Horse Tack Review

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The Perfect Distance: National Velvet for the 21st Century

Phelps Media Group Inc. International

Horse lovers will devour Kim Ablon Whitney’s new novel, The Perfect Distance, published by Random House. Set at the fictional West Hills, one of the top hunter/jumper show barns in the country, this engaging novel tells the story of seventeen-year-old Francie Martinez and her quest for victory at the equitation finals.

Francie’s father is the barn manager for West Hills, so she’s able to borrow a horse to ride in the equitation and train with the legendary Rob Renaud. Rob has never really taken Francie seriously as a rider and as a result Francie has never believed in herself either. But this year is Francie’s last doing the equitation finals, and she sets out to prove to Rob and to herself that she has what it takes to win.

Meanwhile, Rob has his own problems to deal with, ranging from family to finances to the stress of maintaining his status as a top trainer. While his riders compete at the Maclay Regionals, the Medal Finals, the USET Finals and finally the Maclay, Rob and Francie face important decisions with some tragic consequences that will keep readers turning the pages.

Readers will recognize many characters in this story: Tara, the tough and talented rider who everyone expects to win; Katie, the wealthy girl whose parents want her to ride more than she does; the grooms who have left their families behind for the promise of work. The horses are also characters in their own right—Stretch, the veteran campaigner; Finch, the young horse with lots of promise; Tobey, the talented but temperamental cast-off that Francie rides.

The Perfect Distance is a smart, sensitive story about the nature of competition, the power of self-confidence, and the occasional necessity of compromise. Author Kim Ablon Whitney, a national judge of top shows and a former equitation rider who placed at the finals herself as a junior, lets her knowledge of the circuit shine through in this accurate portrayal. It has been called “an absorbing look into the pressure-packed world of the equitation finals,” by Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist Magazine says the book “gets the universals of serious competition just right.” The Perfect Distance is destined to become a classic horse book, a National Velvet for the 21st Century.

The Perfect Distance is available at bookstores, tack stores, and online. For more information or to read the first chapter, please visit For reviews and other publicity, book available upon request.

The Perfect Distance: A Novel by Kim Ablon Whitney
Knopf Books/Random House
$15.95 (hardcover)
256 pages

PHOTO CREDIT: A Perfect Distance Book Cover
PHOTO BY: Courtesy Of Author