Thursday, January 23, 2014

My daughter is obsessed with horses. What books might she like to read?

This post has the most hits of any post I've written in the years I've been blogging so I thought it called for an update. I once again enlisted the help of my voracious reader of horse books, my daughter. 

My daughter devours horse books. We've got them all. So I thought I'd try to give you a list with a little something for every age. Most of the comments come directly from my 11 1/2 year old daughter (now 13 1/2 as I update this blog) since I haven't read most of these books. Many we originally found at the library. The Wellesely Library has a great horse book list. Others we stumbled upon through Amazon recommendations. At the end I've included my favorites for grown ups. Some of them you will love wether you are a horse person or not. These are just plain good books. And reading a good book about horses will help any non-horse obsessed parent relate to their horse obsessed child a little more. All titles are linked to Amazon. Several of the books are only available as eBooks.

Early Readers

Keeker by Hadley Higginson - Pre-reader to early reader.  Fun bed time stories.

Pony Pals by Jeanne Betancourt - These were written awhile back.  There are at least 20 books. Similar to Keeker, pre - early reader.

Horse Diaries - 10 books, each written by a different author.  The books are not related to each other, each being about a different horse.  My daughter's favorites are #2 Bell's Star and #10 Darcy.

Elementary School

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry - Marguerite Henry wrote many wonderful horse novels starting with this one which won the Newbery Award and was originally published in 1947.  My daughter enjoyed all the Misty books but didn't really like her other books.  Elizabeth recommends Misty of Chincoteague, Stormy: Misty's Foal and Misty's Twilight.

Wildwood Stables by Suzanne Weyn - There are 6 books in this Scholastic series and was the first series Elizabeth really got into.  She thinks these are good for 3rd grade and up even though the main character is a 13 year old girl.  It takes place in a hunter lesson barn.

Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan - This book is about an orphan girl who lives in an orphanage with a barn.  Elizabeth says it's a really good book.

Running Horse Ridge Series by Heather Brooks - There are 3 books in this series appropriate for 4th grade and up.  The main character's mother died when she was a baby and she lives with her dad.  She's a dressage rider.

Chestnut Hill Series by Lauren Brooke - There are 6 books in this series which, while appropriate for 4th grade and up, is about bratty girls.  This was not one of Elizabeth's favorites.

Middle School (Elizabeth read many of these in 5th grade)

Heartland Series by Lauren Brooke - There are 20 books in this series which Elizabeth says are more sad and realistic.  The main character ages from 12 through high school during the series.  Her family owns a horse rehab center so it's about caring for the horses.

Thoroughbred Series by Joanna Campbell - 59 books in the original series and 15 books in the sequel Ashleigh series.  These are nice books about a girl whose family raises race horses.  Appropriate for 4th grade and up.

Canterwood Crest Series by Jessica Burkhart - This series has 20 books and has been Elizabeth's favorite for awhile.  It's a little Dana Hall (local boarding school with equine program) meets eventing.  There is some basic teen content - romance, social stuff - but appropriate for 5th - 8th grade.

Timber Ridge Riders Series by Maggie Dana - So far there are 8 books in this series.  Elizabeth wrote an email to the author last summer and she wrote back!  The stories are about two 15 year old girls who are eventers.

Horses of Oak Valley Ranch Series by Jane Smiley - These are excellent books.  There are 5 of them so far starting with The Georges and the Jewels.  Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist who has always owned horses.  Her editor asked her to write a young adult horse series since they are in such high demand.  If only all series were of this caliber.

Indefensible by Rebecca Frankeny - I read this one to make sure it was OK for E.  The writing isn't the best but even I enjoyed the story.  It's about best friend eventers and their horses.  Good for 5th grade and up but the older the girl the more she'll really get the story.

Bittersweet Farm by Barbara Morgenroth - There are 6 books in this series for horse lovers.  There is definitely some boy girl stuff in these books so better for late middle school.  The girls live on a horse farm, they start off doing hunters and eq then one ends up doing dressage.  Elizabeth is hooked on these books.

The Shadows Breathe and The Shadows Fall by Kathleen Marentes - These books focus on training show horses, primarily Saddlebreds and Arabians.  There are story lines which include horse abuse and drugging and people who work to stop the abuse.

Turning on a Dime by Maggie Dana - By the same author as the Timber Ridge Rider series, the main character travels through time to the Civil War era.  Another favorite of Elizabeth's.

