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Team Challenge: The Pony Whisperer    by Janet Rising order for
Team Challenge
by Janet Rising
Order:  USA  Can
Sourcebooks, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Team Challenge follows The Word on the Yard as the second in Janet Rising's Pony Whisperer series, starring Pia Edwards and her pony Drummer. In the first book, Pia stumbled upon a 2,000 year old statue of Epona, goddess of horses. The statue allows the person who holds it to understand and converse with horses, thus changing Pia's life and earning her the moniker Pony Whisperer.

As Team Challenge opens, Pia and Drummer are asked to join Katy, Bean, Dee-Dee and their ponies in the Sublime Equine Challenge. The others want Pia and Drummer to compete in the 'Wild Card Event, where anything goes!' Then Dee-Dee backs out but James joins instead (both Catriona and Pia like James, who's unaware of their interest). Pia is thrilled to work with James but worried about what to do for her routine.

When she decides to dress Drummer as a jester he takes some convincing. But they go ahead, Pia using her pony whispering ability to iron out some of the problems that arise. The ponies chat as much as their riders do and Pia (holding Epona) hears it all. The first qualifier goes badly and team members squabble. When Pia has a word with the ponies about their laziness, she learns that they feel taken for granted. The second qualifier goes better, as does the third.

Then Cat tries to have Pia disqualified for her pony whispering advantage, despite the fact that her own team is cheating - Cat backs down, but Pia worries that two wrongs don't make a right. And when her team wins a prize, she discovers that she's lost something else that's very important to her.

Though this second in the Pony Whisperer series raises issues of teamwork and fair competition in sports, the details of riding and show events make it primarily of interest to teens and pre-teens with a passion for horses.

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