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Read 'Girls and Their Horses' here, before it becomes the thriller of the summer

It will fill the "Big Little Lies"-sized hold in your heart.

Eliza Jane Brazier’s “Girls and Their Horses," out June 6, is shaping up to be one of the surefire thrillers of the summer. Set in the elite world of competitive showjumping, the book begins with a mysterious death at a ranch in southern California, and rewinds to explain what happened, how ... and to whom.

“Girls and Their Horses is the story of a mother who is looking to connect with her daughters through a shared love of horses. They move to an elite community in southern California and dive into the all-consuming horse world — with egotistical trainers, cliquey mean girls and their competitive mothers. They are drawn deeper into this enigmatic world, even as it becomes more and more clear that someone is headed for tragedy,” Brazier tells of the book's plot.

Brazier describes “Girls and Their Horse” as a “dash of ‘Big Little Lies’ and Megan Abbott.”

'Girls and Their Horses' by Eliza Jane Brazier

“It’s also an ensemble so I wanted to make it feel like a TV show, with a large cast and intersecting storylines. There are elements of competition, family dynamics and even culty vibes,” she says.

This book about horse girls is written by a proud one. Brazier’s upbringing riding horses informs the fluent way she speaks about the sport and its charged class dynamics. She grew up outside of Rancho Santa Fe, across the street from an equestrian center. She started riding when she was five, and later worked as an instructor, riding school manager and a head wrangler at a dude ranch.

“I currently have a horse in my backyard to play on and am training in showjumping. EVERYTHING about this world interests me. There is always something new to learn. It’s a lifelong journey for me,” she says.

Like her last novel, “Good Rich People,” the book is a sharply written and deftly plotted glimpse into the lives and leisures of the 1 percent. As someone who has grown up riding horses, Brazier was well acquainted with the wealth inequality at the forefront of the sport.

“The cost of horse ownership and competition is prohibitive, and it’s also very difficult to make a living working in the industry. But people who truly love horses can’t (and shouldn’t) live their lives without them, so they make enormous sacrifices just to be around them. Similar to what we are seeing in society now, the horse industry doesn’t have much of a middle class, and I think we should all ask ourselves what that means on a human level,” she says.

All of those dynamics combine to fuel the plot — which you can read a snippet of below.

Read an excerpt of 'Girls and Their Horses'

Heather was at the end of her rope with Maple and the horse. She was getting desperate. She had gotten it into her head that it might help to talk to Kieran about the situation.

He was supposed to be the horse expert. Plus, she was a little annoyed with him. She felt like he had been ignoring them since they purchased the horse, as if his work was done. Or worse, as if they weren’t worthy of his attention.

Pamela advised her not to. “This really isn’t Kieran’s forte. Talk to Amy. She’s Maple’s trainer.”

But Amy wasn’t even letting Maple canter. She had just started to let the girl off the lunge line when Maple’s backsliding triggered a return to the round pen.

Amy wasn’t pushing her, and Maple was barely and rarely improving. It was time, Heather thought, for a stronger hand.

It happened with horses sometimes. They needed to be pushed. Heather remembered that at her old barn, whenever the lesson horses acted up with one of the students, trainers would jump on them and force them to behave.

Heather was trying to be less controlling, but the truth was

sometimes you had to make someone do a thing. Maple would realize it wasn’t all that scary. Heather knew her daughter. If Maple wasn’t pushed, she would never ride the horse, and all of Heather’s efforts would have been for nothing.

Heather went to Kieran’s office when Pamela wasn’t looking. She knocked on the door, and he snapped, “Who the fuck is that?”

Heather walked in, drawn toward conflict as usual. “Oh.” He seemed to back off. “What do you want?”

His office was dusty and dark. The yellowing blinds were drawn. A fat gray computer sat in one corner. Piles of sloppy paperwork and crushed horse show ribbons were littered across the cabinets.

Kieran sat behind a large desk, filling out paperwork.

Heather was a little shocked by how grimy his office was. “I wanted to get your thoughts on something,” she said.

Kieran grunted but seemed open to the exchange. Pamela had been wrong.

“Sit down.” He directed Heather to a black office chair that creaked when she perched on it. He raised his eyebrows. “What’s the issue?”

“It’s just ... my daughter. I think she’s a little scared of the horse.”

“She’s not scared of the horse.” He turned to his desk, went back to filling out forms.

“I’m sorry?”

Heather was annoyed. Obviously, he hadn’t been paying attention. Maple was terrified of the horse.

“She’s not scared of the horse. She’s scared of you.” “I don’t think—”

“You just dropped seven figures on a horse for her. You’re here watching her all the time, commenting every time she does something wrong. Do you know the kind of pressure that is for a kid? She’s scared of you.”

Heather shouldn’t have been surprised by that accusation. It was basically the same thing Piper had told her back in Amarillo: Heather was too invested, too wrapped up in her daughter’s life.

“I don’t ... well ...” Heather scanned the room. “What should I do?”

