Whether you’re on vacation relaxing on the beach or killing time in between classes at the horse show, here is a reading list of horse-themed novels to keep you occupied. If you read anything on this list, feel free to send us your review of the book! (Book summaries are from amazon.ca)
The Red Pony – John Steinbeck
Raised on a ranch in northern California, Jody is well-schooled in the hard work and demands of a rancher’s life. He is used to the way of horses, too; but nothing has prepared him for the special connection he will forge with Gabilan, a hot-tempered pony his father gives him. With Billy Buck, the hired hand, Jody tends and trains his horse, restlessly anticipating the moment he will sit high upon Gabilan’s saddle. But when Gabilan falls ill, Jody discovers there are still lessons he must learn about the ways of nature and, particularly, the ways of man.
Riders – Jilly Cooper
Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.
Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.
The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by his loathing of the beautiful bounder and darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having filched each other’s horses, and fought and fornicated their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences during the Los Angeles Olympics.
Summer of the Redeemers, by Carolyn Haines
Along with the sweltering heat of the Mississippi pine barrens, the summer of 1963 brings intruders to Kali Oka Road: The Blood of the Redeemer churchers, members of a secretive religious sect, and Nadine Andrews, a single woman of marrying age more interested in her horses than starting a family.
Both threaten the predictable sameness of this rural, tightly knit community. And both provide irresistible temptation for thirteen-year-old Bekkah Rich, who is willing to risk hell fire in her efforts to spy on the newcomers.
But then her best friend’s baby sister disappears, surrounding Bekkah in a web of kidnapping and murder. Suddenly, summertime antics become deadly serious, and those who were once a curiosity are now tainted with evil.
Riding Lessons – Sara Gruen
As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished. Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father’s New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenage daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables—and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.
But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.
Trail of Secrets – Laura Wolfe
Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched.
Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.
Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. Someone soon discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?
The Perfect Distance – Kim Ablon Whitney
Seventeen-year-old Francie Martinez rides with one of the best equitation trainers in the country, and works as a groom to pay her way. For as long as she can remember, she’s dreamed of winning the Maclay finals in Madison Square Garden—the most prestigious horse event in the country for this age group—and now that it’s her last year to compete, the pressure is really on. But just when Francie needs to focus more than ever, the arrival of a new student at the barn upsets the careful balance she’s created for herself, and soon she’s not so sure if winning is really all that important, much less the point.
Borrowed Horses – Sian Griffiths
When her mother’s MS takes a turn for the worse, aspiring Olympian Joannie Edson moves back to Idaho with her aging horse to be closer to home and family. She has given up everything (career, romance) to pursue her goal of riding for the US Equestrian Team, but now, with no horse to ride and no money to buy or support a young prospect, she finds herself faced with a choice: should she take a chance on a relationship with the attractive stranger pursuing her, or invest her time in training her coach’s abused and violent mare? As she explores each option, Joannie finds that a fully lived life is much like the jumping courses she’s always ridden, every path bearing obstacles that she will have to clear to find her way forward.
Borrowed Horses is inspired by Griffiths’s love of northern Idaho, her experience working for the US Equestrian Team, and her devotion to Charlotte Brontë, whose novel Jane Eyre lends Edward Rochester’s plot line to this novel.
Boys Don’t Ride – Katharina Marcus
17-year-old Tull has loved horses ever since he can remember but as the son of a single mum with more pressing things to pay for than riding lessons he’s never got closer than stroking them over the fence. Until one day a chance encounter with the most unlikely of girls opens the door to his dream. The question is, is it still the same dream? And is he tough enough to prove he’s worth living it?
A Sunday Horse – Vicky Moon
Everyone is looking for that somewhat elusive special mount that will bring them fame and fortune in the Grand Prix ring, a horse for Sunday afternoon, a horse that can be found at the bargain rate of $1500 or more than $1 million. Following the US national horse show and Grand Prix jumping circuit, Vicky Moon starts in Palm Beach with the Wellington Winter Equestrian Festival, moves on to America’s oldest shows in Upperville, Virginia, and Devon, Pennsylvania, then to the Indio Circuit in California, to Long Island for the classy Hampton Classic, down to the prestigious Washington Horse Show, and finishing at the National Horse Show. Just like “Best in Show,” you’ll meet the riders, trainers, owners, judges, and the personalities such as “The Carrot Man,” “The Masseuse,” and the other fascinating characters who follow the horse show circuit. Big names and big money are all part of this intriguing world.
Horse People by Michael Korda
Bestselling author Michael Korda’s Horse People is the story — sometimes hilariously funny, sometimes sad and moving, always shrewdly observed — of a lifetime love affair with horses, and of the bonds that have linked humans with horses for more than ten thousand years. It is filled with intimate portraits of the kind of people, rich or poor, Eastern or Western, famous or humble, whose lives continue to revolve around the horse.
Korda is a terrific storyteller, and his book is intensely personal and seductive, a joy for everyone who loves horses. Even those who have never ridden will be happy to saddle up and follow him through the world of horses, horse people, and the riding life.
Horseplay: A Novel – Judy Reene Singer
When Judy Van Brunt finally decides to leave her cheating husband, she makes immediate plans to quit her teaching job, take the money she inherited from her mother, and run off, leaving a note on her husband’s pillow. There is only one problem: Where is she going?
During her weekly riding lesson, her instructor makes a suggestion just crazy enough to work—and before she knows it, Judy has a position as a groom at an exclusive North Carolina horse farm. There, she shares an apartment with three remarkable women who also work at the farm, and she puts in long hours caring for the horses in addition to learning the demanding sport of dressage from the farm’s owner, a former Olympic champion. Exhausted but fulfilled, she learns for herself that a horse in the barn is worth far more than a husband at home. Her housemates gladly supplement her education with lessons not found in the riding ring, such as how to avoid the farm’s snootier patrons and weed out unsavory suitors. Her devotion to horses is far more rewarding than her marriage ever was—after all, horses never lie or cheat, and even the most hot-blooded stallion won’t kick her when she’s down.
Nevertheless, her new life doesn’t keep her away from men entirely. She finds her early vow of chastity and cheeseburgers weakening as she is drawn to one especially eligible bachelor. But after a few escapades with studs of the two-legged variety, is she really ready to be with someone?
Set against the alternately glamorous and grimy world of competitive horse shows, Horseplay is a jubilant ride.
Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts
Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.