Wild Thing

Wild Thing

by Dandi Daley Mackall

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Twelve-year-old Winnie Willis has a way with horses. She can gentle the wildest mare, but other parts of her life don't always come as easily. Along with her dad and sister, Lizzy, Winnie is learning how to live without her mom, who was also a natural horse gentler. As Winnie teaches her horses about unconditional love and blind trust, God shows Winnie that he can be trusted too. Readers will be hooked on the series' vivid characters, whose quirky personalities fill Winnie's life with friendship and adventure.

In #1 Wild Thing, Winnie's fearful heart finally begins to trust God again as she tries to gentle the horse of her dreams, Wild Thing.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780842355421
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 04/28/2002
Series: Winnie the Horse Gentler Series , #1
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,001,480
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Dandi Daley Mackall is the author of numerous books for children, including Larger-Than- Life Lara. She lives in West Salem, Ohio, with her husband and their three children.

Read an Excerpt

Wild Thing

By Dandi Daley Mackall

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Dandi Daley Mackall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0842355421

Chapter One

My mom used to say, "Winnie Willis, in the beginning God created heaven and earth and horses. And sometimes I have to wonder if the good Lord shouldn't have quit while he was ahead."

She knew that was how I felt. She always knew.

I wished Mom could have been right here with me, riding bareback, riding double. Instead, white fog thick as a horse's tail made everything feel upside down as my sister and I headed home from the stable, keeping to the dirt path. I'd never thought of July in Ohio as foggy.

Lizzy, my "little sis," darted past me to walk the dirt path backwards while talking as fast as a horse's trot. At 11 years old-a solid year younger than me-she towers two inches over me. We both got Mom's green eyes and dark hair, but Lizzy dodged the freckles. Lizzy claims my voice is low and raspy and would sound great on the radio, but I think I always sound a little hoarse.

"Winnie?" Lizzy's voice, usually soft as a Morgan mare's winter coat, sharpened. "Have you heard a word I've said?"

"Nope," I answered, picking up the scent of pines and poplar trees from the fields ...

... and maybe horse?

At least a half mile behind us was Stable-Mart, the sorry excuse for a stable, where I had the royal job of mucking out stalls. Anything to be nearhorses.

"I said ...," Lizzy shouted, like the problem was something her volume could fix, "I'm cooking my famous tuna casserole-Dad's favorite. I want him to love living in Ashland!"

I sighed.

"Winnie!" Lizzy said. "Dad could yank us out of Ohio and move us again to who-knows-where!"

I shrugged.

"How can you not care? I want to go to the whole sixth grade here!" Lizzy demanded. "I can't even remember where I finished fourth grade! Today Eddy Barker asked me where I'd gone to fifth grade. I told him, 'The I states-Illinois, Indiana, and ...' What was the last one? Oh yeah-'Iowa.' Well not this year! Huh-uh! No way, Winnie."

I could remember every school, down to the missing L in Mil_er Elementary. I could picture the cracks in my desk in Chicago, the paint at the left bottom corner of the window in Des Moines Middle School.

When I was in first grade in Wyoming, we found out I have a photographic memory. Not a super memory-just a photographic one. If my mind doesn't snap a picture when something happens, I still forget stuff.

Dad always thought I should be a better student, back when he thought about things like that. I admit, sometimes my memory works great on names and dates for history tests. It's like I can still see words and numbers on a page.

But a photographic memory is not so great for getting rid of pictures I don't want in my head-like the upside-down car and my mother's arm, limp as a ribbon over the steering wheel.

I picked up a rock and pitched it as far as I could. We'd moved five times in the two years since we'd sold our ranch in Wyoming. Ashland, Ohio, didn't seem much different than the other places, only smaller.

"Well, you may not care about anything, Winnie," Lizzy continued, "but I do! I like it here. Crickets! Ponds filled with frogs! Roly-polies-the cutest little bugs! And I've never seen so many trees-"

"Lizzy, shush!" I held out my hand like I was stopping traffic. The ground shook-not much, but enough.

Fog pressed against my eyeballs.

Ahead of us, from down the hill through the mist, something thumped.

"Don't tell me to-!" Lizzy started.

"Shh-hh!" I strained to hear it-ta-dump, ta-dump, da-dump, da-dump, closer and louder.


"Move!" I shouted, shoving Lizzy toward the ditch.

DA-DUMP! DA-DUMP! Louder and louder.

"Four of them-no, five!" I yelled, as Lizzy stumbled into the ditch, sputtering something I couldn't make out. I held my ground, knowing they couldn't be more than a few horses' lengths away.

One of the horses whinnied, a frightened burst of horse sadness and fear that tore at my heart.

"Winnie!" Lizzy screamed from the ditch. "Get out of the way!"

