The best books in which the equine temperament is the leitmotif

Leigh Hearon Author Of Reining in Murder
By Leigh Hearon

Who am I?

I have a two-sided relationship with horses, which have been part of my life forever. True, I didn’t own a horse until I turned 40—the year I realized my parents really weren’t going to buy me that pony—but I went to plenty of horse-centered camps and continued lessons through college. I love riding, but I honestly believe I love simply being among horses more. I feel a magnetic pull from these magnificent animals every time I pass a paddock or pasture. Secretly, I believe that horses are far more in tune with life’s rhythms than we mere mortals will ever know. I feel honored to have known the ones who have been under my care.


I wrote...

Reining in Murder

By Leigh Hearon,

Book cover of Reining in Murder

What is my book about?

When horse trainer Annie Carson rescues a beautiful thoroughbred from a roadside rollover, she knows the horse is lucky to be alive…unlike the driver. After rehabilitating the injured animal at her Carson Stables ranch, Annie delivers the horse to Hilda Colbert—the thoroughbred's neurotic and controlling owner—only to find she's been permanently put out to pasture. Two deaths in three days is unheard of in the small Olympic Peninsula county, and Annie decides to start sniffing around. She's confident she can track down a killer…but she may not know how ruthless this killer really is…

The books I picked & why

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Saddle Tramps

By Carole T. Beers,

Book cover of Saddle Tramps

Why this book?

Carole’s protagonist, Pepper Kane, has a lot in common with my amateur sleuth—or perhaps it’s just that women who own horses are genetically wired the same way. In any case, Pepper is one feisty cowgirl who knows and loves horses like nobody’s business. Her love interest, a Lakota tribal policeman, is as enigmatic as Pepper is in-your-face, but he proves invaluable as murders seem to lead a trail to Pepper’s door. The dialogue is quick and sassy, the plots have plenty of twists and equine participation, and all five in the series are page-turners. This is a terrific go-to escapism read whether you know horses or not. Plot spoiler: If you didn’t before, you will by the end.

Saddle Tramps

By Carole T. Beers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Meet Pepper Kane … a sassy ex-reporter, cowgirl, mother of wayward adult kids and daughter of aged parents, who’s putting her brand on a new career in the romantic, mystery-filled modern American West. She has an eye for clues others overlook, and a talent for riding down the deadliest criminals – and lovers.
SADDLE TRAMPS
Trading her reporter’s ID badge for the vocations of selling horse tack and showing horses, Pepper enjoys her new life and friends in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley. While line-dancing with her Brassbottom Barn buddies one night, she learns a prize show horse has been killed.…


The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

By Elizabeth Letts,

Book cover of The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

Why this book?

This is the story of a not-so-pretty, headed-for-the-slaughterhouse horse who became a champion show jumper while the world was in the depths of the Great Depression. Purchased on a whim by an immigrant Dutch farmer, the horse showed astonishing talent as a jumper, and together Snowman (the name his children give their new family pet) and the Dutchman win trophy after trophy in show venues throughout the Eastern Seaboard. Snowman loved to sail over jumps, the higher the better, but he was so much more than his remarkable talent. His heart was as big as his stride. In 1958, when Snowman won Champion of the Madison Square Garden Diamond Jubilee, a would-be buyer approached the Dutchman, only to be told, “He’s not for sale. My children love him.” I love this book.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

By Elizabeth Letts,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Eighty-Dollar Champion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The dramatic and inspiring story of a man and his horse, an unlikely duo whose rise to stardom in the sport of show jumping captivated the nation  

Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show…


Seabiscuit: An American Legend

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Book cover of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Why this book?

The well-known tale of another hard-luck horse who achieves greatness on the racetrack never fails to inspire me. Like Snowman, Seabiscuit is another American icon, beloved for his tenacity and drive to win in the years that bridge the Depression and lead up to World War II. Hillenbrand is rightly praised for her breathtaking, heart-pounding descriptions of the race around the track, but we’re rooting for both the horse and the jockey, Red Pollard….not to mention the trainer behind the scenes, Tom Smith. Both Seabiscuit and Pollard bring a lot of baggage to the stable. Each has self-destructive vices, temperamental issues, and a whole lot of physical challenges. For me, the beauty of this book goes beyond the finish line. It meticulously chronicles the intricate relationships that develop between man and horse as they work toward a common goal. By the end of the book, the inevitable win at Santa Ana is pure lagniappe. 

Seabiscuit: An American Legend

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Seabiscuit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of the runaway phenomenon Unbroken comes a universal underdog story about the horse who came out of nowhere to become a legend.

Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to…


Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Book cover of Black Beauty

Why this book?

Although considered a children’s book, I never read Black Beauty growing up. I knew the general story line and simply thought it would be painful to ingest. I later learned that Sewell originally intended it as a book for adults, “to induce kindness, sympathy, and understanding of horses.” Fifty years later, I finally picked up the book and found my childhood instincts were right on. It was an exceedingly difficult story to read, particularly since we are learning the story through the eyes of the horse. Of course, when Sewell wrote Black Beauty, horses were used primarily for work, not ridden for pleasure. Kindness toward horses and humane training methods were in style then, as they are now. But the maltreatment Sewell describes is still far too prevalent, as any equine rescue center knows. 

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Why should I read it?

10 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…


Talking with Horses

By Henry Blake,

Book cover of Talking with Horses

Why this book?

Henry Blake is a very likeable, witty writer from Wales who has produced three classic books on understanding the horse temperament. I discovered them when I was a first-time horse owner and devoured this and his other two titles, Thinking with Horses and Horse Sense. Blake’s books are peppered with self-deprecating anecdotes on how he fumbled his way from the age of four to understanding the animal that would become the center of his working life. His books are worthy precursors to the many “horse whisperer” books that have emerged since Robert Redford played the role.  There is strong, practical, usable advice in what Blake says—because he’s done it all, and is letting us in on his secret, which is really quite simple—learn to think like a horse, honor his approach to life, and always keep a treat of two in your corduroy jacket.

Talking with Horses

By Henry Blake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book of its kind, Talking with Horses has become an indispensable source of information for all riders and horse owners.

Learn to communicate with your horse in his own language-using telepathy and extrasensory perception-and you will learn to work together with your horse, moving and thinking as one animal. By understanding how your horse uses sounds and his body to communicate, you will be able to build a vital rapport with your horse based on understanding and respect.

A fantastic insight into the equine mind, Talking with Horses draws on Henry Blake's natural affinity with horses, based on…


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