HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Wild Horse Running
Author and Illustrator: Sam Savitt
Publisher: Scholastic, republished in 1975
ISBN-13: 978-0396068082 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0396068081 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0590429535 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0590429531 (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.samsavitt.com/ (author)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10-15
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Savitt, Sam. Wild Horse Running (published in 1973 by Dodd, Mead and Company; republished in 1975 by Scholastic Book Services, a division of Scholastic Magazines Inc., New York City, NY). As the story opens, Cloud is a newborn wild mustang foal in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. He is a deep gray. His mother is a bay mare, and his father, leader of the herd, is a steely gray stallion. When the young horse is a yearling, some mustangers try to capture the herd. Cloud escapes and lives in the wild alone for a time, but is later captured and turned into a bucking bronco known as Blue Cyclone for the rodeo circuit. However, during a thunderstorm he escapes again and finds his way back to the herd, where he becomes the leader. Meanwhile, fifteen year old Lon Whiteside and his mother Jane are moving from New York following the death of Lon’s father to the Montana ranch of Jane’s father Tom Richardson which is near the Pryor Mountains.
Lon has become depressed and unhappy following the death of his father. However, when the Montana Bureau of Land Management tries to round up all the wild horses, most of which will be sent to pet food factories, Lon finds Cloud injured, brings him home, and tries to nurse him back to health. Will Cloud survive? If he does, will he become a cow horse or will he ever return to his herd? And when Lon has to make the choice, what will it be? This action-filled story is based on fact, following the development of a mustang stallion’s life from his birth, through his capture and rodeo experiences, to the conclusion of his tale. There are a few common euphemisms (heck, darn, gosh), and Mr. Richardson once said that he went “through [‘h’] and high water” to catch a mustang, but no actual cursing or profanity occurs.
Several important messages are embedded in the plot, including how to deal with grief, the importance of freedom, kindness to animals, and the need for conservation with the conviction that Montana’s wild horses should be protected in their natural state. Horse lovers will especially appreciate it. Author Sam Savitt (1917–2000) was a wonderful writer and illustrator of horse-stories, beginning with Step-A-Bit: The Story of a Foal (1956), and including Midnight and Vicki and the Black Horse. He was not only an equine author and artist but also an illustrator of over 100 other books. Also, he was the official illustrator of the United States Equestrian Team, and a founding member of the American Academy of Equine Artists. In fact, he created several horse charts that are considered authoritative works and have been used by the Smithsonian Institution.