I have so many books by the Pullein-Thompson sisters. And yet, I hadn’t yet touched on the Phantom
Horse series by Christine Pullein-Thompson.
Named Phantom Horse, the first
book in the series explains how Angus and Jean come to live in America with
their parents. English born and bred,
the two horse fans are surprised by the news of them moving to America because
of their father’s work.
Young Jean is not thrilled with the news. She hates the idea of leaving her friends. There is also their trusty ponies that will be left behind. Although their ponies are to be leased out to other people rather than sold, Jean isn’t happy.
Once they’ve arrived in Virginia Jean and Angus are quickly
introduced to some nearby neighbours.
Their father’s friend Charlie has three children older than Jean and
Angus. Phil, Pete and Wendy are super
friendly and bring along some horses for the brother and sister pair to
ride. They also introduce the news of a
beautiful palomino colt that is running wild on the local mountains.
Suddenly Jean and Angus dream of capturing the colt for themselves. And so starts an adventure to secure a beautiful young horse whilst learning the many differences between English terms in England and English terms in America.
The story touches on many horse events including jumping and hunting, going on hacks in the local wilderness and even schooling in paddocks. Jean aptly describes different terms as she learns them from her American friends. And although the beautiful palomino seems elusive, the story ends on a note that sets it up well for future adventures of the British brother and sister in America.
Although the book was an interesting and enjoyable read, the 1985 print edition had many grammatical errors which I found distracting. Otherwise a good read.
I was contacted by Anna to see if I might like to read her book Challenger. She indicated that I was one author she’d come across who promotes being a Christian horse book author. In light of that, I was curious to read her book!
Challenger has a main character that appears to be too young to go through a mid-life crisis. And yet it seems that Joanna needs to reassess her life and the direction she’s headed. She is stuck in a rut and when a childhood friend reappears after a long absence, Joanna questions if she can regain a friendship that was pivotal in her childhood years. But it seems that Diane’s appearance isn’t set to make things comfortable – quite the opposite.
Joanna is used to a life where she and her father depend on and confide in each other. It seems that Diane’s return unusually upsets this dynamic. In Challenger, the small door that leads out of the house into the servant’s quarters shows a drastic difference between Joanna’s life and her father Ray’s. The story looks at family relationships, the benefit of equine therapy, dog training and even the Christian faith.
For two girls who lived and breathed horses, their lives have gone in very different directions. Diane’s interest in equine therapy has Joanna cringing as her comfortable life and routine are suddenly filled with the one animal that she has shied away from.
As Joanna seeks to fill a void with some canine friends, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to a man that can help her to train them. But his aloof nature has her questioning if it’s possible to really get to know him. This challenging friendship is at times more than the young woman can handle alongside the dramatics of Diane and her new love life. Challenger is an interesting read where the benefits of equine therapy really come into the story in the second half.
Author – Anna Rashbrook Fiction – adult In my library – a digital copy.
Twelve year old Mary has a passion for horses. She dreams of riding them and being a great horseperson. But there’s one thing standing in the way of Mary’s dream – legs that won’t work. After she caught a virus as a young child Mary lost the use of her legs and has become quite proficient at getting around in a wheelchair. Mary’s Song is the tale of this twelve year old’s endeavours to get her legs back and to save a lame foal.
Mary and her father live next door to a horse breeding facility. Mary is rapt when one day her neighbour, another twelve year old girl – Laura – turns up with a horse and buggy. She is there to make friends.
As Mary learns that her favourite foal has something wrong
with its leg and may need to be humanely put out of her misery, she is
devastated. With Laura they formulate a
plan to save the foal. On top of this,
Laura is persuaded to help Mary get up in the saddle on a horse.
Mary struggles with an overprotective father whilst Laura
just wishes her parents would notice her.
As the two build a friendship, they find that with Mary’s determination
and faith in God, that it is possible to get her on horseback. And it even seems that Mary’s legs are
Mary dreams of herself being restored to full functioning legs. She has the same prayer for her young horse friend. As she fights for what she believes in, it’s hard for her father to ignore her determination.
