A Sunday Horse has all the elements of a good movie. It’s an underdog story about a girl with no money growing up to compete in a wealthy sport. It’s also the story of a girl and her horse, and the way a special animal friend can inspire us to chase our dreams. Finally, A Sunday Horse brings up the issue of discrimination and shows that race and gender are no basis for success.
A Sunday Horse Synopsis
Debi Walden grew up in a middle-class family. Her dad is a former NFL-football player turned high school football coach who can’t afford to buy her the horse or gear she needs to keep show jumping. So now Debi works in a stable, mucking out stalls and exercising horses. Watching rich owners come in and out of the stable, she grows bitter about the lack of money that hoolds her back from her dreams.
Then she catches the eye of jockey Jonathan Collier. He challenges her to get the chip off her shoulder and chase her dreams. He agrees to teach her if she can get a horse. With renewed hope, Debi finds a horse everyone else has overlooked. She and her horse move to Jonathan’s farm to begin training. Soon, they both catch the attention of other show jumpers. Then Debi begins entering—and winning—competitions.
As Debi competes more, she finds and trains a second “last chance” horse. Her wins and awards on both horses stack up, until a terrible accident ends it all. Debi is left in physical therapy, barely able to walk. As everyone tells Debi to give up show jumping, she has to muster all her strength to get back in the saddle.
My Thoughts on A Sunday Horse
I thoroughly enjoyed A Sunday Horse. Debi is a spunky, likeable girl (although Jonathan was right about the chip on her shoulder) and I loved seeing her fight for her dreams. She truly has a gift for show jumping, and she’s willing to work hard to do it.
It was interesting to see how the people around her reacted to Debi’s dogged determination, from her father (who refused to support her) and Elysse (a rich, privileged show jumper who makes fun of Debi) to Mr Valentine and Lauren (a “trophy wife” and fellow jockey).
I was shocked at the discrimination both Debi and Mr. Valentine (a black man) received in A Sunday Horse. Mr. Valentine is looked down upon by Elysse, who feels “his kind” don’t belong there. Debi is told several times that only men win Olympic gold, so she should let another rider have her horse. (I was a bit disappointed when this comes true.) Both Debi and Mr. Valentine refuse to let anyone tell them they can’t do something because of their race or gender.
While Debi talks about God in the opening scene, and names her horse “The Evangelist” because she feels he’s God’s gift to her, there are few other faith elements in A Sunday Horse. Debi visits a pastor before buying The Evangelist, but that’s the only time she prays in the movie. After her accident, it’s her own determination and her love for her horse that get her back in the saddle. So the pastor scene and the opening comments felt a bit out of place.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, inspirational movie. Because of the negative back-and-forth between Debi and Elysse, I’d recommend caution before watching it with kids. Otherwise, it would be a great way to talk about fighting for your dreams and not stereotyping people for the way they are born.