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These suggested questions are included to enhance your group’s reading of Beauty’s Son.

1. Based upon what you learn about Beauty’s Son in the first chapter, what do you think one theme of this novel is likely to be? Are there any interactions between horses and people in the first chapter which illustrate this theme?

2. Early in the novel, Son has this to say about communication between people and horses: “Some people assume we can’t understand anything; others think we can understand a lot.” Why do you think some people assume horses are “dumb beasts,” and yet others think they are sensitive, intelligent beings? Which do you think and why?

3. Everyone who encounters the chestnut mare Respect responds strongly to her. What is it about Respect which commands attention? Mrs. Winchester says, “When half of her fire turns from anger to the work, she’s one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden.” Explain what Mrs. Winchester means.

4. The horses in Beauty’s Son are distinct individuals. Evelyn, the instructor at River Rock, says of the horses in her stable: “All of these horses could tell us some stories, if they could talk.” Think about the different horses you have met. What stories do you think they could tell? How do horses tell us their stories without using human language?

5. Tiffany Alexander is a rider who expects her horses to perform well even though she doesn’t know how to ride well. Have you ever known a rider like Tiffany Alexander? How does learning to ride well help you communicate with horses?

6. Toddy and Kurt are both jumper riders. Compare and contrast their attitudes toward their horses. Think of a show rider you admire, in whatever discipline. Read an interview with them, and learn what they have to say about riding and training their horses.

7. It is said that every time you ride a horse, you are training that horse. Explain what is meant by this statement.

8. Son is horrified by Respect’s death. How might Respect’s life have gone differently? Do you think there are “rogue horses,” horses who are just born bad? If not, explain how such horses are created.

9. The only place the horses don’t speak to each other is at the rental stable. Why do you think they don’t communicate with each other there?

10. Some of the people Son encounters are kind to him. How do even some of the minor characters, such as Kelly at “Junior’s Family Farm,” play an important role in Son’s life?

11. Have you ever watched horses interact with each other? If so, in what ways do they communicate? And in what ways do they communicate with people? If you could talk to a horse you’ve met—or to one you might meet in the future—what would you say?

12. Have you read Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty? If so, in what ways does the world of contemporary horses contrast with Black Beauty’s world? How does it compare?

13. The book’s epigraph is an old English saying: “Show me your horse, and I’ll tell you who you are.” How do we learn who the novel’s human characters are by meeting their horses?

14. Does the filly Nicki and Adam adopt from the auction remind you of an earlier character? Why is the fate of that filly likely to differ from that previous character’s fate?

Beauty's Son
                      - A book on horses

© 2013 Anne H. Wood and Brian Keesling.  All rights reserved.