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Forgotten Favorites: Horse Books of the Past

Find out about some lesser-known horse stories that are beloved by readers of all ages.

By Samantha Johnson | May 15, 2014

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Nearly every horse enthusiast is familiar with the most well-known horse stories: Black Beauty, National Velvet, the Black Stallion series, Misty of Chincoteague, and King of the Wind, as well as modern favorites such as the Saddle Club series. These books remain perpetually in print, populating library shelves and online bookstores and endearing generations of readers.

Unfortunately, some of the best horse stories of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s have disappeared from bookshelves and libraries, sadly resigned to an "out-of-print” fate that obliterates these titles from modern view. Yet these beloved horse books still hold a place in the hearts of horse-crazy bibliophiles everywhere. Let’s take a trail ride down memory lane and become reacquainted with a few forgotten favorites that can still be found in used bookstores and online:

Galloping Gold Galloping Gold, by Patsey Gray
As a prolific author of horse books, Patsey Gray is fondly remembered for her many titles, including Double Standard, Jumping Jack, Star Lost, Horse in Her Heart, and others. Galloping Gold, while possibly not her best-known book, is memorable for its heartwarming premise and the devotion and dedication that the book inspires. And who doesn’t love a story that involves a gorgeous palomino horse?

Golden SovereignGolden Sovereign, by Dorothy Lyons
While Dorothy Lyons penned a dozen horse-related novels, her most widely known title is undoubtedly Golden Sovereign, thanks to its release as a Scholastic paperback in the 1960s. Golden Sovereign incorporates all the elements of an enduring classic: likeable characters, an elegant rescue mare with a mysterious past, and a stunning palomino stallion with enormous potential but an unpredictable disposition. Through plot twists and turns, high points and lows, this book—the third in Lyons’ Connie McGuire series—embodies all the facets of a perennial classic.

The Sweet Running Filly The Sweet Running Filly by Barbara Van Tuyl and Pat Johnson
This book and its sequels (collectively known as "the Bonnie books”) bridge the literary gap between mysteries and horse fiction, and introduce the characters of Julie Jefferson and her "sweet running” filly, Bonnie. Originally published in the 1970s, the books achieved substantial popularity (The Sweet Running Filly originally sold over 200,000 copies) before going out of print. But today’s fans are in luck, because the Bonnie books are in the process of being republished, and the first two titles in the series are again available in paperback.

Scarlet Royal Scarlet Royal by Anne Emery
Anne Emery is most remembered for the popular teen fiction that she produced during the ‘50s and ‘60s (including such titles as Sorority Girl, Going Steady, The Popular Crowd, and First Orchid for Pat), but she also penned a well-loved horse story entitled Scarlet Royal. Despite the fact that horse-related fiction was not Emery’s area of specialization, Scarlet Royal resonated with readers thanks to its realistic characters, intriguing plot device, and characteristically happy ending. While horse-savvy readers may note (and chuckle at) a few equine-related factual errors in the story, this satisfying tale deserves modern-day consideration.

So, think back—which books do you remember from your childhood? Which ones will you track down and discover all over again?

Further Reading
Collect a Barn of Classic Horse Books
30 Best Horse Books

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. She’s also collects vintage children’s books. Follow Samantha on Twitter: @miraclewelsh

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Reader Comments

Kelly    Battle Ground, WA

2/13/2015 1:30:02 PM

Afraid to Ride by CW Anderson, the Horsemasters by Dan Stanford. Took awhile to track them down, but thank goodness some people hang onto their old books. Thanks for reminding me about Scarlet Royale!

Larita    Twelve Mile, IN

2/13/2015 7:21:59 AM

I own Golden Sovereign and recognizes the cover as soon as I saw it, got lots of old horsey books from the 60's!

Cindy    Harrah, OK

2/13/2015 5:20:17 AM

I still have a copy of "The Red Pony" I've had it since 7th grade, a teacher gave it to me, it was very old back when I got it, it still has an old burlap like cover..

Margie    Repton, AL

2/13/2015 1:10:56 AM

I have Scarlet Royal and Golden Sovereign and many others. I have been grabbing them up at used book sales for years. Library book sales are a good place to find them. I don't know what I am going to do with them or my extensive horse reference book collection, especially on Arabians, since I am almost 63 and have no horse loving relatives to pass them down to!

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