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Riding the Devil

Length: 335 pages4 hours


José’s story is set in the rich setting of a Southern California Rancho while California was still part of a newly independent Mexico. Eleven-year-old José dreams of being a vaquero, a cowboy. However, he must first conquer his fears by facing the injustices of his era, animal cruelty, wild animals and the vindictive young vaquero, Chaco.

José’s adventure begins when Patas Locas, a horse with a strong and wild spirit, comes to the Rancho and seems to be “unbreakable” and unrideable. The arrogant Chaco, a young vaquero, is repeatedly thrown from Patas Locas. The stallion refuses to be “broken” in the traditional manner. Frustrated and embarrassed by his lack of success, Chaco lashes out at José. Ashamed, José interprets his feelings of compassion for the animals as cowardice. Like any son, José seeks his father’s approval. But José’s vaquero father is angered and disappointed when he misunderstands José’s behavior and sees his son as weak and fearful.
Fifteen-year-old Gogo is considered “the dummy” of the rancho due to his speech impediment and general shyness. He too is bullied by Chaco, teased for his odd speech, and for being so big and awkward. But some people on the Rancho recognize that Gogo has a gift with animals. Unlike Chaco who tries to control “Patas” by force, Gogo is able to calm the wild animal with a gentle touch.

José discovers his strength and unleashes his fury when Chaco puts a helpless young horse in the holding pen with a California Grizzly Bear who has been captured for the traditional bull & bear fight. José risks his own life to free the young filly. Instead of being recognized for his courage, José is falsely accused of mistreating the young horse. The consequences of his actions take José on an adventure he never wanted with results he could only dream of.

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