Category Archives: Horse Books

Deadfall

I was loaned this book by Lyndon Stacey from a friend who handed it over when she realised I was a fan of Dick Francis’ novels. Stacey has had said of her writing, “The closest to taking Dick Francis’ crown”.

Dead Fall revolves around Lincoln (Linc) Tremayne, an heir to a viscountcy rising thirty year old male who has a passion for horses, his goal to follow in the footsteps of his recently deceased mother. She was headed for the Olympics before an accident while riding took her life.

Deadfall by Lyndon Stacey.Linc keeps his horse elsewhere due to his father’s disapproval of equine pursuits and consequently becomes close friends with the family where he boards his horse.

When one of the young girls who straps for him at competitions ends up in a coma on account of some tack thieves, he finds himself investigating who the attackers are. No surprises, this brings on a heap of trouble for the young man.

Stacey’s novel is a really interesting read as well as extremely informative. For the equine enthusiast who perhaps isn’t familiar with the world of one and three day events, a lot of explanation goes into the book to bring you up to speed with rules and regulations, details of jumping courses and even gear used on horses.

The book is a long one – nearly 500 pages – but flows well and it wasn’t one that seemed to drag at any point. The characters are interesting and entertaining and the storyline is well researched and believable.

You can’t beat a fictional read that is entertaining and causes you to learn as you read.

Author: Lyndon Stacey
http://www.lyndon-stacey.com/
Fiction – Thriller.
In my library? I don’t own it yet as this was a borrowed copy but I’ll be on the look out for all that Stacey has put out on shelves so far. There is noticeable swearing throughout the book but otherwise it’s fairly friendly to the horse obsessed young adult.

“He who always needs a mounting block had better not fall off in the middle of the field.”

Tag: , , , , ,

The Horse Whisperer

While studying in Ireland one of our teachers was clearing out her collection of old books and magazines. In the collection was a copy of the Horse Whisperer and because she was getting rid of it all, I quickly snapped up the copy.

Surprisingly, I’d not read the book before and set to devouring the story around a horse and young rider that were in a spirit shattering accident and the devastated family that sought to fix things with the help of a horse whisperer.

The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans.The majority of this story I really enjoyed and the imagery brought up from the first few pages when the equine related accident occurs was really well written.

It was also interesting to read about the ‘horse whisperer’ and his approach to horses and life in general. There were some… training perspectives, perhaps… that I found worth considering.

I didn’t however enjoy reading about the same character’s justification for a woman cheating on her husband.

Despite disagreeing with the way the characters’ relationships were panning out, I continued the book, eager to read how this traumatised horse was to be reached and hopefully restored to a happy individual.

The relationship with the young girl and her horse was amazing to read about but the ending of the book was for me a large disappointment, a cop out and I couldn’t see myself reading the book again.

Author: Nicholas Evans
http://www.nicholasevans.com/
Fiction
In my library? Without wanting to be flamed (and please understand that this is just my opinion), another no thanks. I strongly disliked the end of this book but was surprised to find that it was changed for the movie. The morals written throughout are too detailed and not appealing either.

“You cannot train a horse with shouts and expect it to obey a whisper.” – Dagobert D. Runes

Tag: , , , , ,

Rodeo Rocky

Kirstie is back in the action with another wild stallion in Rodeo Rockey, the second in the Horses of Half Moon Ranch series.

Attending a rodeo with her mother, best friend Lisa and the guests of Half Moon Ranch, Kirstie disagrees with the treatment on the horses and one in particular but isn’t allowed to leave with her mother. The rodeo was a highlight for the guests and consequently to keep them happy, the Scott family stays put.

This results in a rash decision to purchase one of the horses – Rocky – to stop him from a potential future as a rodeo horse where he was being treated as a piece of meat rather than a living, breathing animal.

Rodeo Rocky, Jenny OldfieldThe second book in this series looks into the environment in which animals are treated in such situations and the potential end result for them. For those who aren’t familiar with rodeos, it opens their eyes to what can happen to such animals that are used in events such as bronc riding.

Upon the purchase of the horse by her mother, Kirstie takes it upon herself to work with the stallion in a non threatening way. She slowly gains his trust and is able to introduce him to the items that he was resisting so strongly at the rodeo – a saddle and bridle.

