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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

Marguerite    Cambridge, MA

5/21/2014 9:36:12 AM

I still have my copies of The Sweet Running Filly and Golden Sovereign...another favorite of mine was The Horsemasters...wonderful books with a focus on working hard for your dreams and good "horsey values"! There is a new series of books called Crown Prince and Crown Prince Challenged that remind me of these in style and tone.

Cyndi    Valencia, PA

5/21/2014 9:34:30 AM

I loved all the CW Anderson books and I also grew up with the series of Billy & Blaze books - great stories and illustrations!!!

Lisa    Mint Hill, NC

5/21/2014 7:09:58 AM

My all-time favorite horse book growing up was "Fly-by-Night," by K.M. Peyton. That one really struck a chord with me since I was very much like the heroine, and in a similar situation with a non-horsey family and no real support of my passion! I also enjoyed all of C.W. Anderson's and Marguerite Henry's books when I was younger, too, of course!

Kristy    Clay City, IN

5/21/2014 6:18:41 AM

Talk about bringing back memories! Walter Farley and Margaruite Henry were my top two authors! For vacation one year we went east so I could see Assategue (sp) Island! Great memories

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