
Often what seems a promising option for a horse to have a new career or to live out their days turns out the opposite – these trusting and helpless animals are at the mercy of the humans who are entrusted with their care. Helpless because they cannot run away as a desperate dog or cat might.
As Phoenix finds, there are good homes and bad, and a horse who was once considered a classic contender can end up on the slipperly slope of being passed from owner to owner, with the circumstances often more dire each time.
We won’t reveal any more of the plot but we will say that Phoenix Rising will take the reader on a soul-searching journey, one that far too many horses travel every day.
Indeed, if only they could talk.
* Phoenix Rising is from the same stable as Winners, by Jacqui Broderick.
Nicky Newsome grew up in the heart of England, close to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, and developed a passion for all things equestrian at a very young age. However, she had to make do with galloping around the garden on home-made hobby horses until she was judged responsible enough to have a real-life pony at the age of 12. She has never been without at least one horse or pony in her life ever since.
A serious riding accident when she was 18 put paid to her ambitions of being a jockey, but her brief employment in a jump-racing yard left her with a deep love of, and respect for, thoroughbreds. With her riding career over, Nicky returned to full-time education to take an Honours Degree in Communication Studies, following which she spent several years working for the British Horse Society. Deciding that what she really wanted to do was write about horses, and develop her interest in ‘natural horsemanship’, she then found employment with a publisher of equestrian magazines, during which time she was involved in a National campaign by the International League for the Protection of Horses (now World Horse Welfare) to prevent the live export of equines for meat.
For the past 13 years, Nicky has lived on a small farm in France with her husband, Steve, her two Arabian horses, two ponies and a menagerie of other animals, and has recently re-homed a young, ex-race horse called Charlie. Phoenix Rising is her first work of fiction, but she is hoping it won’t be her last.