From powerful to ceremonious, many words have been used to describe horses and how we perceive them. For thousands of years, horses have been used for sport and work—but have also been companions for humans. We often feel nostalgic when thinking about these beautiful creatures, who kept us company in the form of both Breyer toy horses and the real creatures we got to know during pony rides.
These eleven books about horses will invoke the same feelings. From Black Beauty to My Friends Flicka, these stories of struggles, triumphs, and the love between humans and their majestic companions will make you want to take a trail ride of your very own.
The Long Ride
Stevie Lake, Lisa Atwood, and Carole Hanson are best friends. Their shared love for horses is what has kept them close for years. But now, as the girls step into high school, they find themselves drifting from their passion and each other. Stevie has grown more attached to her car than her horse, Lisa is struggling with a long-distance relationship, and Carole is busy with her job. Then a terrible accident puts a girl’s life in danger, and the trio is forced to make a challenging decision. Will their friendship be strong enough to withstand the strains put against it?
From the same author who penned with widely popular Saddle Club series. Bonnie Bryant is a master at crafting characters with a deep and compelling love for each other and their horses, revealing the triumphs and tribulations of true friendship.
First published in 1877, Black Beauty is told from the perspective of a horse living in 19th century England. This story was groundbreaking for its time, and continues to blow readers away today. We follow a young colt from his early, carefree days to the difficult times pulling cabs in London. Black Beauty experiences cruelty and kindness in ways that will push readers to think about how animals are treated.
Each chapter reveals a simple and compelling stage in Black Beauty’s life, and contains a lesson about how the mistreatment of horses can forever impact their lives. It’s a timeless classic filled with striking compassion.
Chosen by a Horse
As the title of her memoir implies, Susan Richards was “chosen” by the scrawny, sickly mare that brazenly walked into her stable one day. Having endured a troubled childhood, an abusive marriage, and alcoholism, Susan had found solace in caring for her horses Georgia, Tempo, and Hotshot. But while they helped her through the darkness, it was the maltreated Lay Me Down who would finally place her firmly in the light. Susan’s book largely focuses on the duo’s transcendent bond, paying tribute to the things—or rather, to the animals—that irrevocably change us, but it also tackles subjects like love, loss, addiction, and redemption with grace, honesty, and nuance.
Nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Derby Day is set in rural England where Derby Day is a much anticipated event. Everyone is watching for Tiberius, the champion horse expected to win the day, and several people have betted—hoping to make a few bucks from this horse’s great win. In the days leading up to the race, Taylor explains the controversy regarding the horse. Will he be able to pull off this great feat? To make matters more complicated, there is a mystery hanging over the heads of everyone around. Will they be able to solve it before the race?
Thoughtfully crafter, Derby Day is a book fans of Victorian/period novels will enjoy. The mystery is subtle and intelligent, and the question of whether or not this horse will run in the Derby at Epsom Downs is on everyone’s minds.
Moon Shadow follows Callie—a young girl living in a well-off part of Nevada who has always wanted a mustang of her own. One day, while out riding on her family’s horse, she spots a group of wild horses...and one in particular catches her eye. The horse is Moon Shadow, and she is very pregnant. Callie instantly falls in love. She wants to protect Moon Shadow, but others have a different plan.
At the same time she sees the horses, the Bureau of Land Management is rounding them up with helicopters overhead. They’re planning to offer the horses to the highest bidder. Callie knows that captivity is a great stressor to a healthy wild horse, and it could spell danger for Moon Shadow and her baby. Determined to protect this mother, Callie races against time to stop the horses from being corralled and sold.
Colt is a young boy with a crippling disease. He has spina bifida which makes him unable to get around without using a wheelchair. His parents convince him the best way to overcome his anxieties is through horseback riding. For Colt, who finds comfort in the confines of his wheelchair, the idea of sitting on the back of a horse is utterly terrifying. Then he meets a giant Appaloosa named Liverwurst. Their first meeting is anything but kind. Liverwurst spits in Colt’s face, and the boy is ready to walk away. Convinced by his parents to go back, he finds something he never expected in this huge creature: a friend. Honest, raw, and funny, Colt is a heart-warming story for all ages.
Thirteen-year-old Lily O’Neill is in love with Arabian horses, and longs to be a great endurance ride like her mother. But one year ago, a freak accident with the legendary horse Astra took her mother’s life. Lily’s father sold her favorite horse and forbade her from riding ever again. Then her grandmother comes to stay with them, and convinces Lily’s father to let her work cleaning stalls at a nearby stable where her mother used to work and train. Lily is thrilled - she’ll be working near her mother’s favorite horse, who she believed had the talent to become a national champion.
Now, Lily is determined to compete in the Tevis Cup Endurance Race, but she must first convince her father to let her ride again. Astra tells the story of the impenetrable friendship between a horse and girl.
The Hex Witch of Seldom
Bobbi Le Yandro has always been different, but the extent of her differences doesn’t become clear until her 16th birthday. After her dead father’s journals bring visions of wild horses, a psychic bond forms between herself and the blue-eyed mustang she receives as a gift from her grandfather. But Shane is no ordinary beast—he’s a man trapped in a horse’s body, thanks to the betrayal of a former lover. When he and Bobbi flee their home in the Allegheny Mountains to avoid his castration, they’re taken in by a witch who, like Shane, is part of the Circle of Twelve. But the not-so-benevolent Trickster is also a member—and he believes Shane’s soul will give him the power he so desperately craves. If Bobbi hopes to keep herself and her beloved mustang out of harm’s way, she will have to uncover long-kept secrets about the Twelve and her own shattered family...
Misty of Chincoteague
On Assateague Island, Phantom is the wildest mare everyone wants to catch. Paul and Maureen are two kids who have their hearts set on owning her. They have been trying to round her up and train her for two years, but have failed every time. So on Pony Penning Day, everyone is stunned to see young Paul bring in Phantom and her colt. Now, he and Maureen are faced with the challenge of having enough money to buy them both.
A classic for all ages, this book is loosely based on a true story. Legend has it that wild horses were being transported from Spain to Panama by ship, when a sudden storm prevented them from reaching their destination and landed them on Assateague Island.
My Friend Flicka
When 10-year-old Ken McLaughlin spots Flicka in a field, he knows she’s the yearling he has always wanted. He also knows taming her will be no easy task—the nature of a wild horse runs in her blood. As Ken faces his biggest challenge yet, he'll be forced to choose between taking the risk in taming this horse or giving up on her entirely.
In his day-to-day, Ken can’t seem to do anything right. He is always breaking things at his job, and doesn’t see much of a future for himself. Training Flicka is where he has a second chance to do right. My Friend Flicka is about a boy and his horse learning to not only trust each other, but to trust themselves.
The Black Stallion
The Black Stallion is a survival story of a boy and a wild horse. Alec Ramsey and the Black Stallion are the sole survivors of a horrible shipwreck. Before the crew was lost, everyone thought this stallion to be entirely untamable. Now, as his only companion stranded on an island, Alec is determined to prove them wrong and train this wild beast. Over time, a strong bond develops between the pair. A bond that is put to the test when they are rescued from the island and Alec must fight to keep the stallion. This is the first book in a widely-acclaimed and adventurous series readers have loved for generations.
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