I am a child of the city. Growing up in Manhattan, my horse crazy childhood days were mostly fueled by books. Not the kind of books you find in book stores today — teenage paranormal romance, anyone? Nope, I read horse books. Even today I can picture the place in the stack of my local library on York Avenue where the horse books were shelved. I can remember walking home with a huge stack of hardcover books, their pages smudged with the fingerprints of too many small girls to count. I would lie on my bed, inhale the aroma of paper, and let my imagination soar.
I read everything. Every Walter Farley book, every C.W. Anderson book, every Marguerite Henry book, and the famous ones like My Friend Flicka and Black Beauty.
Who didn’t dream of being Alex Ramsey in the Black Stallion series? Or Steve Duncan, taming the glorious Island Stallion. It didn’t matter to me that most of these stories featured horses and boys. I had no trouble imagining myself being the one who magically connected with the wild, troubled horse.
Another book that sticks in my mind, Riders from Afar by Christine Pullein-Thompson, told the story of
an American family who rents a Castle from an English family for the summer. The American kids learn a lot from their new English friends, and the “Yanks” turn out to be better riders than had been anticipated. The book culminates with a foxhunt, which seemed completely out of reach to me at the time.
Other books that I remember reading include “Harlequin Hullabaloo” by Dorothy Lyons. That poor girl trying to dye her lovely pinto into a solid color! And then there was “Afraid to Ride,” a book that I realize that has inspired the novel I’m writing now, where the protagonist is overcoming her fear caused by an accident.
What about you? What were your favorite horse books growing up?