The young girl’s approach to the horse and how she gains his trust is well written. It’s also lovely to read the encouragement to act in such a way towards horses to receive the best result in the long run.

The only query I had with the story was the stallion being put out with all the other horses at the ranch. I could understand if it was a stallion with only geldings or only mares but to have a mixed group, I believe a wild stallion would have conflicted with the other males in the group to show his dominance over them and own the mares.

The connection Rocky developed with Kirstie’s favourite gelding was well written though and showed how quickly a horse can develop such a strong bond with another horse.

The book built up to the point that I couldn’t foresee a happy ending with regard to the stallion and it was great to read of Kirstie’s completely selfless decision; her plan to do what was best for Rocky.

Another really entertaining read by Jenny Oldfield, Rodeo Rocky kept me interested until the end, finding it hard to put the book down.

Author: Jenny Oldfield
http://www.jennyoldfield.com/
Fiction
In my library? Absolutely! I look forward to purchasing the next few in the series that have been written by Jenny Oldfield and will be keeping an eye on others that come out. A great book for teens passionate about their horses.

“If you have it, it is for life. It is a disease for which there is no cure. You will go on riding even after they have to haul you on a comfortable wise old cob, with feet like inverted buckets and a back like a fireside chair… when I can’t ride anymore, I shall still keep horses as long as I can hobble about with a bucket and a wheelbarrow. When I can’t hobble, I shall roll my wheelchair out to the fence of the field where my horses graze, and watch them.” – Monica Dickens

Tag: , , , , ,

Wild Horses

The first of the Horses of Half Moon Ranch series. To live on a ranch where you’re able to horse ride daily, going out with clients of the property – I wish! Wild Horses details such a ride in which Kirstie ends up trapped – due to a landslide – with a herd of wild horses.

The troubles dealing with clients who ‘think they know better’ while on a trail ride ring true and I can’t help but think that the leaders of the ride handled that particular client with a lot more diplomacy than I would have!

The descriptions used on the first trek throughout the initial couple of chapters of the book help you to picture the ride as if it’s real. What I struggled to find so real however was Kirstie’s actions with a wild stallion that she ended up caught with.

From a realistic point of view, I couldn’t personally picture any wild horse allowing such contact when instinct would be screaming to stay away. If the natural response of flight proved to be unfruitful, I would expect the frightened animal to move into fight mode and consequently found the first half of the third chapter to be unrealistic – but this is fiction and allowed a little poetic license.

Wild Horses by Jenny OldfieldThe feel of the book is great, with a determined young female as the lead role and someone who’s obviously horse crazy and willing to do what it takes to make sure the animals they love are looked after.

Although Kirstie isn’t caught up too long in the after affects of the land slide, the beautiful black stallion is and the rest of the story details her work to get him free which results in the meeting of some interesting characters and situations that test her strength.

The book was well written conjuring up images of the lovely environment in which it was set and I look forward to reading the second which will shortly be reviewed also.

Author: Jenny Oldfield
http://www.jennyoldfield.com/
Fiction
In my library?  Sure!  A lovely book to read, I’m sure Wild Horses is the start of a great series that’ll have horse crazy young girls rushing out to get the latest book of the series after devouring all others.

“A little horseplay… the way best to enjoy a summer day!”

Tag: , , , , ,

I Want a Pony

The first of the Pony Pals series, this story starts out with Lulu unhappily stuck at her grandmother’s house while her dad is away on an exciting adventure that she should be on also.

I Want a Pony, Jeanne Betancourt.Finding her grandmother to be ‘too proper’, Lulu feels stifled and sets out exploring the town, stumbling across a pair of girls who have their own ponies and a track between their two houses that seems to be used only by the pair.

Desperately loving horses and wanting one of her own, it’s not too long before Lulu discovers a beautiful pony in a nearby field.

Days later she is travelling the same path and discovers the same pony to be in danger. Unsure whether to stay and try to help or go and seek out someone who may be better suited to help the pony, Lulu is eventually recognised as the figure that saves the pony. Recognised by all it seems but the financial owner, the father of a young girl.

The race is shortly on to convince this same man that Lulu would nurse the pony back to full health and perhaps even be the one to own her, to be able to join the other two and their ponies and become pony pals, three that have a secret track between their houses that can be used to ride and meet up.

