There aren’t many smells better than leather tack and horse manure but we’ve got to say, you can’t beat that lovely book smell, regardless of if it’s a musty old favourite or a brand new purchase.
Smells aside, who doesn’t love settling down with a good book? Whether you are looking to expand your equestrian knowledge with an instructive hardback of are looking to escape the daily grind with a trashy novel and a glass of white wine for 30 minutes, there isn’t a better way to unwind than with a good book. Apart from horse riding of course…
So here are the top 8 that have made it onto our list of the must haves for any horse lover’s shelf.
1. A Girl & 5 Brave Horses – Sonara Carver
If you have ever seen the film ‘Wild Hearts can’t be Broken’ then you will already know a vague version of this book. True to form though Disney got many aspects of the story line wrong though, so even if you have seen it, the book is still definitely worth a read.
A girl & 5 brave horses is the true 1st person account of Carver, who worked in Atlantic city back in the 20’s, as part of a horse and rider high diving act. For those of you who aren’t familiar with ‘horse diving’ this was a popular attraction where horses would diver from sometimes 60 foot high platform into a pool of water (don’t worry, animal rights activists put a stop to this in the 70s). One of the first female horse divers Carver was a huge success, touring nationwide, but was sadly blinded from hitting the water with her eyes open and detaching both retinas. She did however continue to dive horses despite not being to see for another 11 years. This is an inspiring story which is also a brilliant history/horsey combo.
HTH Rating : An inspiring story
2. Dead Cert – Dick Francis
The first novel written by ex-jockey racehorse, Dead Cert is a thrilling read that you can’t bear to put down – the plus side of this is that you get really good at doing things one handedly. There are a ton of Dick Francis novel from which to choose but we thought the first book would be a good a place as any to start.
Set in the world of horse racing, the story revolves around the mystery of who murdered a leading jockey during a steeplechase, with a lot of intrigue, plot twists, a murderous gang and protection racket thrown in for good measure. This ‘whodunnit’ is an exciting read from start to finish.
HTH Rating : A great murder mystery
3. The Man Who Listens to Horses – Monty Roberts
Anyone who has seen, heard, read about or met Monty Roberts will be a fan. The Queen of England included.
We at Horse Trek Holidays absolutely love all things Monty and this book is so good, it’s hard to believe that it’s non-fiction. The Man who Listens to Horses is an absolute page turner, which you don’t always get with an autobiography. There’s not much this book doesn’t include: the birth of ‘join up’, hanging out with James Dean, tales of blackmail, slander, near death experiences, meeting (and working for) the Queen of England and of course some feats of incredible horse training. Extremely hard to put down, you finish this book with a new found respect for this extraordinary man and his extraordinary life.
HTH Rating : An inspirational autobiography
4. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
OK so most people will have already read this childhood classic, regardless if they particularly horse oriented or not and we doubt there is anyone in the English speaking world that hasn’t at least heard of Black Beauty. But it’s such a great story it wouldn’t be a proper book list if he didn’t get a look in.
Beautifully written considering it is told from Black Beauty’s perspective he makes some very wise observations for a horse. It was this style of writing which helped the real life working horses Britain so much as it helped horses be viewed as real, thinking and feeling animals, rather than the machines they were previously treated as. The story of Black Beauty (not to mention Peggy, Ginger and Rory) was written with the specific intention to promote the humane treatment of animals or as Sewell said herself “to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses”.
Not just a great read but this book was intrinsic in aiding the progress of animal rights, you can’t say fairer than that.
HTH Rating: An enduring classic
5. My Year with a Horse – Hazel Southam
My year with a Horse isn’t just for horse lovers as it deals with a number os aspects of life. This book is written by a journalist who was petrified of horses and decided it was time to overcome this fear by loaning a gorgeous horse called Duke. The author herself is then struck by illness, her father has dementia and her mother has a heart attack – it does sound gloomy we admit. Down to earth, injected with humour and very honestly written, this book is about a woman’s love for her horse, family and how to deal with the things that life throw at you. It’s hard to read this book and not feel touched by this woman’s story.
HTH Rating : A feel good read
6. War Horse – Michael Morpugo
Yet another book told from the horse’s perspective, this time set in World War 1 and across 3 european countries. War Horse is the story of Joe, who is sold to the army and is sent to the Western Front. A great story with excellent narrative, exciting, gripping and sad – you should get the tissues at the ready for this one. Brilliant for teens and adults alike, it’s a must read for everyone. We also recommend seeing it in the West End if you can!
HTH Rating : A fantastic historical novel
7. From my Hands to Yours – Monty Roberts
Monty himself recommended this book himself, whilst at the same time saying ‘it’s not an interesting read’. Well it is an interesting read but I know what he meant, it’s not a gripping novel, more of an instructive handbook.
It’s full of useful tips, interesting facts and insightful comments for anyone looking to better educate themselves. You probably won’t devour this book all in one go, but it is definitely a useful one that you may pick up from time to time and read a chapter.
HTH Rating : An interesting and instructive read
8. Riders – Jilly Cooper
Well we never said it was going to be a highbrow reading list did we? Yes, that’s right right a Cooper novel has made it into our top 8 and we’re not ashamed (although getting the kindle version of this book means no one else will see what you’ve got your nose your buried in – you could be reading Proust for all they know).
If you don’t fancy anything too taxing to read then look no further – Riders is the first of a series of romance novels which follows the fortunes of a group of fame and money show jumping stars. Oh and it’s set in Rutshire in the Cotswolds. Yep, we said Rutshire.
They say never judge a book by it’s cover – this one in particular depicts a guy’s hand resting on a woman’s jod clad behind – we will leave you to be the judge of this one.
HTH Rating : A Guilty Pleasure
Well that’s our list of 8 great books for anyone with an interest in horses might like to read. It is by no means a fully exhaustive or comprehensive list, there are so many great horse books out there. If you have a suggestion that you feel should make the top 8 please do let us know!
As always, happy riding!
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