Girls and Their Horses

Eliza Jan Brazier

Berkley Pub

June 6th, 2023

Girls and Their Horses by Eliza Jane Brazier is more than just a book about horses.  Readers should think about sports travel teams and stage mothers.  Those parents who try to put their own dreams on their children and push them to succeed, even when the dream does not seem realistic. The book explores the world of competitive horse jumping, with overbearing mothers who push their children to compete, toxic coaches, and mean girls. 

The story opens with a suspicious death at a horse show.  Throughout the book readers are trying to figure out who has been killed since the author does not reveal the victim until late in the story. This adds to the suspense along with other accidents that put some of the girls in danger.  

Besides the murder there is also bullying.  One of the families, the Parkers, have joined the Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian Center, to make a fresh start.  They left their Texas home because the youngest daughter, Maple, was constantly being bullied. Besides Maple, readers get the perspective of her sister Piper, her mom Heather, and some of the other families, Vera, and Pamela. While all appear superficial at the beginning of the book as readers get to know the characters they begin to like and dislike them. 

Then there are the men in the story.  Kieran, the owner of the center and the head trainer appears to only care about his prestige. Douglas works with the horses and is involved with some of the female characters.  The father of Piper and Maple, Jeff, is only concerned about making money. 

Anyone who has never read Brazier should start with this book. It is a fabulous story involving smoldering tension, manipulation, poisonous female friendships, and wealthy power dynamics, a depiction on the elite world of teen horse competitions.

Elise Cooper: Are you a horse person? 

Eliza Jane Brazier: I live ten minutes from Rancho Santa Fe. I worked in the horse industry for several years as a working student, a rider in a training program, and a riding instructor. I would observe the different dynamics between parents and children, which is what was the original spark for this book. There were some incidents where a mom wanted to pass her dream of riding horses to her child. 

EC: Do you think in the beginning of the book the characters appeared superficial?

EJB: My characters might have presented themselves that way. I want to write my characters taking a journey. In the beginning of the book as in most cases when someone first meets a person that person can appear superficial. It is only after the reader gets to know them, spending more time with them, they see the characters reveal themselves in a natural way.

EC: How would you describe Mable?

EJB: Bullied, which affected her.  She went along to get along.  Very anxious, jealous, with an attitude of woe is me. She idolizes her mom, is jealous of her sister Piper, and feels unlikeable.

EC:  You describe the bullying affect?

EJB:  Yes.  Bullies tease, push people around, and humiliate them. By complaining or showing fear the bullies are energized. I was bullied.  The scene in the book happened to me, where someone pulled me down by my hair and threw me on the ground.  I wanted to show how a parent feels powerless and helpless in those type of situations. The bullying motivated Heather, Maple’s mom, because she really wants to help her child, but does not know how.  

EC:  How would describe Piper?

EJB:  She is a go-getter, a problem solver, lonely, and tried to hide her feelings about horses. 

EC:  How about Heather?

EJB:  She wants good things for her children and is very supportive.  She does not see herself as a good mom. Heather is affected by being abandoned as a child. She has not dealt with her past and is not happy in her marriage. By marrying Jeff, Heather thought she would be safe and secure with him, someone to count on.  They never had any romance or love in the relationship. Her focus is on making her children happy instead of making herself happy. Heather has lost herself as a person. 

EC:  What about Heather’s relationship with her daughters?

EJB: She can be pushy and controlling. Eventually she realizes this and tries to back down. Her journey is the backbone of the whole book. The premise is a mom’s influence over their children and how they should yield it. No parent should be completely hands off yet should not be domineering. The other mom, Pamela, lets her daughter Vida do whatever she wants and then there is Heather, who tries to figure out where she is as a parent. 

EC:  How would you describe Vida and her relationship with her mom?

EJB:  A bully, self-centered, devious, basically a complete mean girl. Her mom Pamela related more to Maple than Vida. 

EC:  Can you explain why the mother quote?

EJB:  You are referring to this one. “You would worry and torment and impact your kids for the rest of their lives.  They would blame you for everything.  They would blame you for nothing.” I have eight brothers and sisters, with thirty nieces and nephews.  I get to observe many different dynamics between parents and their children. As people get older, they realize it is not about a right or wrong decision, but which decision will be the least harmful. With parenting the consequences are huge and somewhat scary because it affects someone’s life. The characters in the book have a complicated relationship with their parents. 

EC:  How would you describe Kieran, the owner of the Equestrian?

EJB:  He thought himself of G-d, is obsessed, narcissist, manipulative, controlling, and intimidating.  All that mattered to him are the horses. 

EC:  He abused humans, but did he also abuse horses?

EJB: Many readers who are not familiar with horses might think he abused them. ACE is a commonly used horse tranquilizer, which he gave the horse Commotion.  It is something commonly used. It is administered to calm a horse, especially after an injury. ACE is a mild sedative. This does not mask a horse’s injury. 

EC:  Douglas played an important role in the story?

EJB: He was confident, patient, sensitive, passionate, and charming. But he was also desperate to be loved.

EC: What was the role of the horses?

EJB:  They are beautiful and smart, powerful, and can help someone.  I put in this book quote, “Anyone that did not believe in magic, had never written a horse.” The horse Commotion brought Piper out of her shell, but also created jealousy among the girls. Through Commotion everyone projected their dreams. Maybe Douglas and Piper appreciated the horse as a separate being, but they also wanted to see how they can achieve their dreams through the horse. Both looked on the horse as a friend.

EC:  What about any movies/TV shows?

EJB:  There is something in the works. 

EC:  Next book?

EJB: I went into a different direction.  It is about a guy and gal who meet on an overnight sleeper train going from Florence to Paris.  They have a flirtation, but he disappears.  Both are contract killers. It has murder, romance, and adventure.  It should be out the end of the summer next year.




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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.