The TV series, Heartland, is based on the book series of the same name by Lauren Brooke. I've not read the books. Amazon notes that the books are for ages 9 and up. Well, let me tell you, this 50 year old girl is hooked! Even my husband has been watching it! There is something for everyone in the characters and the storylines.
The series began, and I don't think I'm spoiling anything, as Amy, the young heroine, and her mom, are trying to rescue what they believe is an abused horse.On the way home, with horse, Spartan, in the trailer, there's an accident. Amy's mom is killed. Spartan is traumatized. Amy blames herself for her mom's death because she begged her mom to go after the horse. Amy wrestles with the "if only" and eventually starts working to bring Spartan out of his trauma to ease her own pain.
Amy's mom is a well known horse trainer/horse whisperer, and believed Amy had the gift for horse training/whispering as well. Amy had never trained horses on her own, always with her mom's guidance. The story moves on as various characters are introduced. Grandpa, the gruff, no nonsense cowboy who realizes ranch life is changing, but longs for the old days. Lou,the older sister who gave up a high profile job in New York to help out at the ranch after the tragedy. Will she stay? Will she go back to New York? Mallory, the sweet neighbor girl who sometimes gets in the way but means well. Ty the handsome, bad boy, trying to make right his past wrongs by working at the ranch. He's not so good at horseback riding and no one lets him forget it. As the seasons roll on, more characters emerge. Lou and Amy's father, Tim, a rodeo star who's trying to connect with his daughters again, decides to settle down close by. Ashley, the rich girl who's mom owns the local riding facility. Kit, the barrel racing gal who tends to come between Amy and Kyle because neither one of them want to admit they have feelings for each other. Caleb, the aspiring rodeo bronc rider who decides Amy is worth his time, but just can't quite keep from lying to her.
The horses are always a centerpiece of the story, in some way, which I love.The show was done intelligently. It's respectful but not sappy. It's clean without being preachy. The young people are up against various trials like most teens and find ways to work it out. They get into trouble but the consequences are always dealt with in an appropriate way.
There aren't many TV shows worthy of praise these days but I give the highest marks to Heartland. If you can't get the the TV show, the DVD's are available at Amazon.com as is the book series.