“Stop wanting it so bad.” He scooped up the paperwork and swiveled his chair, then started making copies on an ancient machine. “You know, people think we make horses do things. They think we force them to let people ride them, to jump over fences. But the truth is you can’t make a horse do anything.”

He finished his copies, then spun back to face her. “I had this

horse once. It was my dream horse. I sank everything into it. I was gonna win on this horse, you know? I was gonna go all the way. We were nearly there. I was so happy. We were partners in every sense of the word.

“Then one day, I took him out on a course, and he refused one jump. I could force him over, but it was a fight. I thought, Okay, bad day, right? Next day, same jump. And the day after. And the day after. Every day, it was a battle to get him over that one jump, until it wasn’t just that one jump. It was this other jump, too. And that one. And then he didn’t want to go into the arena. He would plant his feet and fight me for hours.

“I had him vetted, six different vets. It wasn’t physical. It was mental. He didn’t want to do it anymore. I fought that horse every damn day. I didn’t want to give up. This is a good horse, I said. This is the best horse I ever had.”

He stood up, preparing to leave.

“You coming?” he said at the door.

Heather was mystified. “What happened to the horse?” “Ahh. He’s in a field somewhere, being an asshole.”

Heather wasn’t sure what was happening, but Kieran seemed to want her to follow him, so she did. They went to the head groom.

Kieran had a private word with him. Then he went to Amy, said her lesson with Maple was canceled.

“Why?” She glanced at Heather, seemingly afraid she’d done something wrong.

“Because I’m teaching her,” Kieran replied.

Heather felt her heart spread. This was a good thing. This was what she wanted. So why did she feel scared?

They found Maple in the cleaning bay, working on a bridle. Vida and Effie were with her. They all jumped to attention when Kieran approached.

He walked up to Maple. He looked her in the eye. “You ready to ride your horse?”

She opened her mouth and said nothing. Her eyes, tinged with mutiny, drifted to her mom.

“Don’t look at her. Look at me.”

She did. “Okay.” Her response wasn’t exactly rousing.

Kieran told Heather to sit on the far side of the patio. He told her she could watch, but: “You cannot talk. Not a word. Or it’s over.

Do you understand?”

Heather nodded and did as he had directed. Pamela grabbed a seat beside her. June grabbed another. At first, Heather wasn’t sure if she was even allowed to talk to them.

“I heard Maple is having a lesson with Kieran?” Pamela said. Heather nodded. Word had gotten around fast. A small crowd was forming. Heather wished the other boarders wouldn’t watch. She felt somehow that she was the one on display. Even Douglas was there, straddling the fence.

Maple mounted the horse and walked into the arena. Kieran closed the gate behind her. There were two other horses already in the ring. Heather wondered if they were trapped now.

Commotion took five steps into the arena, then came to a stop. Heather thought she could see Maple shaking, even at that distance. She could feel her daughter’s panic inside herself, feel her pain, but her empathy didn’t help Maple, she realized. It didn’t make her daughter feel less.

Heather took a deep breath.

Everything is going to be okay, she told herself. Just let go.

“Walk,” Kieran instructed. Maple played with her reins. “Why aren’t you walking?”

“I’m ... ” And then Maple drifted off. Said nothing. There were tears in her eyes.

Heather looked around her, embarrassed. That was her kid. “You’re not scared of riding a horse.” Kieran climbed onto the

fence and sat down. “You’re scared of people watching you ride a horse. But do you know what none of these assholes will tell you? They’re scared, too. All the time. Everyone’s scared. Not of horses. We love our horses.

“We’re scared that we’re shit at riding them. Shit at taking care of them. Monsters for using them. We love our horses, but we’re scared they don’t love us back. Just walk.”

Maple started walking.

“What every horse person is looking for— Maple, are you listening?”

Her eyes had drifted over the crowd. They snapped back at his word.

“What every horse person is looking for is proof that their horse loves them. If he picks up a trot when I ask, he loves me. If he stops when I say stop, he loves me. If he jumps when I say jump, he loves me. Now pick up a trot.”

Maple did. The horse trotted serenely beneath her. She rose up and down with the motion.

Heather felt a gush of relief, sending fireflies through her skin.

Maple was doing it. She was riding her horse. “Faster,” Kieran said.

Maple trotted faster, all the way around the arena. “Change direction.”

Maple trotted twice around the arena in the other direction. “Now walk.”

She walked.

“Pick up a canter.”

Heather felt her breath dive inside her. Maple hadn’t been allowed to canter once since she’d started riding at RSFE. She’d been doing so good, but this would be too far. Now was the moment it would all fall apart.

Maple collected the horse. She turned his head to the inside. She put her outside leg back. The horse picked up a canter. Maple flew past Heather, looking like Queen Boadicea.

Kieran made her canter in the other direction. The horse was perfect. The audience was rapt. He let her walk.

“Now tell me: Does your horse love you?"