Books About Horses

In a recent email, I told my readers a bit about my childhood obsession with horses and asked them to share titles of some of their favorite books about horses. Some of their titles were on my list, too. Others prompted a forehead smacking how-did-I-forget-that-one response. Here are the 5 most frequently mentioned books, plus my personal favorite. How many of these classics have you read?

Whether you check them out from your local library, purchase from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, or purchase through these Amazon links (yes, I am an Amazon Associate), these are all wonderful and highly-recommended books!

By a wide margin, Misty of Chincoteague was the most frequently mentioned book. I’m not surprised. I read it, and reread it, many times.

“Nobody could capture the Phantom. She was the wildest mare on Assateague Island. They said she was like the wind, that the white “map” on her shoulders was her mark of freedom.

Paul and Maureen Beebe had their hearts set on owning her. They were itching to buy and tame her, and worked hard to earn the money that she would cost. But the roundup men had tried to capture her and for two years she had escaped them….

Pony Penning Day holds a surprise for everyone, for Paul not only brings in the Phantom, but her newborn colt as well. Can Paul and Maureen possibly earn enough to buy them both?”

Yep, I read Stormy, Misty’s Foal, too. In fact, I still have my very-worn childhood copy.

“In this classic story by award-winning author Marguerite Henry, Misty fights for her life and the life of her unborn foal.

A raging storm slashes across Assateague and Chincoteague islands. Water is everywhere! The wild ponies and the people must battle for their lives.

In the midst of the storm, Misty—the famous mare of Chincoteague—is about to give birth. Paul and Maureen are frantic with worry as the storm rages on…Will Misty and her colt survive?”

Black Beauty is the first book I made me cry as I read it. Oh, how my heart ached for Black Beauty. And looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Black Beauty is a perennial children’s favourite, one which has never been out of print since its publication in 1877. It is a moralistic tale of the life of the horse related in the form of an autobiography, describing the world through the eyes of the creature. In taking this anthropomorphic approach, the author Anna Sewell broke new literary ground and her effective storytelling ability makes it very easy for the reader to accept the premise that a horse is recounting the exploits in the narrative.

The gentle thoroughbred, Black Beauty, is raised with care and is treated well until a vicious groom injures him. The damaged horse is then sold to various masters at whose hands he experiences cruelty and neglect. After many unpleasant episodes, including one where he becomes a painfully overworked cab horse in London, Black Beauty finally canters towards a happy ending. Although Anna Sewell’s classic is set firmly in the Victorian period, its message is universal and timeless: animals will serve humans well if they are treated with consideration and kindness.

There have been many film and television adaptations of the story, but it is only the novel that captures the authentic voice of the central character.”

The Black Stallion is another much-loved book, and with good reason.

“First published in 1941, Walter Farley’s best-selling novel for young readers is the triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. From Alec Ramsay and the Black’s first meeting on an ill-fated ship to their adventures on a desert island and their eventual rescue, this beloved story will hold the rapt attention of readers new and old.

This book has been selected as a Common Core State Standards Text Exemplar (Grades 4-5, Stories) in Appendix B.”

Are you feeling all nostalgic yet? National Velvet will do that to you!

“The book is one that horse lovers of every age cannot fail to enjoy.” — The New York Times
“Humorous, charming, National Velvet is a little masterpiece.” — Time
“Put on your not-to-be-missed list.” — The New Yorker
A butcher’s daughter in a small Sussex town ends her nightly prayers with “Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!” The answer to 14-year-old Velvet Brown’s plea materializes in the form of an unwanted piebald, raffled off in a village lottery, who turns out to be adept at jumping fences — exactly the sort of horse that could win the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.
Richly atmospheric of rural life in England between the World Wars, National Velvet has enchanted generations of readers since its 1935 debut. The heroine’s grit and determination, backed by the support of her eccentric and loving family, offer an inspiring example of the struggles and rewards of following a dream.”

As much as I enjoy reading stories, it seems I have always been drawn to nonfiction and reference books. Album of Horses is my favorite childhood book. In fact, when I started writing this post, I went to my bookcase to get my copy and savor those stories and gorgeous illustrations again. Then I panicked because I couldn’t find the book. Then my granddaughter reassured me she had it. Phew. I could relax and breathe again (but I think the next time I visit her, I will also have to visit that book.)

“From award-winning author Marguerite Henry comes a classic reference work about horses and their origins. How did the Morgan horse get its name?
What are the differences between a Belgian and a Clydesdale?
Why are the Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian, and Godolphin Arabian so important?

Find the answers to these and many other intriguing questions in Marguerite Henry’s Album of Horses. The award-winning author of Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind describes in vivid detail the hardworking Shire, the elegant Lipizzan, the spirited Mustang, and many more.Each description is paired with a full color illustration by Wesley Dennis. This keepsake edition is a gorgeous addition to any collection of Henry’s books and a favorite for years to come!”

What others would you add to the list? Enjoy these classics again, and share them with the young readers in your life!

If you enjoy horses, you will also enjoy these History Quick stories that feature horses.

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