The sound of the horses' hooves pounded inside my chest. I made out a blur of legs under the fog cloud-hooves, pasterns, cannons. The stride of the lead horse made her about 15 hands high.

Like a vision, a white mare, silky mane flying, burst through the fog in front of me.

"Easy, girl," I said, raising my arms shoulder high, making a T with my body. "What's the rush?" I held my scarecrow position, not moving, as four other horses closed in behind the mare.

The fog-white horse skidded in front of me, back legs crouching. She reared, pawing the fog, as if fighting invisible cloud horses. Two smaller horses parted behind her, snorting, not knowing whether to head for the hills or wait for her to do battle for all of them.

But I couldn't take my eyes off the ghostly mare. In the fog she appeared pure white. Her dish jowls, big eyes, and finely carved head left no doubt that she was Arabian. Arabians have black skin, but hers barely showed through her cloud-white coat, only casting a gray shadow near her leg joints.

"You the boss here?" I asked.

Two Quarter Horses, a bay Thoroughbred, and a sunburned black Standardbred formed a half-circle audience.

The mare continued to rear, her front hooves striking the ground, then springing up again. But her heart wasn't in it. The springs grew shorter until they stopped. From the scars at her hocks, her jagged hooves, tangled mane, and the wrinkles above her eyes, no one had loved her for a long time, if ever.

I held the mare's attention in a kind of horse bluff as I muttered to her and kept my position. If I gave in first, she'd figure she ruled me too. And I'd better dive out of her way fast. But if I could make her give to me, she'd know she didn't need to protect herself or her herd from me.

From the ditch, Lizzy started, "Winifred Will-!" But she stopped. Lizzy doesn't like horses, but she knows enough not to yell around them. She'd seen our mother talk down dozens of hot horses.

Finally, the ghost mare blinked. She looked down, licking her lips, telling me, Okay, I'll let you handle this.

"That's my girl," I said, stepping closer. I touched her withers, the high part of her back between the shoulder blades. She let me scratch her neck under her tangled, white mane.

I felt horses galloping a second before I heard the thunder of more hooves. But these sounded different, closer to the ground. The fog had lifted a bit, and I squinted to see two men on chestnut Quarter Horses cantering up the path toward us.

"There they are!" one of the men cried. I knew by his snakeskin boots that he was the Spidells' son, Richard. Richard liked to play stable boss at his dad's Stable-Mart. He reminded me of an overgrown kid playing cowboy. The Spidells owned just about everything in Ashland and never let anybody forget it.

Richard sped up, galloping straight for us. "You! Kid! Get out of the way!"

The Arabian laid back her ears. I felt fear creep back into her muscles as Richard's gelding pulled up beside us.

"Grab that wild animal!" the older man yelled, riding up beside Richard.

The man's voice startled the mare. She whinnied, then reared once and bolted.

"Help!" Lizzy cried, as the mare headed straight for the ditch-Lizzy's ditch.

"Lizzy, get down!" I yelled.

The mare never broke stride. She galloped to the ditch and sailed over it, clearing with two feet to spare, her white tail high as a flag.

"Great!" Richard muttered.

The other horses stirred, but looked as if they'd had enough fun for one day and were ready to be led and fed.

"I'll take these on to the stable. You go after Wild Thing!" Richard shouted at the man, keeping the easy job for himself.

The man's belly bounced over his saddle horn. His stirrups hung too short, so his legs doubled. He cursed, then took his anger out on his mount, kicking his heels into the docile Quarter Horse.

"You are so human," I muttered.

The poor horse grunted and sprang like a Lipizzaner, then charged the ditch. But instead of taking it, he did a cattle-pony stop that nearly unseated his rider.

"What's the matter with you?" the man shouted, scrambling to get his seat back. Jerking the reins and regaining his stirrups, he let his horse take the long way down the path.

"Who was that?" I asked, staring after the vanishing white mare.

"That?" Richard said, circling his horse behind the abandoned herd. "Craig Barnum. He does the horse auctions. He's worthless-couldn't even get this lot from the auction barn to our stable."

"Not him," I said, squinting for the faintest view of the gorgeous mare. "The Arabian. Who is she?"

"She's a wild thing," Richard said, spitting the words out. "Dad bought her at auction. He got stung though, if you ask me. That mare's nothing but trouble."

Lizzy crawled out of the ditch as Richard trotted off, rounding up the other auction horses.

"Winnie?" Lizzy called. "Coast clear?"

I kept staring at the spot on the horizon where I'd last seen the beautiful, white ghost horse. My photographic memory had snapped a shot, leaving the horse's image seared into my brain. "Winnie!" Lizzy shouted, coming to stand next to me. "What are you looking at?"

"The horse I've been dreaming about my whole life."

