The best equestrian-themed books to satisfy your horse story cravings

Who am I?

When I was five years old, our reward for not squirming in church was a pony ride in a small dirt ring. Although it wasn’t until I was out on my own and working before I could take riding lessons, I never forgot the joy that aged, tired pony gave me. I soon bought my first horse, eventually moved to a horse farm, and never looked back. My novels are mostly mysteries set in the equestrian world, but they focus on the healing power of horses in the lives of characters facing complex and sometimes dangerous family situations. 


I wrote...

False Gods: The Show Jumper's Challenge

By L.R. Trovillion,

Book cover of False Gods: The Show Jumper's Challenge

What is my book about?

Cory Iverson’s junior year is off to a lousy start. Publicly humiliated and bullied, she runs from every challenge and is labeled a loser and a quitter. But when her dog leads her to the barn of a former Grand Prix show jumper, Cory’s faded riding dreams are reignited. Teaming up with the reclusive trainer and a mysterious rescued horse, her confidence grows, but the rest of her life falls apart: pills appear in her mom’s purse, her ballerina sister wastes away, and her boyfriend is keeping secrets. Worst of all, Cory’s winning spree catches the eye of a ruthless competitor. Trapped in her crosshairs, Cory must decide if she’ll back down and flee… or stand up for herself, her horse, and her dreams.

The books I picked & why

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Horse Heaven

By Jane Smiley,

Book cover of Horse Heaven

Why this book?

Jane Smiley is a true horsewoman who has the credentials to write this sweeping novel that plumbs the murky world of horse racing. With humor and humanity, the story touches on all corners of the racing world from the stratosphere of the super-wealthy owners to the working-class trainers on the brink of financial ruin. But most memorable of all are the horse characters. Smiley lovingly portrays each with a unique personality, hopes, quirks, and yes, opinions. After reading, it is the names and personalities of the larger-than-life horses that linger in my memory: Justa Bob, Residual, Epic Steam… 


Stormy Weather

By Paulette Jiles,

Book cover of Stormy Weather

Why this book?

You know this is going to be a great book from the author who treated us to other historical adventures such as The Color of Lightning, Enemy Women, and News of the World. Jiles has the skills to recreate a period in time so tangible, the reader feels like they've been dropped through a time portal, and Stormy Weather is no exception. Set during the darkest years of the depression, a woman and her daughters battle cruel hardships alone on an abandoned farm, relying and setting their hopes on their only legacy—a dangerous, rogue racehorse named Smoky Joe. It is a story of personal strength and desperate dreams, pinned on the back of a horse. I love a story about women with grit, hope, and a tenacious will to succeed. 


The Scorpio Races

By Maggie Stiefvater,

Book cover of The Scorpio Races

Why this book?

Each November the Scorpio Races are run—a race of mythological “water horses” that are more likely to drown and kill their riders than they are to run to the finish line. Only males compete in the races, until now. Puck Connolly, the first girl to ever ride, was thrown in by chance, unprepared, but doesn’t have much of a choice. The author describes these terrifying equine “water horses” as a cross between a velociraptor and the rankest Thoroughbred race horse you can imagine, but somehow manages to make the reader love them. This fantasy is so realistically drawn, I’d think twice about swimming off the coast of Ireland from now on.  


Outfoxed

By Rita Mae Brown,

Book cover of Outfoxed

Why this book?

A “murder light” story, unique setting, and cast of crazy characters are the hallmarks of a classic cozy mystery, and Outfoxed certainly delivers! The setting serves up a whopping dose of southern charm and fox hunting tradition, while also providing a stage for a fierce rivalry between a native son Virginian and an upstart Yankee for the coveted position of joint-Master of the Hunt. When a murder is committed during the Opening Day Hunt, everyone is shocked to realize the murderer has to be an insider. That’s when the Master of the Jefferson Hunt of Virginia, “Sister” Jane Arnold, swings into action with both the horses, hounds, and even foxes on her side. Yes, the animals speak, and it’s charming and fun. The author’s obvious love of fox hunting comes through so clearly, it prompted me to give it a try. Once. Because I must admit, it was too much for this much more timid rider. The best part is, if you love the characters and setting in this book (and you will), there are 13 more in the series to read. 


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?

Snowman is an equine Cinderella Story, and who doesn’t love that? It’s the well-known tale of a savvy horseman who spotted a horse on a truck bound for slaughter and bought him, then turned the horse into an internationally famous show jumper. The story of the bond between the owner, Harry de Leyer, and this amazing horse is inspiring not only to horse lovers, but their relationship also captured the imagination of Cold War-era America. The author does infuse a lot of the history of the time into the book, which may not be every reader’s cup of tea, but as for myself, I enjoy the historical context. The horse, Snowman, almost becomes a symbol of triumph during one of the darkest periods of history. 


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