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August 2019
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Horse Library

Sometimes I get asked about what horse books and magazines I recommend. So here’s a list because I often have trouble remembering them all when I’m put on the spot.


My favorite horse magazine.

A magazine I loved as a kid– great for its general, multi-discipline information

I suspect I would have loved this magazine if it had been around when I was younger.

I’ve never subscribed to this magazine, but I have been known to borrow it from friends who do.

Fiction (for kids)


My mom first introduced me to the first three of these books.  In fact, I think the copies I read were hers originally.  She did a good job indoctrinating us to love animals (the book Beautiful Joe: An Autobiography of a Dog still breaks my heart when I think about it… but it’s not a horse book)

Misty of Chincoteague (and the rest of Marguerite Henry’s books about the Chincoteague ponies)

My Friend Flicka (which is wonderful, has a male protaganist [!!] and is not at all like the Tim McGraw movie!)

Black Beauty

The Black Stallion (and pretty much all of Walter Farley’s horse books)

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.  Probably everyone is familiar with this book now that the movie is out.  One of the great things about the book though, is it’s told from Joey (the horse’s) point of view.  You can read my full review for Horse Nation HERE.

I emphatically DO NOT recommend The Red Pony (John Steinbeck) for kids.  You can read all about why in my review for Horse Nation HERE.


The Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant

Everyday Friends by Lucy Diggs:  I distinctly remember telling my 6th grade reading group teacher that this would *always* be my favorite book.  He begged to differ.  I believe we were reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea in class at the time, and it was *not* my favorite.

The A-Circuit Series (by Georgina Bloomberg) is sort of like The Saddle Club for teens.  You can read my review of the second in the series, My Favorite Mistake: An A Circuit Novel (Circuit Novels), HERE.

Some of my students tell me the Saddle Wise series is really good and incorporates Natural Horsemanship ideas.

Blaze of Glory (by m. garzon) is a teen romance set in the jumper and polo worlds.  I think it’s best for older teens or adults because it deals with some pretty serious issues (abuse, drug use, sex, loss/grief/depression).  You can read my full review HERE.

Middle Grade Fiction (short chapter books with illustrations)

Raja, Story of a Racehorse (by Anne Hambleton) is told from the perspective of Raja, a thoroughbred race horse.  The story chronicles the life any failed racehorse might experience (but with a happy ending, of course!).  You can read my full review HERE.

Pidgy’s Surprise: The Little Pony with a Big Heart (by Jeanne Mellin) has wonderful illustrations and is a cute, wholesome story.  You can read my full review HERE.

Picture Books

The Girl Who Loved Horses I loved this book as a kid.  The illustrations are striking and the story is told as American Indian myth about a girl who turns into a horse:  exactly what any HorseGirl daydreams about.

Shadow: The Curious Morgan Horse (Morgan Horse Series) This is a cute story with great horse illustrations.  You can read my full review on Horse Nation HERE.

A is for Apple: A Horsey Alphabet This is a fabulous alphabet book, perfect for indoctrinating your favorite little people into a love of horses. You can read my full review for Horse Nation HERE.


Fiction (for adults)

I have to say, I’ve often been disappointed by the “horse books” I’ve read that were geared towards adults… but here are some I’ve read and mostly enjoyed…

The Hearts of Horses I loved Molly Gloss’ first novel, The Jump-Off Creek and this book is fabulous too.  You can read my full review on Horse Nation HERE.

The Horse Whisperer

Horse Heaven (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) (I have read other things, essays mainly, Jane Smiley writes about horses– she is an avid horse person herself– and have enjoyed them much more than this book.  She also writes books for kids that sound perfect for the horse-crazy).

Horseplay:  A Novel (really, this book just proves how desperate I get sometimes to read horse-y fiction).  You can read my review at Horse Nation HERE.

Riding Lessons: A Novel You can read my review of Sara Gruen’s (the author of Water for Elephants) first novel HERE.  It also has a sequel called Flying Changes, which I haven’t read yet.

Derby Day: A Novel You can read my review of this Booker Prize nominee HERE.  Let’s just say this is one of the few times I maybe sorta kinda disagree with the Booker Prize committee’s selection (the other time being Flaubert’s Parrot).


Non Fiction

Seabiscuit: An American Legend This book is fabulous.  I think it reads more like fiction than non-fiction– meaning it is very plot and character-driven.  Which is not to say that there isn’t tons of great information about the time period and the racing industry, just that it’s packaged in a way that is very accessible.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation This book reminds me a lot of Seabiscuit, except Snowman was a slaughter-bound ex-plowhorse (not a race horse) when Harry de Leyer rescued him.  Together they became show-jumping champions, which is pretty darn fabulous.  You can read my full review of the book for Horse Nation HERE.

Beyond the Homestretch: What I’ve Learned from Saving Racehorses Lynn Reardon is living one of my dreams:  she founded LOPE, a racehorse rescue organization, and wrote a book about the lessons she learned as a result.  It’s a breezy, humorous (and touching), fast-paced read.  You can read my full review for Horse Nation HERE


Books about Riding

The United States Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship: Basics for Beginners – D Level (Book 1)
A great all-around book for those who want a solid foundation of information about riding and horse care.  When I was a kid, this was all in one book, but now there’s a manual corresponding to each of the Pony Club’s ratings levels.  Start with the D-level and go from there…

Hunter Seat Equitation George Morris is pretty much the guru in the hunter/jumper world.  He’s a stickler for the details, and this book has exercises to really help refine your position.

Centered Riding (A Trafalgar Square Farm Book) Sally Swift has come up with so many great images to help explain riding concepts.  I borrow her imagery all the time.

Books About Training

Beyond the Track: Retraining the Thoroughbred from Racecourse to Riding Horse by Anna Morgan Ford covers everything you’ll need to know about selecting, transitioning, and re-training an OTTB.  It’s also a great resource for general information.  You can read my full review HERE.

Right from the Start: Create a Sane, Soft, Well-Balanced Horse Michael Shaffer’s approach combines many of  Natural Horsemanship ideas into dressage type training.  I have found his ideas, especially about the Natural Circle, so very helpful.

Mark Todd’s Cross-Country Handbook Pb This book is more general than it’s title might imply.  It has a great section on selecting an eventer (as a teen I pored over the pictures in this section), and also includes information on feeding and conditioning.

Practical Eventing, Revised Edition Sally O’Connor lays out a simple, clear, methodical approach to starting and young horse and getting ready to take it to its first competition.  I’ve had this book for years and still refer to it.

Debbie McDonald Riding Through: An Olympic Medalist’s Lessons on Life and Dressage Debbie McDonald is an inspiring rider and this book combines her story of how she reached the upper levels of dressage with her approach to training.

For Kids

Horse:  The Essential Guide for Young Equestrians This book presents information about breeds, colors, horse and saddle parts, but the best part is the way it’s presented:  fold outs, envelopes to open, tons of illustrations.  It’s probably best for kids 6-10, but then again, I’m much older and I thought it was really cool.  I would have loved this book as a kid.  You can read my full review for Horse Nation HERE

Books Currently on My Stack:

Rimfire by Ellen Feld


Books I Want to Read:

Pippa Funnell:  The Autobiography

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