Mary’s Song explores a little bit of the Christian faith, horse care and riding as well as young girls standing up for what they believe in. It is very horse focused and is bound to engage young horse fans. Recommended.
Author – Susan Count Fiction – pre teen In my library – I have an electronic copy.
I’m not sure if I downloaded this Kindle book after finding it from my search term of horse or Christian, but either way it looked like it had both of these things! Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart tells the tale of 25 year old AJ. AJ lives at home with her mother, father and younger sister. She lives in an abusive home and feels like a child in spite of her age, based on the way her father treats her. Her best escape is her beautiful warmblood gelding, Midnight.
Although she helps out with the youth group at her local
church and has a belief in God, she struggles to understand how He could let
bad things continually happen to her at the hand of her father. Only her best friend Brenna is aware of the
abuse and AJ works hard to keep the façade of a happy family. But when a snow storm shuts her in at the
Cooper family’s property where she keeps her horse, AJ finds herself coming to
know Mac the Youth Pastor beyond a superficial level.
When Mac suspects what is going on with AJ, he is keen to step in and help her, but she refuses. It is only through offering her a job with the horses as the barn’s head trainer that the two connect. As she accepts the job and escapes the dangers at home, AJ finds herself drawn to Mac’s reliable, safe character.
But just as things appear to be turning around for AJ, it seems that gossip and pride have the potential to ruin things. Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart is a very Christian focused story that addresses issues of purity, abuse, poor motives, gossip and pride. It addresses well the issues of judging a book by it’s cover and examining one’s true intentions. On top of this, horses feature highly in the book and it’s lovely to read about the horsemanship that AJ utilises to try to bring around an ornery mare.
There is a sweet romance amongst the story but also the chilling topic of family violence. Right toward the end I didn’t see how the story was going to be wrapped up when such a devastating event occurred. The Christian faith follows throughout the whole story and it focuses on how often doing the right thing isn’t the easy way out. An engaging read.
I recently downloaded a copy of the Horses of Winter for free on Kindle. I have read and enjoyed Defining Gravity by Genevieve Mckay so was keen to check out another of her novels. This novella is a delightful read with a small amount of fantasy, horse information thrown in and a lot on family dynamics.
Sarah and her eight year old sister Amy are working their way through the foster system. They are finally in a place where Sarah is keen to stay. But she’s on eggshells trying to not upset the unusual routine or habits of their artistic carer, Cecily. This is hard to do with an energetic, imaginative younger sister. Sarah finds things quickly spiral out of control when Amy is insistent that her older sister check out the unicorn in the greenhouse of their carer.
Sarah finally relents, finding she can’t focus on a poem her
father wrote before he and her mother passed away. She doesn’t find the unicorn Amy spoke of but
is intrigued by hoof prints in the snow and a trail of blood. Soon Amy and Sarah are racing daylight to
find the injured horse. They finally
find him and Sarah is amused in amongst their need to act fast that Amy is
convinced the horse named Sam is a unicorn.
The day gets colder and the trek in the snow seems to take forever. Sarah is convinced she has hypothermia and it is this that is making it seem like the horse can talk in her mind. Saving the gelding from death out in the snow has made Sarah a hero with their neighbours. They are thankful she was able to find Sam and bandage his wound before bringing him back to Cecily’s. Saving the neighbours’ horse opens an opportunity for Sarah and Amy to develop friends in the eight children that live next door. A Christmas surprise by the Plekowski family means Sarah and Amy get to ride. Sarah’s riding knowledge is shown as she picks up walking, trotting and cantering again after years out of the saddle.
As the teen struggles to work out how to keep herself with her younger sister in the foster system, she feels sick as she recognises Cecily’s frustration with Amy’s exuberant nature. In a place where she’s starting to develop friends and even getting to be around horses, Sarah questions if it’s too good to be true. The Horses of Winter is an enjoyable story with a great ending. It’s bound to entertain horse fans.
