“Sam (a pastoral)” is about a horse of no value, who has had it with most of the human race. Sam, the horse, is rescued from an uncertain fate by a child who is starting to believe she has no value. Somehow this unlikely pair works out their issues, including:
1. Talking back, make that screaming back, at her family when they belittle her most cherished dreams.
2. Refusing to be bridled.
3. Refusing to let go of an idea once it enters her head, especially if horses are involved.
4. Refusing to be shod.
5. Sticking to her notion that the first rule in animal care is care.
6. Sticking to his notion that the first rule in human care is care.
By the turning point in this book Sam is doing the rescuing, because his child, Ruthie, has lost all sense of herself. Her father has left the house for good; as a parting shot, he blames Ruthie and Sam for the breakup of the family. Shattered by guilt and consumed with rage, she plunges into a dark winter of the soul that is mirrored by the worst weather their neck of the woods has seen in years.
Sam stands by his kid as Ruthie acts out in all sorts of awful ways. He forgives her tantrums, and pulls her out of her funk and back into the world of the living as a lush spring arrives. More challenges wait in store for the devoted pair, as Ruthie struggles to regain herself and to practice her own and Sam’s notions; that the first rule in the care and feeding of either humans or animals, is care.