Boys  can tell a lot about a person by how they play sports. If boys were in charge of personnel departments they would conduct job interviews by having the candidates play volleyball. Boys choosing sides in a pickup game are acutely aware of each other’s skill level. High drama is when a new guy shows up and has to audition for his place in the batting order. So, in boy’s stories, action is not just exciting, especially if it involves horses or other challenging outdoor sports, it tells much about the character and moves the plot along. Look for books and stories that play off skills and skill assessment rather than relationships. Here are a couple of examples.

Background: Nick Finazzo is impressed by Bobby Petzer to whom he has loaned his special  horse, Prince, for a Gymkhana event. Wa-Tonka! camp cowboys

He jogged Prince into a gentle canter in a small tight circle, almost like he was winding up a spring. Finally, on the third time around, at the precise moment when they were aimed straight down the course, he lowered the reins and Prince blurred by, heading down, coming back.

But what Nick really saw was the rider. In slow motion. It was his body. The way he moved with the horse. Helping him. Talking to him with his weight, posture and legs.

 In another story, Nick enjoys watching a loudmouth bully try to windsurf for the first time. Riding the Waves, Lake Michigan Cowboy.

 Roy bent to grab the up-haul rope and braced himself like an anchor-man in a tug-of-war contest. Muscles bulged – arms, thighs, upper back – fighting the sail’s grip on the water surface. Little by little, the sail inched upward. Roy kept pulling. The sail popped free. Roy rolled over backwards pulling the sail on top of himself.

Nick smiled to himself, waiting for the water-logged carpenter to reappear. Not everything’s about muscles. You’re fighting it big guy. Like riding a bike. It’s not about strength. You just have to get the hang of it.

Roy slapped at the water in frustration.