By C.J. Cherryh
Stranded on a probably utopian planet and threatened via the telepathic skills of local animals, human colonists turn into depending on their Nighthorses, the single ones who can shape a telepathic bond with their riders, but if human emotion spreads to the entire horses, chaos erupts. Reprint.
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Extra info for Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1)
And maybe it was true: they were so close the scent-image came to them on the wind from their backs, and strange riders were almost certainly back there—it was too persistent to be anything Cloud just remembered. But the wind came to them treacherously as it did in the foothills, reversing its ordinary direction in places, coming almost east to west, when nearly the opposite was the rule on the road—and they could only trust the wind would shift again. A human knew that. He wasn’t sure Cloud did.
He’d not made friends in camp. The juniors from Shamesey district, even the rider kids, were all too touchy, too protective. Everything in juniors felt raw, exposed, feelings left open to every passing opinion—and he was, right now, scared of this Jonas Westman in the same way he’d been scared going to Stuart with his questions. And as careful as he’d been, Stuart had had to slap him down, and remind him to mind his own edges, just the same as this man was telling him—this man who’d learned everything about the aching ambition of his young, debt-plagued life in two short seconds, while he still knew nothing whatsoever about Jonas Westman except that he called Guil Stuart a friend and was, if things went wrong up there, willing to shoot Stuart and Stuart’s horse both.
Cloud wanted to take him up to the High Wild where Cloud had come from—Cloud hated Shamesey, hated the cattle, hated the town and hated the smell and the crowding; and that town was all his very junior, townbred rider could give him. He wasn’t sure Cloud wasn’t listening now. He felt that all-over tingle of longing that wiped out every clear consideration to the contrary. ” Jonas Westman asked. “You got leave to take? ” Rider conversations ran like that, when the horses were too close, mediating half of it.
Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1) by C.J. Cherryh