Marnie Clark is overjoyed to be given a horse and the associated tack by a woman in her town, a woman whose own daughter has died in a car crash. The horse, with the unlikely name of Mrs Whitlam (often called Maggie for short), a beautiful, big Clydesdale – bold, fearless and able to jump anything. She used to belong to the lady’s daughter and her mother can no longer bear to have the horse around. Through the kindness of the man who runs the local riding school, Marnie has a place to agist her horse and to store her gear. Sadly she finds the pony club unwelcoming as she encounters subtle racism and snobbery from the other girls.
Marnie and Mrs Whitlam quickly become close companions, and Marnie enjoys riding her horse through the bush and along the beach. Her mother will not allow her to go to the beach alone so her brothers have to follow her. She enjoys a feeling of freedom and exhilaration as she rides Mrs Whitlam into the water. While at the beach, she sees a distressed mother and realises that there is a baby floating in the water. With the help of Mrs Whitlam and a surfboard rider, she rescues and revives the child. Her brothers assist by riding to their aunt’s house to ring for help.
The surfer is a boy from her school who queries her ethnicity, saying he thought she was Indian, not Aboriginal. His family later invites Marnie’s to their house for a barbecue and new friendships are forged for both Marnie and her family.
Bruce Pascoe, the author of many books including Dark Emu and Young Dark Emu, is a Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man.