A lot of the people that taught me how to love reading weren't Christian, or at least they weren't overtly Christian. That meant that several of them had things to say about allegory that... weren't very positive. And in some ways, I can't really blame them.
An allegory is a story that is explicitly a parable for the spiritual journey. The best-known and most archetypical allegory is of course The Pilgrim's Progress, which was written by John Bunyan in the late 17th century - that's more than 300 years ago. Suffice to say it wasn't a very subtle story. The main character's name was Christian, he encounters people like "Pliable," "Formality," and "Mr. Legality" on the way to the Celestial City.
If it was any more transparent, the book would be made of glass.
It's the heavy-handedness of the story that can be off-putting for modern audiences, and many modern allegories aren't very much more subtle than their ancient ancestor. But not all of them are like that.
A great deal of Christian fiction today can be classified as allegory, as the reader is meant to empathize with the main character and apply their lessons to the real-life spiritual journey waiting for them outside the book's covers.
The book we're looking at today is an allegory, and a very short one. You can generally read the whole thing in an hour or two, and I found it delightful, at least in part because I love horses, and the main character - all the characters, actually, are horses.
Now, the major complaint against allegory that I've heard over the years is usually that it's not very fun. It spends so much time warning you against the "dangers of the world" and instructing you on what's morally right and proper that they forget to actually have an engaging story.
And... okay, fair. That's a pitfall that any literature with an overt message might fall into. Take a look at some of those mindlessly depressing dystopian novels from the Cold War and tell me they didn't forget to have an engaging story under all those blatant "Please Don't Blow Up the World or Give It to the Fascists, Please" warning signs.
I won't say that Dark Horse is the perfect allegory, or that it doesn't have its own pitfalls, but I will say that I really liked reading it, and I was more than happy to give it 5/5 stars.
The message is clear without being overwhelming, the characters have personality, even though they're not around for long, and they're horses. :D
If you liked books like Watership Down or The Firebringer with talking animals that aren't more than animals, I think you'd probably like this little book.