The best heart-warming and uplifting fiction about horses

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved horses, in real life and fiction. I guzzled up pony stories as soon as I was old enough to read, then I started writing them, tales of teenage orphans adopted by distant aunts who lived in crumbling stately piles with fields full of ponies. When I started writing fiction for a living, it stood to reason horses would feature, and three decades after one trotted into my debut novel French Relations – then galloped off into the sunset in its sequel Well Groomed - they’re still a mainstay. Of the twenty novels I’ve written, more than half have horses at their heart, including my new Comptons series. 

I wrote...

The Country Set

By Fiona Walker,

Book cover of The Country Set

What is my book about?

Compton Magna sits in the hills where the golden Cotswolds meet Shakespeare country. At its heart is the stud farm owned by Captain Jocelyn Percy. Twenty-five years ago, his only child, Ronnie Ledwell, abandoned her husband and children for her lover. She’s about to return, and sparks are set to fly.

Amateur sleuth and baker Pip is determined to keep her position as the stud’s housekeeper, even if it means stirring things up. Taciturn stallion man Lester still guards the secret he and Ronnie have shared for three decades. Young horse-loving Carly Turner juggles jobs and her lawless in-laws, unaware that the stud’s future might rest in her hands. Bay Austen usually gets what he wants and now he’s after married Petra Gunn and the Captain’s land. Will Ronnie’s return thwart his plans?
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man

Fiona Walker Why did I love this book?

This first of Sassoon’s semi-biographical Sherston trilogy is a nostalgic amble along Edwardian English lanes, across its village greens, and over its hedges, tracing the early years of likeable, witty George Sherston before the Great War. It depicts a bygone era of pearl-clutching maiden aunts, rumbustious village cricket matches, and the rigours of the hunting field, in which enthusiastic recruit George is a terrific observer of the larger-than-life characters he encounters. He is winningly grateful to his horses for being so much better at it than him, from flighty first pony Sheila to trusty hunter Harkaway, and ‘bargain’ point-to-pointer Cockbird who is gifted to the cavalry at the book’s close, just as George accepts his commission to the Flintshire Fusiliers to fight in the Great War, saying farewell to his halcyon childhood. Sassoon, famous for his war poetry, is such a warm and intelligent writer that his affection for charactersboth human and animal – is timeless.

By Siegfried Sassoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first volume in Siegfried Sassoon’s beloved trilogy, The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston, with a new introduction by celebrated historian Paul Fussell

A highly decorated English soldier and an acclaimed poet and novelist, Siegfried Sassoon won fame for his trilogy of fictionalized autobiographies that wonderfully capture the vanishing idylls of Edwardian England and the brutal realities of war.

In this first novel of the semiautobiographical George Sherston trilogy, Sassoon wonderfully captures the vanishing idylls of the Edwardian English countryside. Never out of print since its original publication in 1928, when it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Sassoon's…

Book cover of Flambards

Fiona Walker Why did I love this book?

The glorious Flambards series, starring gutsy heroine Christina, was a staple for pony-mad teenagers in the 70s and 80s and is still held in great affection by its legions of fans. It’s so full of heart and life that it’s stayed relevant and readable today. Orphaned at the turn of the twentieth century, Christina Parsons is sent to live with tyrannical, hunting-mad Uncle William and his two sons in their impoverished estate. One son, dashing thruster Mark, is thought to be a good match for Christina, but it’s his younger brother, the clever, awkward would-be aviator William who she falls for. Perhaps the most trusting and enduring love she finds, however, is that for horses, starting with the wonderful, kind Sweet Briar in this opening novel. The freedom they discover together, blasting across Flambards’ ancient turf from Uncle William’s angry bellowing, is a tour de force.

By K.M. Peyton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Christina is sent to live in the grand country house, Flambards, she doesn't know what to expect. Once there, she meets two young men, Mark and Will, trying to cope with their bad-tempered father. She also discovers a passion for horse-riding and a love for life in the country. As time goes by Christina begins to embrace her new life and all the social engagements that it involves, but with both brothers vying for her attention Christina knows it's just a matter
of time before she has to choose . . .

A welcome reissue of this much-loved family…

Book cover of Riders

Fiona Walker Why did I love this book?

Naughty, pun-laden, wise-cracking, and wildly sexy, Riders was the first of Jilly Cooper’s ‘Rutshire Chronicles’ introducing us to the Cotswolds show-jumping set, led by the thoroughly unreconstructed Rupert Campbell-Black whose ruthless bid to win Olympic gold sweeps up all in his wake. The male characters, alternately strutting around in breeches and dinner suits and trailed by adoring Labradors and women, are all a wonderfully undomesticated pack. The feisty heroines who take them on inevitably end up swooning. It’s the horses – a brave bold and talented herd – that are by far the most noble characters and provide many genuinely moving moments. Riders is about as politically correct as a cigar in a maternity ward and unapologetically British from hunting cap to mahogany-topped boot, yet it remains the best ‘grown-up pony book’ in existence, still adored by tens of thousands of fans.

