We have some avid pony book readers among our Tuesday evening Twitter live chat hour participants, so, with a view to compiling a Christmas Pony Book Gift Guide, we asked them which books they'd recommend for Christmas presents, here, in no particular order, are the books they suggested:
Only Heroes and Horses by Natalie O'Rourke
Published by: Sphere
The story of Park Lane Stables, about hope, heroes and lots of horses.
Natalie O'Rourke was an ordinary little girl from Birmingham in all respects save one, she was lonely. When she discovered how much she loved horses, she decided she wanted to grow up and run a riding stables. She wanted her stables to cater for children and adults with disabilities, additional needs and anyone who needed a friend - people you might not expect to find riding, but who she knew could find happiness through horses, because she had.
Full of guts and optimism, Natalie fought tooth and nail to achieve that dream in the face of some hefty tragedy. heartbreak and hardship. Even the Covid-19 crisis couldn't slow her or her league of fearless Park Lane colleagues down - despite barely surviving financially in lockdown, the stables "Pavement Ponies" paid visits to the community on a mission to cheer their neighbours up, and tirelessly supported the NHS. But when the news came that the landlord was selling the stables, and that Park Lane horses and their humans would be evicted unless they found a whopping £1,000,000 to buy the plot, it seemed a mountain too high even for this plucky team to climb. Could they win the support of the nation and with it their fight to save the stables?
Our reader says: “I first came across Park Lane Stables when they hit the news
trying to raise £1,000,000 and was overjoyed when, despite all the ups and
downs, they succeeded in saving the stables. Loved every minute of reading this
book and very much hope that one day there will be a sequel. It’s a must read
especially for those who love an “against all odds” story.”
Pony in my Pocket by Shona Lawson
Published by: Shona Lawson
We have all wanted something we just can't have. Follow Lilly on a journey of
wanting her very own pony. A farmer has a pony that is due to be shot, but with
Lilly not even able to afford riding lessons it seems that rescuing it is impossible.
Will she be able to solve two problems at once? What adventures could she
have if she had her very own pocket-sized pony? And how could such a small
pony even exist....?
Our reader says: “If you’ve ever dreamt of having your own pony read this book!”
At the Paddock Gate & Mine for a Month by Jenny Roman
At the Paddock Gate Horse Stories for Grown Ups
Published by: Slightly Turquoise Publishing
What can a horse teach you about yourself and your relationships?
Steph hasn't ridden since she was a child, and is struggling to beat her nerves.
Drew is attempting to come to terms with his grief.
Laura has successfully shut out the demons from her past - but now it's time to
This collection of eight stories explores the partnership between some special
horses and people who care for them. If you love horses, you'll love this book
because the equine characters are integral to the human relationships in each
story. For those who devoured pony books as children, this collection moves on
to explore themes which will resonate with adult readers, without losing sight of
the most important aspect - the horses themselves.
Our reader says, “ This book is awesome, I read it in an evening. I love the fact
it’s short stories so if I had wanted to I could have read a couple of stories at a
Mine for a Month & other pony stories by Jenny Roman
Published by: Slightly Turquoise Publishing
Five fantastic stories for pony-mad kids from 10 to 110!
When Holly has a chance to own Saracen, a beautiful Arab gelding, she ought to
be the happiest girl in the world. There's only one problem: her riding! She has
just one month to prove she's good enough.
Isabelle has it all: a thoroughbred jumper, a huge indoor school, and her own
horse lorry. Sophie has Pewter, her adorable cob, and a muddy field - but she's
determined to prove Pewter is just as good as any thoroughbred.
Liam wants to get to football practice, not hang around waiting for his kid sister
to finish her riding lesson. But something is about to change all that - something
that will make Liam question what he really wants.
Aimee has a talented new pony. But Rowan doesn't feel like her pony and owning
him is becoming a nightmare. The charity fun ride is only a few weeks away, but
how can it be fun when you're scared to ride?
Freya longs for a pony of her own but there's no money for a real pony - only
dreams isolated and unhappy. Freya finds an unlikely ally, and discovers she's
not the only person with a vivid imagination. But can dreams ever come true?
Our reader says, “Fab short stories that brought back so many memories for me
of being a horse mad child.”
Little Viking Horse by Catherine Holland-Bax
Published by: EponaWise Ltd
Sold to a new home, Icelandic horse Fleygur longs to find a horse-talking human
who can understand him. Instead he endures cruelty and is finally abandoned.
Rescued by eleven-year-old Roger, Fleygur begins to believe he has found "the
one". But can they each overcome their past trauma? Can Roger hold on to his
little Viking horse and will Fleygur trust Roger enough to follow him into a burning barn...?
