Many thanks to Judy S., a Bookshare member and volunteer, for this guest post!
If you have a horse-crazy kid, or were one yourself, you’ve undoubtedly discovered the standard horse book fare, ranging from Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion to Dick Francis’ best-selling horse-racing mysteries in Bookshare’s collection. But did you know that Bookshare’s library contains many other hidden gems relating to horses? Here’s ten of my favorite lesser-known horse books, ranging from young-reader chapter books to adult mysteries to non-fiction titles.
For the younger set, don’t miss Kristin Earhart’s Big Apple Barn series. It’s a great introduction to the life of a lesson pony, written from the perspective of the pony itself. Start with the first book in the series, Happy Go Lucky (Big Apple Barn #1).
For slightly older readers, try Doris Gates’ A Morgan for Melinda. Unlike most books of this genre, the story is about what happens when 10-year old Melinda doesn’t want a horse–but her father insists on buying her one anyway.
Jessie Haas’ Uncle Daney’s Way tells a unique story about what happens when teenager Cole’s family takes in his great-uncle Daney. Wheelchair-bound Uncle Daney, who has been paralyzed by a logging accident, arrives with a surprise—his only other family, an elderly logging horse–and the adventures begin!
One of the best books ever written about the dark side of competitive show jumping, Jean Slaughter Doty’s novel Dark Horse, was written for teens, but can be equally enjoyed by adults. Not all horses are sweet, or safe, and Doty’s novel, written with an insider’s knowledge, is both gripping and accurate.
Two other young adult books, Jessie Haas Working Trot and Kim Ablon Whitney’s The Perfect Distance are equally good young adult novels about the world of competitive dressage and show jumping’s Maclay classes, respectively.
Dorothy Lyons’ novel Pedigree Unknown presents another angle on the world of horse showing and breeding, as she tells the story of a young woman who must overcome the prejudices that arise when the worth of individuals—horses and people alike—are judged by pedigree alone.
Two must-read lesser-known gems for adult readers are Rumer Godden’s Dark Horse, and Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar. Dark Horse tells the true story of a convent of Calcutta nuns who offered sanctuary to a runaway thoroughbred racehorse in the 1930s. Tey’s Brat Farrar is a wickedly delicious mystery about an imposter impersonating a long lost heir, beloved by British readers since its publication a generation ago.
Finally, Vicky Hogue-Davies Careers with Horses is a must-read for any teen, or adult, looking for a job in the equine industry. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it covers not only “traditional” jobs in the horse industry, but also lays out ways to have traditionally non-equine careers that tie into the horse industry in everything from accounting to art and trucking to law.
Judy S. is a Bookshare member and volunteer. She’s been reading horse books her entire life, starting with her first alphabet book that she insisted had to have a “P” for pony in it. Her lifelong association with horses includes serving on the Show Committee for one of the Midwest’s largest Class A Morgan and Draft Horse shows, and, before becoming disabled, riding her Morgan mare sidesaddle in the Ringling Brothers/Circus World Great Circus Parade re-enactments in front of millions of spectators. She currently helps other horse enthusiasts who are Bookshare volunteers add horse-themed books to the Bookshare collection through proofreading, and has discovered a way to make horse pedigrees readable for blind members that has been adapted as a standard for Bookshare.