When I was in elementary school, I got the best idea ever. I had quite a few best ideas ever in elementary school, but this is one that actually worked and stuck.
I was watching Beauty and the Beast, and noticed that Belle could read and walk at the same time. How wonderful! I could fit in a half a page from a current read before getting to the computer lab! Belle makes it look easy too. She gracefully avoids water dousing her and a herd of sheep, all the while having her nose stuck firmly in what must be an interesting book, considering the flash-mob dancing and singing around her.
If she could do it, certainly I could.
What resulted was a week of what would now be added to a “Texting and Walking Fails” compilation. I’m just lucky that video cameras weren’t as prevalent in the Stone Age. I’m also lucky that my town didn’t have herds of sheep to add more woes onto my undeveloped skill.
But, eventually, persistence won out and I got better at it. While reading about horses, I could avoid trash cans, instead of becoming quite intimate with them. I could envision galloping across a desert while standing in line without fear of running into the person in front of me.
I say all this to establish that I am incredibly bookish. Even now, as an adult, I go through at least a book a week, if not more. I don’t read and walk anymore (that’s what cell phones are for!) but I still have a voracious appetite. A book on the bed stand—or, at the very least, my Kindle on the bedstand—is a necessity in my household.
Here are a few of my favorite horse-themed books I’ve read:
- Misty of Chicoteague (the series and basically anything by Marguerite Henry)
- King of the Wind (Henry again; not going to lie: any time I see a horse with white on the hind left I still think it must be a fast horse)
- The Black Stallion
- Black Beauty
- Seabiscuit (nonfiction; Laura Hillenbrand is one of the most amazing writers)
- Justin Morgan Had a Horse (Henry again)
- The Horse and His Boy (Part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia)
Of course I’ve read more than I can remember, but these books stand out to me as special and memorable, all in their own way. I can’t tell you if The Wilding was inspired by any one of these books. More than likely, the answer is yes to all of them. I believe that reading a book creates a new vocabulary and new experience into your life that you are unable to shake. I am the product of all of these books and countless others.
Beyond being great books that I would recommend to any horse-loving reader (or any reader, for that matter), there’s a theme in the above list: most of the books, with the exception of Seabiscuit, are for middle grade audiences or younger.
This meant that I was done reading fiction books featuring horses when I was 10. Aside from training books, I didn’t read horse-themed books until I was in my 20s and read Seabiscuit. That’s a huge gap for someone who reads nonstop and is always around horses. I didn’t realize I missed reading about horses until I read Seabiscuit.
Since my childhood, even more horse-themed books have entered the market, especially for young adults. Most recently, Scorpo Races, geared toward young adult, has been released. I haven’t read it yet. It’s in my cue, and it looks like a pretty fun read. I’ve also heard good things about Blaze of Glory for young adults through Good Reads. I hope to read that soon too. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
Of course there are always books where horses are central that aren’t necessarily “horse-themed” that I didn’t mention on this list: Lord of the Rings, All the Pretty Horses, The Red Pony, any Wild West-themed novel (Lonesome Dove, comes to mind), and so on. And don’t even get me started on movies. Or maybe do get me started … that’ll be a topic for another day.
What are your favorite horse-themed books and why? What books do you want to read? Tell me in the comments!