It was the truth, even though I'd hardly made the connection before the words came out of my mouth. For as long as I could remember, when I'd closed my eyes, I'd been able to picture an Arabian-noble, white, wide-eyed-exactly like this one.

"What are you talking about?" Lizzy demanded.

"Lizzy," I said, calling up my mind's picture of the rearing Arabian, "I have to have that horse. And I'll do whatever it takes to get her."


Excerpted from Wild Thing by Dandi Daley Mackall Copyright © 2002 by Dandi Daley Mackall
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Wild Thing (Winnie the Horse Gentler Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
Jenny_Rose More than 1 year ago
Winnie Willis used to work with horses with her mother before the accident. The accident that killed her mother. Winnie blames herself. Now she, her dad and her younger sister Lizzy spend their time moving-a few months here and a few months there. Winnie is so desperate to be around horses that she mucks the stalls at Spidell's stable where she learns a beautiful new Arabian horse has arrived. It is love at first sight for Winnie, but nobody seems to be able to handle the wild horse. Winnie buys the Arabian at an auction and using everything her mother taught her, Winnie slowly befriends the horse. Then she gets ready to sell the horse she has become so fond of at a sale because her family could really use the money. Dandi Daley Mackall is obviously a talented writer. I ran through so many emotions as I read. If you know a young girl age 8-12 who loves animals, especially horse, she would love this book. If you know a girl who has ever read Pony Pals (Scholastic), Mackall's writing is very similar and not preachy. I downloaded this as a free e-book to check it out for my daughter, but I would gladly pay money for any of Mackall's books and plan to get more of what she has written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really amazing! Its a combination of Christianity, animals, and family relationships. The perfect book for an animal lover!
Louisa_May More than 1 year ago
I'm always looking for chapter books to read to my 6 and 7 year old daughters. I often read them books outloud that they aren't able to read on their own yet. My girls love horses so I thought I'd see what the Horse Gentler series was about. The book was great! I won't be reading it to my young daughters but definitely look forward to giving them the book to read when they're 9 or 10. Some of the things dealt with in this book are pretty big things for younger kids--like guilt, bitterness, and death of a parent. The main character, Winnie, is madly in love with horses. She discovers a wild Arabian and, even though she feels far away from God because of the guilt that's tied up with her mom's death 2 years ago, she prays that the horse could be hers. In the end, Winnie experiences God's forgiveness and grace. Her conversion back to God is written in a beautiful way that I think most children 9 and up will be able to grasp, especially if they are Christians. This book would be a good evangelistic tool, also, for a little girl who doesn't know Jesus yet. I definitely recommend it for any girl in the recommended age range, especially if she loves horses! If not, she probably will be the time she finishes the last chapter. At the end of the book, there's a horse diagram about the "Parts of the Horse" where readers will learn everything from the muzzle to the withers. There's also a 4 page "Horse-o-Pedia" about different types of horses and a 4 page section on "Horse Talk" where readers can learn how horses communicate to people and each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i really enjoyed this book, wish i'd read it when i was a kid!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire series. It is one of the best series i have ever read. I would recomend it to any horse crazy kid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Start To An Awesome Series I love this series and I have read all of them including countless other books by Dandi Daley Mackall. She is a very talented author and I hope that she continues to write amazing books! The Winnie the Horse Gentler series is awesome. It's about real life situations that could happen to anyone. They are about the unmistakeable bond between a girl and her horse. They're about friendship, love , rough times, and about how if you have God, then you can get through it all and know that everything is going to be okay. The books that I recommended are great books for people that are horse lovers and even those who aren't!!
Maiden_Of_Fire More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this book, I was a little girl who dreamed of someday riding a horse. Even now as I've been able to live my dream and become familiar with the horse world, this book is special to me. Winnie is a twelve-year old girl who has just lost her mother and is struggling to find herself. She ends up finding a horse infamous for her wild behavior, and she becomes determined to tame it, as her mother, a horse gentler, would have. But taming the Wild Thing might be more than she though it would be! I loved how the author was true to life in this story. A bond with a horse is almost never truly magical, and although a girl trying to tame a horse is rare, it's not unheard of. I loved how she learns to trust God as the horse comes to trust her. Great read, highly recommended.
hannah97 More than 1 year ago
Wild Thing is a good start to the Horse Gentler series. This is a book that can be enjoyed by horse lovers and non-horse lover alike.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awesome book! So are the other ones in the series! I would recommend this series to anyone! It has also been a huge help to me with my walk with God and it has made me want to spend more time with my horses!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ive read the whole series and its the best book series ever! I love this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book like A LOT!!! As a 9 year old I recomand this a book for 8-99 age is probably good for all ages at the most... I read it for a book report and picked it randomly because I didn't have any time left at Library... So basicly I read it as a book not on my nook but I'm reviewing it on my nook. I'm also a BIG christian like Winnie, Lizzy, and Dad!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I oove this book and this series. This about a girl who lost her mom in a car accident. And she acuses herself for it. This is a amazing series about how a girl grows closer to gos.