Our reader says: ”Catherine Holland-Bax’s book “Little Viking Horse” is based on
an Icelandic horse owned by the author. Icelandic Horses are a tough small
stocky breed unique to Iceland. This book is about one horse “Fleygur” & his life
from birth, being sold to a cruel owner to being rescued by a young lad who took
time to understand him & they bonded strongly together. I loved this book, it was
hard to read at times when he was so cruelly treated but it was great to see a friendship grow between boy & horse. Fully recommended to be read by either children or adults”.
First Term at Ravensbay (The Ravensbay School Stories) by Cressida Burton
Published by: Independently published
"Well done, Paige!
We're absolutely thrilled to tell you that you're the winner of our Ponies! Ponies!
Ponies! magazine 25th year anniversary national 'Pony School' competition.
As you know, first prize is for the magazine to pay your fees in full for the
Ravensbay Boarding School and Equestrian Academy...."
... and so eleven-year-old Paige Buchanan is catapulted from her quiet Edinburgh
life, living with her mother and attending the local primary school, into the
privilidged world of Ravensbay where she will discover a whole new vocabulary:
snacks are 'tuck', homework is 'prep' and the words 'competition girl' aren't meant
as a compliment!
Convinced she'll never fit in, Paige is all set to give up her place at school and
return home when she sees a blue roan mare running wild in the fields. It's love
at first sight for Paige, but the mare, Blue Angel, is to be sold as dangerous
unless someone can save her.
Suddenly Paige has a reason to stay, but can she face her fears, make friends
and, ultimately, save the pony of her dreams from a terrible fate?
First Term at Ravensbay is the first title in this brand new and modern equestrian
boarding school series which will follow Paige and her school-mates from their
very first day in year seven, through school years, term by term. Paige's
dorm-mates are remote and prickly Taryn, very much in the shadow of her
famous showjumping sister and horribly homesick; misfit swot Anna, sent to
school by her wealthy, well meaning aunt; and Paige's nemesis, pony diva
Savannah, whose mother is a school governor and will do anything in her power to get the 'competition girl', kicked out of school.
Along the way you'll meet the teachers, prefects, Will the stable lad, and all the ponies! And there's Blue Angel, a damaged blue roan American Quarter Horse. Paige's determination to save Blue Angel gets her, and her new friends, into trouble, not to mention demerit points for her house, as well as multiple bruises and far too many visits to the headmistress's office. But, in the end, it will all be worth it...won't it?
Our reader says: “ A splendid cross between those popular boarding school stories like Malory Towers and pony books, thoroughly enjoyable.”
The Yard - How a Horse Healed My Heart by Grace Olson
Published by: Brown Dog Books
The comical tale of a new mum on her journey from post-natal depression to the
dawning of her self-worth as she discovers adventure, friendship and the healing
power of horses.
Join Grace as she battles her negative thought patterns and fears amongst a
backdrop of eccentric characters, pampered farm animals and the glorious
Wisdom comes from unexpected sources leading Grace to a psychological and
spiritual awakening of the true meaning of motherhood. While an elderly,
opinionated pony teaches her how to love her daughter, a scary young sports
horse teaches her how to relax and enjoy life again. Just watch out for the goats...
Our reader says, “It’s a fantastic book! I know for a fact as I’m just about to readthe last chapters. It’s funny, moving, informative and just so inspiring.
I’d recommend it to anyone”.
Rowan the Exmoor Pony by Dawn Westcott
Published by: Halsgrove
Rowan is a moorland Exmoor pony, born wild and free in Exmoor National Park.
He enjoys a carefree, idyllic start to life with his herd and forms a special bond
with his brother Robin as a foal. The autumn pony gathering arrives with a shock
and sets Rowan on a completely new life adventure - meeting new pony friends,
learning to trust people, discovering agility, becoming a ridden pony and
experiencing all kinds of activities - and a fair bit of mischief too! But what
happened to Rowan's brother Robin - and will we ever find out?
This enchanting story is written in rhyming verse and told in Rowan's own words
and illustrated in colour throughout. It's an important fundraiser for the Exmoor
Pony Project and the large herd of Exmoor ponies in their direct care.
Our reader says: “The Exmoor Book “Rowan the Exmoor Pony” written by
Dawn Westcott for the Exmoor Pony Society. She tells the story of a colt kept
back from the annual round up, Dawn has written the account in poetry form as
if Rowan is talking, she writes about the round up, the gentle taming of the wild
ponies & then goes on to explain more about the protection of our wild Exmoor
ponies. Again a book written for children but loved by all ages. I learnt a lot from
Safe by Vanessa Harbour
Published by: Firefly Press
In the chaotic last days of World War II, Jacob and Kizzy are tricked into a life or death journey.
