The best books that capture the bond between horses and people

Who am I?

I have been mad about horses since I was tiny, and as soon as I started to read I devoured every pony book I could lay my hands on. My love of pony books led to a life-long passion for horses and I still ride every week. When I began writing fiction a decade ago, I decided to write the kind of pony books I loved reading when I was a child. Here I am, almost twenty books later, spending my days dreaming of horses, still a pony-mad girl at heart! 

I wrote...

The Lost Pony of Riverdale

By Amanda Wills,

Book cover of The Lost Pony of Riverdale

What is my book about?

The last thing Poppy wants is to move to an old cottage on Dartmoor. But life at Riverdale changes for the better when she discovers a half-wild pony living on the doorstep. Could this be Cloud Nine, a notorious pony with a harrowing past? Who has been keeping his secrets all these years? And how can Poppy win his trust and bring him home to Riverdale?

The Lost Pony of Riverdale is the first in The Riverdale Pony Stories, the ultimate feel-good series for horse lovers everywhere.

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The books I picked & why

Dream of Fair Horses

By Patricia Leitch,

Book cover of Dream of Fair Horses

Why did I love this book?

Pony-mad Gillian dreams of riding in the Horse of the Year Show at Wembley.

Problem is, she doesn’t have a pony. And that would be that but for the fact that she finds one in a field near her new home. And this pony – Perdita – is perfect.

How I dreamed of finding my own perfect pony, just like Gill, as I raced through this book as a child. I was as excited as she was when Perdita’s owner offers her the chance to ride the grey mare. I was with her every step of the way as they work their socks off to qualify for Wembley. And I bawled my eyes out when the story didn’t end the way I’d hoped.

Because this tale of love and loss, of winning and losing, is a timeless classic that should be top of the To Be Read pile for all horse lovers.

By Patricia Leitch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dream of Fair Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'In all my life, I had never seen anything as beautiful as this grey pony ... '
Gill Caridia and her family are on the move. Gill's father writes the sort of book that literary papers love, but which few people actually buy. And then he writes a detective story that sells so well he buys back the house in the countryside where he grew up. It means change for all the children, but for Gill it means the chance to find horses, and not just horses but to ride at Wembley. But Gill learns that no dream comes without…

The Black Stallion

By Walter Farley,

Book cover of The Black Stallion

Why did I love this book?

This is a classic tale of a wild horse that only one person can tame, a trope that resonates with every horse lover the world over, me included!

A shipwreck leaves horse-mad Alec stranded on a desert island with the Black, a wild Arabian stallion. The pair must learn to trust each other if they are to survive.

But this is as much a story about horse racing as it is a shipwreck tale, and when Alec and the Black return home to America the Black’s incredible speed sees him taking part in a match race against the two fastest racehorses of the day.

The race scores high in the drama stakes, but for me it’s Alec’s bond with the Black that makes this book unforgettable.

By Walter Farley,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Black Stallion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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.

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Book cover of Black Beauty

Why did I love this book?

Despite being written almost 150 years ago, Black Beauty is still one of the absolute classics. Not only is it one of the bestselling books of all time, it’s also been described as the most influential anti-cruelty novel ever.

I love it because it’s told from Black Beauty’s point of view, encouraging readers to see the world from a horse’s eyes.

Black Beauty meets with both kindness and cruelty throughout his life, from his carefree days as a foal to his happy retirement in the country. 

In places it makes for an uncomfortable read, but ultimately it’s an uplifting tale.

Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty to encourage kindness, sympathy, and understanding towards horses. The tragedy is she never lived to see the impact of her legacy.

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Black Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Continuously in print and translated into multiple languages since it was first published, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a classic work of children's literature and an important text in the fields of Victorian studies and animal studies. Writing to ""induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment"", Sewell realistically documents the working conditions of Black Beauty, who moves down the social scale from a rural carriage horse to a delivery horse in London. Sewell makes visible and tangible the experience of animals who were often treated as if they were machines. Though she died shortly after it was published, Sewell's book…

The One Dollar Horse

By Lauren St John,

Book cover of The One Dollar Horse

Why did I love this book?

The heroine in this modern-day rags-to-riches pony book is fifteen-year-old Casey Blue. Casey lives in an East London tower block, helps out at a local riding school, and dreams of winning the world’s biggest three-day event, the Badminton Horse Trials.

Like all the best pony books, there’s a half-starved horse to be rescued and brought back to health before Casey can even think about realising her dream.

The odds are against her, but if anything can make it happen, it’s the incredible bond between Casey and her big grey horse, Storm Warning. 

Full of equestrian knowledge and capturing the highs and lows of top-level riding, this is the kind of underdog story I thoroughly enjoyed as an adult and would have absolutely adored as a pony-mad girl.

By Lauren St John,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The One Dollar Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thriller set in the equestrian world about making the impossible possible, about reaching the top on a one dollar horse. Fifteen year old Casey Blue lives in East London's grimmest tower block and volunteers at a local riding school, but her dream is to win the world's greatest Three Day Event: the Badminton Horse Trials. When she rescues a starving, half-wild horse, she's convinced that the impossible can be made possible. But she has reckoned without the consequences of her father's criminal record, or the distraction of a boy with melty, dark eyes, with whom she refuses to fall…

The Horse Dancer

By Jojo Moyes,

Book cover of The Horse Dancer

Why did I love this book?

Jojo Moyes is better known for writing romance than pony books, but The Horse Dancer has all the ingredients for the perfect pony book: a troubled but talented teen, a beautiful horse, and a dream of being the best.

Fourteen-year-old Sarah wants to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and join Le Cadre Noir French classical riding academy, but her hopes are dashed when her beloved grandfather falls gravely ill.

Suddenly alone in the world, Sarah is taken in by lawyer Natasha and her estranged husband Mac. Unfortunately, she omits to tell them she is the owner of a thoroughbred dancing horse called Boo. 

When Sarah rashly decides to run away to France with Boo I couldn’t help rooting for the pair.

This is a story of courage and determination that had me gripped from the first page to the last.

By Jojo Moyes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Horse Dancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Giver of Stars, a novel about a lost girl and her horse, the enduring strength of friendship, and how even the smallest choices can change everything

When Sarah's grandfather gives her a beautiful horse named Boo-hoping that one day she'll follow in his footsteps to join an elite French riding school, away from their gritty London neighborhood-she quietly trains in city's parks and alleys. But then her grandfather falls ill, and Sarah must juggle horsemanship with school and hospital visits.

Natasha, a young lawyer, is reeling after her failed marriage: her…

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