The story is a great lead in to the series and is well suited to pre teens being of simple language and about similar aged young girls who are pony obsessed.

Author: Jeanne Betancourt
http://www.jeannebetancourt.com/
Fiction
In my library? Sure! Although I’m yet to read them all, I have sixteen of the first seventeen in the series and would imagine them a hit amongst pre teen horse crazy girls.

“Horses lend us the wings we lack.”

Tag: , , , , ,

Polo

When carrying out my first yearling preparation in late 2003, I got to talking with the woman I was living and working with about my interest in Polo.

Honestly, I have never seen a match – whether in person or on film and I am still far from knowing all the rules but this book was suggested to me as an interesting fictional read that was focused around Polo.

Polo by Jilly CooperI did learn the basics of the game which was great and Jilly Cooper has written in some great characters, ‘the heavenly twins’ being very amusing. The main character’s stint in Argentina I also found to be of interest in the book.

However, I decided to remove this fictional piece from my library finding the focus to be a lot more on the interrelationships between the players and rich characters that surrounded the sport.

This wouldn’t have been a concern if the writing didn’t go into so much smutty detail. It’s hardly a book I’d want a teen or younger horse fanatic to be reading.

Nor would I want one to be interested in polo and stumble across this book expecting to learn about the sport. For me reading the book once was enough.

Author: Jilly Cooper
http://www.jillycooper.co.uk/
Fiction
In my library? No thanks; too much smut, not enough horses.

“A polo pony is like a motorbike with a mind of its own weighing half a ton.”

Tag: , , , , ,

The Silver Brumby

This is one of the first horse books that I remember reading and rereading and reading again. Set in the high country of Australia, the book focuses around the nuances and lifestyles of the Australian wild horse, the brumby.

The Silver Brumby by Elyne MitchellThowra, the first born creamy horse out of the cream mare Bel Bel is born into a world where men roam the high country in search of brumbies that they can rope and take for their own. A world where every other stallion would be doubly against him due to his unusual colouring.

Realising that time was against her – after all Thowra would be naturally weaned within a year – Bel Bel sought to teach her son as much as possible to have him wise to good grazing areas, sensing danger and escaping into thin air.

The author Elyne Mitchell brings the reader in alongside the wild horses, opening their eyes to a world where you continue to move, seeking out the best grazing; where stallions fight for their mares and dominion over particular pastures and are constantly evading their hunter, man.

These horse books are different in that you’re reading from the horse’s realistic point of view – survival and reproduction are the main focus.

I love that the areas mentioned in this novel are places that you can actually visit and also where brumbies do indeed roam. These truths bring credibility to the story and make it that much more interesting a read.

I’ve read four of the Silver Brumby series and deem this to be my favourite although all I will quite happily sit down and read again when time permits.

Author: Elyne Mitchell
http://www.blaze.net.au/~sasami/brumby/
Fiction
In my library? Perhaps the story that started the addiction in the first place. You’ll find the Silver Brumby and (eventually) all others in the series amongst my collection. The series is one I’d also consider child safe and happily have any young person reading.

“A silver brumby is special… but he will be hunted by man and horse alike, and must be stronger than both…” – Elyne Mitchell

Tag: , , , , ,

The Danger

I think I should be reading my Dick Francis novels in order of year published rather than alphabetically, but oh well.  I’ve recently finished The Danger and so far have found this novel to be slightly different to the rest – a good kind of different.

The Danger, Dick FrancisThe main character, Andrew Douglas of Liberty Market is used to dealing with kidnappers, negotiating ransoms and freeing hostages.

He is not so familiar with the horse world – in fact, rather far from it.  This doesn’t stop Andrew finding himself from the outside looking in as each victim seems to link back to the racing industry.

Another great read with some very amusing characters, The Danger was further made interesting due to the main character being someone who knew not much about horses at all.  Often changing countries, the different locations and characters along the way added to the novel, rather than detracting and making things confusing.

Not surprisingly, the horse related parts of the novel where convincing and the terminology correct when relating to horses in different countries.  As for the investigating side of things – as someone who is ignorant in area, your guess is as good as mine.  The actions of the characters were easy to picture though and didn’t seem far fetched.