Show Jumping Dreams by Claire Svendsen - This is a series of over 20 books. They're all good and flow one to the next. A girl loses her sister and mother and ends up living with her father and accumulates 4 horses. There are some mean girl dynamics, boys in the later books.

Young Adult

Shadow Horse and Whirlwind by Alison Hart - These are definitely young adult books, again, according to Elizabeth who read them at age 11.  The main character is a teenaged girl who ends up with a foster family who runs a rehab center for animals.

A Circuit by Georgina Bloomberg - Young adult, 8th grade through high school.  I bought one of these for Elizabeth and made the mistake of not pre reading it.  There was a scene with a keg party and some heavy boy girl stuff.  My sons discovered the problem and we pulled the book.

Dancing with Horses by Toni Mari - There are currently 3 books in this series about a college aged dressage rider trying to make it to the North American Junior Young Rider Championship.

Alex and Alexander by Natalie Keller Reinert - This is a 4 book series about life at the race track. Alex, the main character, is in her mid-twenties.

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert - This is the only book currently available in this series focused on eventing. It takes place in Florida and the main character has always dreamed of having her own farm. She is trying to make her way as an event trainer.

Nadia and Winny by Rachel Eliker - This two book series (Headed for the Win and Road to the Ragalia) is about an event rider moving through the upper levels who changes places with her horse (think Freaky Friday, equine addition).

Great Books for High School Kids through Adults (ranked by how much I enjoyed them)

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley - This is my all time favorite book.  I reread it every year.  I don't know if I love it because I love horses or just because it is such a great book.  She writes about the horses as though they were human characters and it is awesome.  It's about horse racing but really, it's about horses and the people who live with them.  So well written and I learned a ton about horse racing and training.

Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts - This is one of those random books I bought having no idea what it might be about.  I wanted to read it to make sure it was appropriate for E and I got totally hooked.  It's your typical - and true - underdog story about an amazing horse saved from the slaughter truck who went on to win many times at Madison Square Garden.  Again, maybe I loved it because I love horses but I think anyone who loves a good, well written story would embrace this one.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand - I'm guessing you've read the book or seen the movie.  The book, as usual, is WAY better than the movie.  Another great underdog story.  Super well written non-fiction tale of the triple crown winning race horse.

Horse People by Michael Korda - Another book I randomly picked up because it had a horse on the cover.  I was so pleasantly surprised by this book written by the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster.  He tells numerous stories about his interactions with horses and horse people.  A rider himself, he has some good stories to tell - from fox hunting in the South to riding in Central Park in New York.  I've read criticism of this book for being more about wealthy people and their lifestyle rather than about the connection between people and their horses but I enjoyed it anyway.  I think it's a horse book non-horse people can enjoy.

Falling for Eli by Nancy Shullins - This was a lovely memoir about how a horse can come into a life and completely change it. Nancy Shullins tells her story with sensitivity and humor. I don't know if a non-horse person would get as much out of this book but it would probably be a valuable read for anyone with a horse person in their life. It might give you some perspective on the depth of the relationship between horse and rider.

And that's my list! Happy reading for you and your horse obsessed child!



  1. Hi Kristie - thanks for the great list of horse books for all ages! Growing up, my favorite series was The Thoroughbred Series! I've read many books on your list, but there are definitely some I haven't heard of and I will be adding them to my "must-read" list. I've also read some great horse-books that aren't on your list and I would definitely recommend. I keep a horse-book review blog on my website at:

    Also, your daughter may enjoy my book - Lucy's Chance (Red Rock Ranch, book 1). It's the first in the series and more information can be found at:

    Happy Trails!

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  3. That's quite a comprehensive list, thanks for sharing! I wonder if I might add another for interest's sake?

    I write a series called the Free Rein series ( that is about 3 girls and learning to ride and care for horses.

  4. Thank you! This was just the list I needed!!!

  5. I love horses and horse books thanks for a great list

  6. Thank you for this list - I have an 11 year old who devours horse books and loves new series!

  7. Forelock Books also have a marvellous range for all ages

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  9. Thank you, Kristie! I'm a horse owner who's also an English teacher, and I am planning a summer reading and writing course in which I will incorporate my real horses as we read a horse book together and also enrich our writing with assignments on topics we encounter throughout the book. It will be completely online and for grades 6 - 8. I haven't made a firm decision about the book as of yet (still deciding if we will read a classic or a modern work), and your list of horse books has given me more to stack on the decision desk! I really appreciate your time in putting such a comprehensive list together!