Author – Genevieve Mckay Fiction – young adult In my library – as an eBook it is!
In the series created by Joanna Campbell, the reader gets to learn about Ashleigh Griffen’s life before her parents lost their farm and started working at Townsend Acres. In book six in this series titled A Dangerous Ride, Ashleigh is suddenly introduced to the world of showing and jumping.
Alongside her best friend Mona, Ashleigh tries her hand at
jumping on her mare, Stardust. Although
it’s fun and she knows she is improving, Ashleigh would still rather be
galloping. In time though, she starts
competing and the thrill of winning a ribbon is contagious. Ashleigh gets caught up in the joy of
competing alongside Mona.
Whilst this is going on, one of her favourite horses –
racing stallion Aladdin – is being prepared for a big race. In an incredible twist of luck, he ends up at
Edgardale, Ashleigh’s parents’ property as there is a mix up regarding stabling
at the racetrack. Ashleigh is thrilled
to have him at her parents’ home. She
imagines spending lots of time with the horse – maybe even astride. And of course it’s appealing to catch up with
his thirteen year old owner and exercise rider, Peter.
But Ashleigh’s older sister seems to be monopolising Peter’s time. And whenever Ashleigh plans to do something relating to Aladdin there are other commitments, other rides to take part in. Competition life demands a lot of her time and it seems that it may even rob her of the chance to see Aladdin in his biggest race yet. In a world that is full of horses, Ashleigh finds she has to make a choice about which road she wants to take while she’s too young to pursue her desire of being a jockey. Competing or race going? The question seems harder than it should be and Ashleigh battles to find time for both. A Dangerous Ride is an interesting read and gives a great insight into the dynamics of Ashleigh’s family life and horse commitments.
Author – Mary Newhall Anderson, series created by Joanna Campbell Fiction – pre-teen In my library – that it is!
Young Arden Quinn loves spending time with her grandparents. They run an animal rescue farm that is always made up of lots of species. Monkeys, elephants, lizards and birds, the list goes on! Arden is especially a fan of horses. She is pleased when it seems that her grandfather has picked up a neglected horse to nurse back to health. But in the Stolen Horse, the rising ten year old is saddened by the state of the black filly that has been brought home.
After being encouraged by her grandmother that she needs to take on a project to occupy her time, Arden decides that the black filly is her special project. She is mortified when her family nicknames the untrusting animal Bad News. Instead, she gives her the name of Glory and spends any time that she can talking to the filly, grooming her and feeding her sugar cubes.
Her time invested is rewarded and Arden finds that Glory is quiet around her although skittish around others. Her grandfather sees the filly’s nervous nature and forbids Arden to ride her because of it. But Arden is convinced he’s wrong and just needs to prove it.
A secret ride goes well and Arden plans to show her grandparents how reliable Glory is. Unfortunately, she didn’t count on her meddling neighbour Tiffany to ruin things. Although Tiffany first had nothing nice to say about Glory, once she sees Arden astride she is jealous and wants the horse for her own. Throw in the mystery of where the filly first came from and the Stolen Horse is a great read for young horse enthusiasts. There’s horse information, a horse mad rider and a mystery relating to a beautiful thoroughbred filly.
Author – Sharon M. Hart
Fiction – pre-teen
In my library – that it is!
Every book of Angela Dorsey’s that I have read feature horses in a fantasy role. Sola Eclipsed is no different. Thirteen year old Sola lives in an interesting world. Humans are lowest on the pecking order; Shadow Elves are highest. Somewhere in between are dwarves and other creatures.
Sola and her grandmother are struggling to make a living in their world. Humans are allowed to trade in town but they make very little money and the rent is due to Landlord Stye, an evil dwarf. Sola is devastated that she can’t help her grandmother. She has no aptitude for the beautiful carvings that her elderly grandmother can create to sell. And it seems she is not much use for anything else.