Far from home they are attacked and only just escape. They hide in a seemingly deserted mansion, but they keep hearing strange noises... Investigating, they find it shelters not only forty abandoned horses but a small band of lost children, displaced by the war.
With danger on every side, can Kizzy and Jakob keep them safe and get them all home?
Our reader says: "Just finished this book & wow it's so good. Two of my fav subjects in a book, horses & people living in occupied countries during WW2."
The Wild One by Terri Farley
Published by: Aladdin Paperbacks to be released 2023
When 13 year old Samantha returns home to her family's cattle ranch in Nevada, she's worried. She moved away two years ago to recover from a bad fall off her beloved mustang, Blackie, and she's still not sure she can get back in the saddle. Her new colt doesn't seem to like her, and the other ranchers treat her like the boss' spoiled daughter and Blackie has been missing since that fateful day.
But that's just the beginning. When Sam suddenly finds the fate of a mysterious mustang - who may or may not be the missing Blackie - resting in her hands, she has to learn to be a real cowgirl, ready or not.
The classic theme of a girl and her horse is set against a backdrop of mustangs, tumbleweeds and a West that is still wild.
On a moonlit night, a mustang comes to Sam. Is it Blackie grown up and gone
wild? Is it the legendary phantom stallion? Or could it be both?
The Wild One is book 1 of Terri Farley's Phantom Stallion series.
Our Kindle reader says: "Believable characters, fantastic description of Nevada
and life on a cattle ranch, with a realistic ending. Written for young adults but I'd
recommend this book for anyone who loves horses, especially wild horses.”
Storm Horse by Jane Elson
Published by: Hodder Children’s Books
For Daniel Margate, life is muddled because everything moves: letters, numbers, even classrooms sometimes. Daniel is dyslexic, and most of the time, school just doesn’t make sense. He’s in the bottom reading group at school with other kids who are trying to make sense of it all. There’s Akin who can’t sit still for more than two minutes and is almost always getting into trouble, sports star Ste is recovering from a car accident that left him learning how to walk again, and Molly-May’s school uniform never fits and is a regular at the local foodbank.
But when a mystery horse gallops into their lives one stormy evening, it changes everything. Desperate to keep him safe, they form the Secret Horse Society and vow to protect this amazing creature inspired by stories of the great racehorse Seabiscuit, they name him Jammie Dodger and find they work together, nothing seems impossible. Even the Big Read Off at school. They just need to keep their new horse friend a secret.
How hard can it be to hide a horse, anyway?
Our reader says: “Horses really do change lives, don’t they? Heartwarming story, loved all the references to Seabiscuit, my favourite horse film, the horse being named Jammie Dodger really made me smile, I was sad to finish this book (but in a good way)”.
Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray
Published by: Zephr
Twelve-year-old Dido dreams of becoming the first female charioteer at the great Circus Maximus. She’s lost her heart to Porcellus, a wild, tempestous horse she longs to train and race. But such ambitions are forbidden to girls and she must be content with helping her father Antonius - the trainer of Rome’s most popular racing team, The Greens - and teaching the rules of racing to Justus, the handsome young nephew of the Green’s wealthy owner. When her father is brutally murdered, she is forced to seek refuge with an unlikely ally. But what of her dream of Circus triumphs and being reunited with the beloved horse she left behind in Rome? And the threat to her life isn’t over as she faces a powerful and terrifying new enemy… the emperor Caligula.
Our reader says, “An exciting adventure that both history lovers and horse lovers will thoroughly enjoy, if you liked Caroling Lawrence’s The Roman Mysteries, and you like pony stories you’re going to love this, the first in Annelise Gray’s Circus Maximus series”.
The Place of Peace: Change Yourself; Change Your Horse by
Currently Kindle only
This is a book about horses, and it is a book about life. It is, at its heart, about
having a happy horse, but it is also an exploration of the human psyche. Its
central thesis is that the greatest bit of kit anyone has in training and care of a horse is the human mind. And its most delightful discovery is that all the elements that go into true connection and relationship with your horse will enhance your human relationships as well.
It was written during the global pandemic of 2022, and it reflects some of the stresses and strains of that strange and unsettling year. It also demonstrates that one of the most potent antidotes to turbulent and uncertain times is to dedicate yourself to something above and beyond yourself - in this case, a grand red mare and her merry herd.
It is a book about resilience and creativity and imagination. It has moments of goofiness and it veers off on occasional tangents into the purely speculative. It does not shy away from disaster, but it gallops always toward hope.
It is, as are all the Happy Horse books, about love. And it does not apologise for that.
Our Kindle reader says, “I first came across Tania and her Red Mare on Twitter, where she posts really beautiful photographs so this was a must read for me, and, I would say it’s a must read for anyone who hopes to improve their relationship with horses”.