    Dawn Hamilton

    1. Dawn - What a wonderful idea!! We brought our horse trailer to a Girl Scout meeting once and the kids really learned something outside their usual area of interest and it was so cool for them to learn more about what their classmate does. Grades 6-8 can be tough. The classics are harder to sell to non-horse kids at that age. I'll ask Elizabeth what she might suggest. Maybe she should take the class!

  10. Thanks, Kristie! I'd love Elizabeth's input. Thank you for offering! I've taught middle school and high school for years (and I've also done quite a lot of private tutoring), and I have to say that I really like the middle school age group. I like them all, but middle school is my favorite; plus, I have more experience teaching them than other age groups. You are right that they can be tough! I can honestly say that I've never felt as though they were hard to teach. I have a very good rapport with this age group, and that really helps. I had an equestrian club at the middle school where I taught, and it was the largest club at the school, so I understand completely what you mean about bringing horses into the lives of kids, even when they're outside their usual areas of interest. I'm super excited about this class, and I think you're right that a classic might not be the right choice, especially for summer. I can't wait to hear what Elizabeth has to say. Without a doubt, the courses I've taught in which I've incorporated horses are some of my most successful courses in terms of knowledge retention for the students. They really turn on to horses! Elizabeth is certainly welcome to join my class. I'd love to have her! I'll give you a deep discount since you've already been such a big help and are offering Elizabeth's opinions as well. As you know, the students themselves are the best source of information for these types of things! I look forward to hearing from you and Elizabeth and will also send you the syllabus when I have it ready and all of the details about the course. Thanks again!

    Dawn Hamilton

  11. Hi, Kristie,

    To give you an idea of how I've structured the class, below is my advertisement for the course (formatting is destroyed during the copying and pasting process, but the text gets the message across! :)). If you would like to receive a course description flyer, then please just let me know, and I'll be happy to provide one to you.

    Reading and Writing Enrichment Online Course

    Live, Instructor-Led, Online Instruction

    Class Presentations will Feature Real Horses – You’ve Never Seen a Reading and Writing Course Like this One!

    Guided Reading Assignments Every Week and Writing Assignments Every Two Weeks

    Grade Levels: 5 – 8

    Course Duration: Seven Weeks

    Course Dates: June 13 – July 25, 2016

    Course Times: Monday and Thursday at 2:00 p.m., Central time

    Each class session lasts one hour.

    Book: A Good Horse by Jane Smiley, 1992 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

    You’re invited to attend the online orientation web conference scheduled on Tuesday, May 3, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. Central time. During this orientation, the instructor will provide more details about the course and will answer your questions. This is a great way to meet the instructor before enrolling your child in the course! You’ll have the option of logging in via computer or calling in via phone. To sign up for the orientation web conference, please send an e-mail to Please include your name and e-mail address in the body of the e-mail so you’ll receive details about where to sign in for the orientation web conference on May 3rd.

    - Also -

    In the meantime, you’re encouraged to request a course description flyer which explains many of the course features and details. Please send an e-mail request to You’ll receive your flyer via e-mail right away!

  12. Hi, Kristie, I just wanted to follow up and let you know that my reading course (mentioned in the post above) is scheduled to begin on June 13th. If you or anyone else is interested, please let me know. Visit for more information. I'll schedule another orientation web conference this month for those who are not yet registered. Registration lasts through May 30, 2016. Hope to see you there!

  13. Great list. Id like to recommend my series North Oak for your YA/teen list. Thoroughbred's heir apparent. -Ann Hunter

  14. Hi, I'd like to recommend my book, Midnight Magic - Be Careful What You Wish For! A great read for 10 yo to adult. A special treat for Morgan lovers!

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  16. Love this list! My daughter loves horse books too and reread a lot of the books we already have.

  17. Cool stuff you have got and you keep update all of us.

  18. Thank you! We were trying to remember the series Chestnut Hill and finally came across your blog with the answer! :)

  19. if she is a big horse fan i think she will like the black stallion series by walter farley and the young black stallion by steven farley

  20. and i think she will also like phantom stallion and phantom stallion:wild horse island by terri farley

  21. and plus i am a big fan of the thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell too

  22. i got a bit sad when Wonder´s Pride almost died in book 10!

  23. and i also think she will like is horse dairies