Since her parent’s separation two years ago, twelve-year-old Essie lives with her mother, Francesca, who runs her own furniture restoration business in country NSW. Her father, Steve, lives in an apartment in Sydney with his new wife Caroline. He has a well-paying job and travels often to do business deals. Before the separation, Essie and her Dad spent many weekends going to dressage competitions with Essie’s horse, Chet. However, Steve was motivated by success and was only interested in winning. Whereas, Essie enjoyed competing regardless of the result.

Steve ruined the experience for Essie when he gave her horse pain killers so they could compete in a dressage championship. The drugs were picked up in a random test and Essie was ban for twelve months. She decided she was finished with horses.

The Pony Question begins when Essie accompanies Francesca on one of her many trips to an auction to buy old furniture. Francesca is momentarily distracted by a phone call and accidentally bids for a neglected pony which no one wants. Suddenly Essie is thrown back into the world of horses. With the help of friendly neighbours, Essie nurses the pony back to health and strength. She then faces the challenge, will she ride again?

The author, Jackie Merchant, does a good job of describing how Essie is forced to confront her love of horses and untangle her desires from those of her Dad’s. This is a well-written and reflective story of growing up and separating ourselves from our parents’ expectations. My only slight negative was the horse terminology which wasn’t always explained.

Overall a thoughtful read.