Finding this to be a single book written by Dick Francis, rather than one of his series, I’m rather disappointed, actually.  The main character is very likable and another novel featuring Andrew Douglas of Liberty Market would be welcome in my opinion.

Author: Dick Francis
http://www.dickfrancis.com/
Fiction – Crime.
In My Library? You bet.  A bit of swearing throughout the book but otherwise pretty harmless, an interesting read and one that will keep you going until you reach the end.

Check out other book reviews and what is currently in my equine library.

“Words are as beautiful as wind horses, and sometimes as difficult to corral.” – Ted Berkman

tag: , , , , ,

Come to Grief

The author of 41 novels, Dick Francis is a name that has only really become familiar to me over the past couple of years.  I found a hard back cover of Shattered for sale at a cheap price and the interesting story that revolved around a glass blower had me curious until the end.

I now have 24 of his 41 novels and will eventually have them all in my library.

Come to Grief cover.Come to Grief focuses on the jumps jockey turned investigator, Sid Halley who it seems has bitten off more than he can chew when accusing a close friend of some horrific horse related crimes.  Of the half dozen or so books I’ve read by Dick Francis, the hero of the story is of course someone you’re hoping will catch the villain in the end.

Despite being the ‘good guy’, it isn’t all easy and Francis does a good job of making his main characters real, likable and flawed.

Giving you the ‘whodunit’ at the start of this novel, it was a great read to discover alongside Sid Halley, how to prove the guilt of the accused and how things pieced together.

Although focused around racing in the UK, the book lists famous race courses such as Flemington, Churchill Downs, Longchamps, opening the reader’s eyes to famous tracks around the world.  Although not particularly a horse novel, these gorgeous animals are the victim of the crime the book entails.

Although not particularly horsey, the book does focus on the lifestyles of racegoers and owners and is a very entertaining read.

Author: Dick Francis
http://www.dickfrancis.com/
Fiction – Crime.
In My Library? Definitely.  Not full on horse related; a great read and one I’d be happy to let any age child or adolescent read through without fear of them reading something inappropriate.

Interested in non fiction books that may be worth adding to your equine library?  Take a look at Lori’s Library of Horse Book Reviews.

“In the trojan horse story man entered and touched the inside of a horse, but to see a horse in high spirits is to have the horse enter and touch the inside of a man.”

tag: , , , , ,

In Search of a Wild Brumby

As someone who’s collecting as many horse books as possible with the view to have them available in a library on my property for all to read, it seemed it was about time I started to review the books I own… and other horse related books that I’ve read.

The plan for my library is to have a room full of books (hopefully in excess of 800) that line the walls and on a day that the weather doesn’t allow horse riding, all the agistees and clients of the riding school will be able to spend the day in my library just reading about horses.

Recently I was checking out a friend’s packed bookshelves while at her house and stumbled across In Search of a Wild Brumby.  Even though I had four on the go at the time, she insisted I borrow it and there was no rush with regards to getting it read and back to her.

In Search of a Wild Brumby, Michael Keenan.

Once I started to read it, I realised returning it wouldn’t have been an issue due to the book being hard to put down.

As someone who grew up on the likes of the Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, it’s fascinating now at 23 years of age to read about these places in the high country but from a non fiction point of view rather than the fictitious series I adore.

Keenan after being asked his opinion on the mass shooting of brumbies in the Australian High Country in a culling effort, struck out to meet those who inhabited the areas of northern Victoria and just over the New South Wales border that brumbies were found.

Through meeting such people his plan was to find the small number of remaining brumbies scattered over the country and observe them in their natural environment to determine if they were detrimental to the high country land.

A great look at the start of horses in Australia and our horse riding history, the book has been a great read and caused me to want to go check out some areas in Northern Victoria that I hadn’t before known existed.  I think the Blue Duck Inn will have to be on the list with some planned horse riding.

In Search of a Wild Brumby is well worth the read.

Author: Michael Keenan
http://www.michaelkeenan.com.au/
Non Fiction
In My Library? Absolutely!   A very interesting read with some great Australian history.

“Ride a wild horse against the sky, hold tight to his wings before you die, whatever else you leave undone, once ride a wild horse into the sun.”

tag: , , , , ,