mommish More than 1 year ago
A great pre-teen book! I wish this book and series was around when I was younger, though I even enjoyed it as an adult. This is a great book for any young girl (boys too though it appeals more for a girl) that loves horses. There were some great themes about healing and redemption through out the book. Another great point was that the book contains some very detailed information about horses; their parts, different breeds, and how they communicate.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My name is Kayla. I'm 13 years old. I absoltly loved this book!!! I would recomend it to any one who loves horses. It isn't just for little kids. It is one of the best sereies ever. I would also recommend the Thouroghbred seris. Some one said that if you read WINNIE THE HORSE GENTLER SEREIS YOU GOT TO BE IN 4TH GRADE. I got very mad because it is for all ages. So if your looking for a easy,Fun,Exciting books read this sereies
Organicshoes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dandi Daley Mackall has created the must read series for the next generation. If you love God and horses this is the book for you! Winnie: The Horse Gentler follows 12 year old Winnie and her love for horses. By the end of this book you will not only have learned tons about horses but fall in love with a cast of characters and a family rebuilding itself after tragedy. In the first book of the series, Wild Thing, Winnie and her sister Liz have just moved with their dad to a new town where Winnie spots the most beautiful horse she has ever seen and knows that she must own the horse. Through twists and turns Winnie gets the chance to see and work with the horse deemed `Wild Thing¿ once Winnie with the help of some friends figures out how she can earn the money to buy `Wild Thing¿ she goes to tell him and discovers that the owners have moved him. Will Winnie find where they have taken `Wild Thing¿ will she be able to have her dream horse at last? Will she ever see `Wild Thing¿ again?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally agree with you one hundred percent. Posting Warior cats names is the dumbest thing ever.Sure, i like the books, but pretending to be like them,STUPIDEST THING E-V-E-R!!!! Wanna be nook friends?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and want to read all of the books. I like how it is very adventurous and exciting. I just love everything about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hadn't read this book, but now that I have, I think it's very heartwarming. I have loved horses all my life, and it makes me closer to one of my friends because she actually has a horse. I don't have a horse but I love them the same. I think this was geared toward younger audiences but all ages will enjoy this book. I think this is an OK book for all ages and I hope to see more about all different animals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookReviewerNicole More than 1 year ago
I feel like I've been having a lot of true confession time since reading a few of the kids books Tyndale has published. This book went WAY beyond my expectations for a kids book. Winnie is a normal Fourth grade girl following in her mother's footsteps...if you consider a horse whisperer in the form of a sweet little girl normal. This is a wonderful book on, doing what God has for us, and learning to trust in Him and His love even when it seems impossible, in the form of an adventurous young girl training and calming horses. What could be better for a girl's series? Oh yea, did I mention it has information on taking care of horses for the horse lover? GREAT book!
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
Even though this book is geared for younger readers, I have to admit that I learned a lot from it. I loved the way Mackall introduced readers to terms about horses and the equipment used to take care of them. She also included an extensive glossary at the back of the book about different kinds of horses and a comprehensive diagram about the parts of the horse. Readers also learn a lot about horse training and how to act around horses. I grew up reading horse stories, so I was really surprised at how much I learned. Mackall has a knack for writing amazing stories that draw readers in, while teaching them about animals, and teaching them life lessons. In this one readers are drawn into Winnie's world as she struggles to cope with the loss of her mother and the perception that her father blames her for her mother's death. This is one of the few stories where I wasn't quite sure of the ending and I could imagine it going a couple of different ways. I wasn't disappointed in the ending, and I don't think anyone else would be either. After reading several of Mackall's horse stories, I can safely say that I am a fan. She does a great job with believable adolescent characters and animal characters. Readers are immediately sucked in and begin to care about the characters right from the beginning of the book. I can't wait to read other stories in this series.
givemethebible More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book several years ago, probably shortly after it was published. I liked it when I read it then, and I also liked it when I reread it today, although I believe it was intended for slightly younger audiences. It is a pretty easy read with realistic and likable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book rocks! Definitaly would request this book to others!
Miss_CindyH More than 1 year ago
For a children's book I wasn't expecting it to be as emotionally deep.   If you have a child into horse's this is a great story.  Just be prepared for some of the issues - Winnie's mom's death, her guilt, her distance toward her dad and to God, her anger and impulsiveness, insecurities,  etc.  It was a great story of friendship, faith and trust.  Winnie is a lot like Wild Thing.  She's hurt but doesn't seem to see that it is controlling her life.  She begins to see herself and those around her differently as the story goes along.  There's a lesson for all of us in this one....