By Jilly Cooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is The Classic Bestseller. Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks. Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals. The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by…

Book cover of The Horse Whisperer: A Novel

Fiona Walker Why did I love this book?

The story of Pilgrim, brutally traumatised by a road accident, and his no-less emotionally damaged teenage rider Grace, is a tear-jerking masterpiece. When Grace’s mother Annie reads about a ‘horse whisperer’ who can help save her daughter’s horse from being put down, they embark upon a road trip from America’s East Coast to Montana where horseman Tom Booker harnesses his knowledge of equine behaviour to try to rebuild the broken relationship between them. The sweeping scale of the Midwest, its close-knit community, and no-nonsense horse sense come as a shock to these urban sentimentalists, not least the sometimes cruel-seeming method of replicating a horse’s own herd behaviour to ‘join up’ and build a bond. As Grace learns to do so, it seems Pilgrim has a slim chance of turning things round. In the process, Annie and Tom fall for each other, an affair that threatens everything. For those familiar with the film, the book has a very different ending and it’s well worth the reading journey there, tissues and all.

By Nicholas Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The phenomenal number one bestseller, which sold over twenty million copies and was made into a classic film starring Robert Redford and Scarlett Johansson. This stunning 25th anniversary edition features exclusive new content from Nicholas Evans.

'A love story, a gripping adventure and an emotionally charged tale of redemption and human strength' Cosmopolitan

'Brilliance pervades this five-handkerchief weepie' The Times

'Wild horses couldn't drag me from this . . . a tear-jerking page-turner' Daily Mail


When Grace Maclean and her beloved horse, Pilgrim, are hit by a truck one snow-covered morning, their destinies become inextricably bound to one another.…

Book cover of The Horse Dancer

Fiona Walker Why did I love this book?

Before the enormous success of Me Before You, horse-lover Jojo Moyes wrote this gem of a story about London teenager Sarah, whose grandfather Henri once trained with the legendary French cavalry troupe, the Cadre Noir. Taught to ride by Henri and now mastering classical dressage, she’s determined to prove she can perform the difficult ‘capriole’ high kick on her horse Boo. But when Henri’s hospitalised, leaving her unable to pay the keep in Boo’s city yard, Sarah is forced to take drastic steps to hold onto her horse and keep her grandfather’s dreams alive. A roller-coaster of an adventure follows that requires a leap of faith as big as that high-kicking ‘capriole’ and makes for a page-turning read. It’s a story of underdogs and high horses with bags of pace and pathos. 

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…

You might also like...

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

Book cover of Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

Ralph Hickok Author Of Vagabond Halfback: The Saga of Johnny Blood McNally

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Green Bay and my dad was the official scorer for the Packers, so I was immersed in pro football history even as a child. During my careers as a newspaper feature writer and editor and as an advertising copywriter, I also became a sports historian. My magnum opus was “The Encyclopedia of North American Sports History,” 650,000 words. But my favorite by far is my biography of Johnny Blood. I was 12 or 13 when I decided I wanted to write it, 33 when I began working on it, 38 when I finished it, and 78 when it was finally published.

Ralph's book list on the history of pro football

What is my book about?

From Kirkus Reviews: "This debut short-story collection paints the wistful life of a newspaper journalist as seen through his sexual and romantic encounters...

Throughout, Hickok writes in an assured style, pulling readers along. The narrow sexual focus results in a distorted picture, yet other aspects of Art's life emerge at the edges—his intelligence, his career as a journalist, and even the sincerity with which he gives in to his male urges and construes sex as love... 

Subdued yet alluring; a pensive reflection on the male psyche."

Love, Sex, and Other Calamities: 15 Stories and a Poem by Ralph Hickok

By Ralph Hickok,

What is this book about?

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he’s still haunted by memories of past loves…
A 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl have a brief romantic encounter when their families are vacationing in neighboring lakeside cottages…
Two teenagers enjoy sexual experimentation when she babysits for her little brother while her parents are out drinking…
A high school boy has a crush on an older woman who identifies with Molly Bloom…
A college freshman falls in love with a high school freshman and is amazed at the depths of her passion…
A guy wins…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in equestrianism, romantic love, and grandparents?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about equestrianism, romantic love, and grandparents.

Equestrianism Explore 33 books about equestrianism
Romantic Love Explore 867 books about romantic love
Grandparents Explore 61 books about grandparents