Book Review: The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse


“How are you ever going to get anywhere if you give up?” She said.
“I won’t,” I said.
“Exactly, you won’t give up,” she clarified.
-The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse

Today I’m excited to be a part of a virtual “blog tour” for the book release of The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse: A Memoir (October 2016) by author and dressage rider Victoria Shade. That means I get to review the book and hold a giveaway! I was contacted a month ago about the blog tour and decided to do it because 1) the theme resonated with this blog: horses helping people, 2) the story sounded like something readers might enjoy and their students might relate to, and 3) I spend a lot of my time nursing so reading is the one thing I CAN do consistently, this would be a fun new thing to post about!

Publisher’s Description:

“In the midst of a tumultuous childhood with an abusive father, Victoria meets Moonshine, an ex-racehorse saved from the slaughterhouse and abuse. She despairs at having to ride such a difficult horse but slowly learns the stables provide a safe haven for them both. The pair compete in dressage, a sport that tests the unity of horse and rider as they engage in what can only be called dancing. They compete against horses bred solely for the sport, always struggling to overcome the bias against horses like “Moony.” As she grows and comes of age, Victoria teaches Moonshine to trust, and he teaches Victoria the importance of heart and perseverance. Together, they overcome their similar histories, forge an unforgettable bond, and compete in the Junior Nationals in this inspiring and compelling true story of how a girl and her horse changed each other’s lives forever.”

My Review:

In a nutshell, The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse is a memoir about a girl growing up with a rough family situation, finding solace at the barn, falling in love with dressage, acquiring a horse that is the opposite of the perfect dressage horse, and working through all the pitfalls to train him as far as he can go. It’s a coming of age story about overcoming obstacles. It’s a dressage story about the horses we love. It’s a familiar story about the therapy we find in horses.

I really enjoyed this book! It drew me in right away, kept me engaged, and things kept happening. The storyline was well paced, weaving between the main character’s home life and barn life. Things kept happening. I kept reading. It was fun – I felt like a kid devouring Saddle Club books again! Similar to that series, this book does a great job of introducing the reader to the horse world: explaining horse terms, detailing the steps in horse care, and so on, which makes the story accessible both to horse people and non-horse people. This would be an especially good book for a new equestrian who is interested in dressage, as the story is focused on that sport!

I really liked how well the book describes growing up. Because growing up is hard, and this author does a great job being honest about it. She remembers well what it was like to have a ton of emotions, little control over life circumstances, and all the hope in the world. She explains how the barn was a safe haven and horses her escape, as I’m sure we all can relate to. It’s such a good reminder for us instructors about what many of our riders are going through, and a lovely example of a horse teaching a girl to trust, gain confidence, and learn self-control. Throughout the book runs the theme of working hard to overcome the odds and biases, and the really good moral to not give up. It’s inspiring, and something that may encourage a student of yours.

Before you go recommending this book to your riders, though, I feel I should warn you there is some cussing and domestic violence, because that is the home situation she was in. It’s definitely more an adult or high schooler book. I’d recommend reading it first, then deciding who it would be appropriate to give it to.

Overall, I’d recommend reading The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse! It was a fun read that I didn’t want to put down! The best part is that it’s a true story, with an afterword that includes pictures.

Publisher’s “About the Author”:

Victoria Shade currently practices law, focusing on animal law and personal injury protection. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association Animal Law Committee, as well the Animal Law Committee’s Legislative subcommittee, and is involved in several groups supporting the humane treatment of animals, from the SPCA to the Animal Legal Defense Fund. She lives with her husband, also a horse-lover, and their young daughter, Olivia Jane, who had her first ride on Moony when she was in mommy’s belly.  The family lives on a horse farm where Moonshine is one of many beloved family pets.

Buy the Book:

The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse on Amazon

Enter the Giveaway to win a Free Copy!

This is my first giveaway so bear with me. You can enter by:

  1. Leaving a comment on this page, AND
  2. Using the sign up below

(If you’re reading this in a subscription email you will have to go to the blog itself to do this).

Note the giveaway is for a hard copy edition, not the Kindle I have pictured 🙂

Entries are open through Thursday night. The winner will be drawn and contacted on Friday. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgment!

14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Tale of the Dancing Slaughter Horse

  1. Re:The Tale of a Dancing Slaughter Horse
    This sounds like a wonderful book. I like what you said about feeling like you were back reading Saddle Club books. That is the feeling you conveyed when I read your review. Can’t wait to read it, either for free 🙂 Or purchased.

  2. This book sounds really interesting. As a special education teacher and therapeutic horseback riding instructor it sounds like it has all the elements of an excellent read.

  3. Thanks for doing a giveaway and reviewing the book. The book sounds really interesting. Working in the TR field I like the physical and emotional draw to the main characters life and dealing with the horse that was bound for slaughter. The story sounds compelling.

  4. I began by trying to learn a new discipline and as an adult began riding. I had always been interested in the way that horses help autistic children and those who have CP. I had hoped to find tips on how to help me learn…instead, I am interested in helping others learning to ride. I am now on my way to being confident at the canter… so I can achieve my PATH certification. Like the girl in the story, the barn is my solace from work and the stress of life. Thanks for all you do in sharing this information and helping people.

  5. Sounds like a great book and so appropriate to all the lessons and healing and patience we give and receive in working with horses and ourselves! Happy nursing. those days pass too quickly. now I look for socks to darn just to sit quietly sometimes. LOL

  6. Excellent review! Thank you for taking the time to read it, share info and advise of adult content. Loved your suggestion that WE read it first, before recommending .. so we know how graphic it is, and who our target audience may be for this read.

    Always love your posts! This one no different. Thank you, again.

  7. This definitely looks like something I would like to read. Your blog was a very nice insight about this book. Love a good book that you just want to keep reading.

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