The only thing we like more than riding horses and writing about horses is reading about horses! Bookworms, settle into your comfiest armchair and dive into our favorite reads.
Laurie Prinz, Editor
One of my all-time favorite horse books is—of course!—Seabiscuit, written by my friend Laura Hillenbrand, who used to write for EQUUS. Seabiscuit—which tells the story of a racing champion of the late 1930s and early 1940s—is a wonderful book that people will enjoy whether they love horses or just want a good read.
Another of my favorites is William Nack’s Big Red of Meadow Stable: Secretariat, Making of a Champion, which was published in the mid-70s but has been re-released more recently. Nack, who started out as a newspaper writer, did deep reporting on 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat and this book reads like a great novel.
Christine Barakat, Senior Editor
When I was in fourth grade, I read the book Summer Pony by Jean Doty, over and over until it literally fell apart. As a horse-crazy girl who had no way of owning her own pony, the story of a girl whose parents leased one for the summer and converted their garage to a stall made the dream seen attainable. A few years later, my parents did lease me a pony (who was boarded and not kept in the garage) so I became the protagonist in my own story. Many years after that, when I came to work at EQUUS, I saw some drawings by famed equine illustrator Sam Savitt. I immediately recognized the style; He illustrated the edition of Summer Pony that I had.
Another book I loved as a girl was A Horse Named Doodlebug. I remember I ordered this from the Scholastic Book Club flyer in school. There weren’t often horse books to choose from so I was super excited. From what I can remember of the plot, a young girl buys a down-on-her luck pony at an auction and is then disappointed to find out it is gaited and uncomfortable to ride. She “teaches” it to drive, only to find out later it’s a locally famous Hackney pony. It was a memorable lesson for a young me about appreciating any horse or pony in your life, even if their “gifts” might not be immediately apparent to you.
Lauren Feldman, Digital Editor
Choosing Black Beauty feels like a bit of a cop-out, but it truly is one of my favorite horse reads! I come back to this classic over and over again and I haven’t gotten tired of reading it yet. In fact, I love this book so much that I wrote my graduate thesis on it (I’m a horse nerd to the nth degree.) I will happily tell anyone who wants to listen all about the proto-feminist slant of this Victorian novel and how Ginger is one of the coolest fictional horses out there. This is the only book that author Anna Sewell ever published, and it has certainly stood the test of time. It’s so beloved for good reason.
I love getting lost in sprawling novels with rich character development, and that’s exactly what Horse Heaven delivers. This book explores the racing industry through the perspective of its colorful players, including good trainers and corrupt ones, animal communicators, up-and-coming jockeys, racehorses of all calibers and even a Jack Russel Terrier. It’s a fascinating portrayal of an insular industry that made me laugh as many times as it made me tear up. I know you’ll fall in love with Justa Bob as much as I did.