Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not begin writing and publishing until 1978. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.
THE WAY OF HORSES
by Eleanor Gustafson
Dynamo is a book of many layers. The cover speaks the obvious horse theme, but underneath you’ll find a complex mix of relationships and spiritual interactions—the main characters being God, Maybelle, and Jeth—in that order. Jeth trains horses, but God, with Maybelle’s help, trains Jeth and grabs the reader, as well. The story moves fast, right to the last page, with many twists and turns along the way.
I have loved horses since my first riding lesson at age 7 or 8. My small town of Branchville, New Jersey, hosted one of the major horse shows in the northeast. The horses I rode were comfortable pleasure types, but at that show I saw magnificent animals of widely differing breeds. Western, draft, carriage, hunters, jumpers, three- and five-gaited Saddlebreds. These differing breeds served practical purposes—cutting cattle from the herd, drawing heavy wagons or stylish carriages, and even chasing game across pastureland with its stone or rail fences.
Jeth was hired to train jumpers for the show ring, but he got caught up with Dynamo, a nasty-tempered, five-gaited stallion. This is a breed that combines pure beauty, skill, and artistry. A horse’s three normal gaits are walk, trot, and canter or gallop. A five gaiter adds two extra gears: One, slow-gait in which each foot comes down separately. Then the call to Rack On! ramps up slow-gait to a sizzling pace. Breathtaking—at least to me as a teenager!
Forgetting all this jargon, horses themselves display an inner integrity. They are bred to serve. They have a purpose and do it well.
What’s the purpose of your life? Jeth had to learn how to become a servant. I too am learning that—daily. The track may be hard, but God has His design for us. And while we may not win any blue ribbons in this life, we may one day hear a loud, clear voice saying, Well done, good and faithful servant.
From the moment they entered the ring at a smart trot, Dynamo was perfection—head up, knees rising almost to his chin. His coppery coat glowed, his mane and tail flaxen and swirling in the wind of his own making. Jeth could feel the ground-shaking dynamo beneath him, and never had he felt more one with a horse. The stallion was a well-oiled machine—totally honest, all business, with a way-out-front heart.
The high-stepping competition was stiff indeed, a world apart from the locals who had cobbled together a class for themselves. But now that he was actually in the ring on Dynamo, Jeth didn’t care how it came out. Six ribbons, seven horses. He could be out of the running, but this moment—right now—was all that mattered. This was their common destiny, what they were made to do, and they did it with gusto—all flags flying. Born to rack. (Page 182)
More about Dynamo:
Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania’s mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a volatile gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob’s jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion.
Everything changes when God enters his life—in the unconventional form of a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But along with fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God’s hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, “Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I’m being set up for something.”
He is, indeed. Jeth’s life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption.
This story is God in your face: Who is He, really? What does He ask of us?
Endorsement: “…a riveting tale, set in a world of high-stakes horse shows and stable intrigue, and an unflinching look at some of the best and worst in human relationships.”
~Sally Wilkins, Sports and Games of Medieval Cultures
Where to find Ellie:
Amazon Page: www.amazon.com/author/eleanorgustafson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EgusEllie @EgusEllie
Facebook: Ellie Gustafson
Thanks for stopping by Ellie. I, too, have loved horses since I was a little girl. At age cough, mumble I was finally able to own two Tennessee Walking Horses–half-sisters. A few years later, we sold them. I didn’t, and still don’t, have the time to devote to riding them as they needed, and they were too expensive to keep as pets. There are still times I miss them, but I’m sure they’re happier with a family who wanted to ride.