The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse
The Hunt for the Heavenly Horse is a YA novel set along the ancient Silk Road. It’s about a determined boy named Tagan who sets out to recapture his horse from the Chinese army after they seize 3,000 prized horses from his kingdom. After Tagan is taken hostage by the army, he begins planning the rescue his horse. But before Tagan can escape with his horse the army is divided in half and sent on separate routes back to China. Tagan can’t rescue his horse until the armies reunite, but can he survive the sandstorms and near starvation on the journey? More brutal than this is Tagan’s treatment by his guard, Shan, who regards him as a barbarian. Tagan earns Shan’s grudging respect through his skill with horses and for his knowledge of the desert. As the depleted armies reconnect, Tagan waits to learn the fate of his horse.
Tagan had imagined himself and his horse winning the game of Kok boru many times, but he never knew how hard it would be to steady himself on the bare back of a galloping horse while desperately trying to hold onto a goat carcass by one leg. He and Kutcha had practiced on the open grassland with Kutcha galloping in wide ovals and cutting quick turns while Tagan carried a sack weighted with sand. He had never considered how heavy the goat would be even though it had been gutted before the game began. The goat had also been skinned, making the carcass slick and hard to grasp. Tagan had never dreamed that his horse, Kutcha, would be spooked by the goat’s other three legs that jangled against her side. Tagan had hoped to hoist the goat onto his lap the way the older experienced riders did, but instead he gripped a slippery leg above the hoof as the rest of the carcass thumped against his horse. Kutcha mistook the prodding against her ribs as Tagan spurring her to run faster. Kutcha would have galloped harder anyway to keep ahead of the pack of riders on horseback coming up behind her. Even though Kutcha needed to stay ahead of the avalanche of mounted horses closing in around her Tagan was tipping to one side and was about to slide off of Kutcha’s back.
Give up the goat and stay on your horse, Tagan told himself.