Going against her grandmother’s wishes, Sola follows her to town one morning. She is amazed at the array of creatures and people – all unsmiling, unkind – that make their way to town. In amongst the melee she finds herself suddenly to blame for a Shadow Elf falling off his horse. Sola knows he could have her killed or imprisoned and the fear spurns her into action. But when she interacts with the beautiful red horse that he was riding, she finds she has some connection with the animal.
Sola is grateful to escape that day with her life. But it seems she can’t hide from the commotion she created on the way to town that day.
A sudden chance at employment has her in amongst those she so desperately wishes to avoid. And yet… it seems that this chance meeting is an opportunity for young Sola to utilise the connection she feels with not only one beautiful red horse, but many horses.
Sola Eclipsed (Talismans of Thunder #1)
Sola Eclipsed is just the start of this young teenager’s story. It is made up of fantasy, adventure and some mystery thrown in. Add horses to the mix and young horse fans are bound to enjoy the start to the Talismans of Thunder series.
Author – Angela Dorsey
Fiction – teen
In my library – As a Kindle version.
Wild Pony Island by L.B. Shively is a short story for young horse enthusiasts. With the main focus a young boy stranded on an island and a pony stallion, it is bound to capture their imagination. Young Simon misses his trips out in the dinghy with his papa. Because his father is sick, he finds that he is sad and cooped up inside when he’s desperate to be out on the water.
In a rash decision, Simon decides to take the dinghy out by himself one night, promising himself that he’ll be back before his parents notice he is gone. But things quickly go awry. Simon finds himself stranded on an island, cold, wet, hungry and alone. Or so he thinks.
A pony stallion seems to arrive out of nowhere, pointing Simon toward a place where he can be protected from the elements. The young boy makes a quick shelter and then considers how he is going to get back to his family.
He knows enough to make a fire. Although he is able to dry off and ward away the cold, he is hungry and also thirsty. At the right time the stallion pony captures his attention and draws him away toward water. In time, he shows the young boy where he may secure food on the island, too. It seems that this wild pony island is a place where one wild pony is able to look out for the boy and help him to meet his needs.
In time Simon is surprised and pleased to find that he is not alone. Thankfully he is found and will be brought safely home. As he leaves with his father, Simon is amazed to find that it is not just one pony that lives on the island. There is a herd to accompany the stallion that had so carefully looked out for him. Wild Pony Island is a short, entertaining read full of adventure.
Author – L.B. Shively
Fiction – children’s
In my library – as an eBook it is.
In the first book in the Winnie the Horse Gentler series, young Winnie Willis comes across a beautiful grey Arabian mare known as Wild Thing. She is owned by the Spidell family that seem to own most things in town. Winnie works for them as a stable hand but when she sees the unmanageable mare in their care, she is desperate to earn more to purchase the beautiful horse.
Winnie’s sister Lizzy is keen for the pair to hatch a plan to stay in the town they are now living in. Their father struggling with the loss of their mother hops from town to town, after having sold their horse property. Winnie hasn’t ridden since her mother was lost in a car accident that she blames herself for. In spite of this, horses are in her blood and she still loves them and works with them.
It seems she even has a gift for mismanaged horses as she slowly makes progress with Wild Thing. But then an act by the Spidell brother and sister pair undoes all her hard work to tame Wild Thing.
Winnie is adamant she has to buy the mare and save her from a horrible fate. As she works to earn more money to purchase her, she, her sister and some new friends come up with a scheme to make some money – and quick. It will cash in on Winnie’s gentling skills and provide much needed funds to purchase the mare.
Through the process of gentling a horse and settling in this new town, Winnie battles with the guilt she feels from her mother’s death. And it seems that Winnie’s father feels the same. She can’t seem to have a normal conversation with her father and feels his silence keenly. In amongst all of this loss, Winnie is left questioning why God has abandoned her. Once a young woman of faith, she finds herself feeling alone, vulnerable and without direction. Wild Thing explores the act of natural horsemanship with horses, finding faith again and redeeming family relationships. The horse information is very factual and consistent throughout the book. A great read for young ones.
Author: Dandi Daley Mackall
Fiction – children
In My Library? As the first book, I am glad it is!