I think that there are some nice touches here and there and that the tone of this piece is good but it seems to me that the author is overdoing it a bit. Some of the expressions come across as awkward. The "hay-fresh breath" was a bit too much for me. The staring scene isn't compelling. I just can't picture a horse staring. I think that for a scene to be successful, it has to start as close to the point of conflict as possible. Here it seems that the scene is an indulgence rather than a plot-building device.
I know people advice to use strong verbs but "jabbed the boot" stood out as as clunky. I'd suggest revising this scene's purpose.
I can't be target audience, LOL. Don't know how young girls would react, but that notwithstanding, the writing felt awkward. Agree with prev. comment re: dialogue. Needs to be more compelling.
Dear Mr. Rhamey:
Robyn needs to know her terminology and/or do her research before writing, let alone submitting, a manuscript. A more accurate word choice for the horse hair that she describes as a ‘mane’, (“ Her stare pierced through her black mane that hung down to her eyelashes.”) is forelock: A lock of hair that grows from or falls on the forehead, between the ears.
One bit of dialogue bothered me: “I was trying to win my stare-off, until you disturbed me.” It sounded a bit formal for a young girl. "Until you bugged me/'til you barged in booger-brains/etc." Helps the reader get a feel for her age. After that, I wondered why she giggled? Was something the boy said particularly funny? As a sometimes-viewer of Phineas and Ferb, the line made me chuckle because my daughter imitates it with maximum cuteness, but that's just a very personal reaciton. Didn't see why it made the girl in the story laugh. Wasn't my favorite start, but then kids are forgiving. --John
I considered my 11 yo daughter when reading and voted yes. She would have liked the opening with the staring contest with the horse. I think she would allow a few pages for tension to develop. Well done.