Horses in Fiction

I am admitting to a slight addiction here. I LOVE mysteries and thrillers. No, I am not really a blood thirsty person but I can read a somewhat gory murder mystery without turning a hair. And yes, I sleep with the lights out but I always have a Belgian Tervuren near me so I feel safe even if no other humans are home. No book related nightmares here!

I read mysteries of all types, not just horse themed but I do especially enjoy the horse themed ones with a caveat. If you are going to include horses, particularly as a major part of the book, you should know about horses. If you center the book on a specific horse sport, you need to know that sport. You don’t have to be a Grand Prix level rider to have dressage in your mystery, but you need to at least be an educated spectator.

I always flip to the back inside cover to look for an author biography or search it out at the end of the book. I want some sort of horse connection if the book includes equines. I don’t care if the author has simply owned backyard horses for 30 years. At least that person knows which end of a manure fork to put where! I do realize that people can do research and figure out the equine world but I think that the book misses out on something if the author does not have personal experience. Maybe it is simply the “little” things.

The mysteries by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat, Mrs Murphy) always delighted me. I love Corgis as well as horses so I enjoy the dogs in the stories as well as the horses. Rita Mae is a well-established foxhunter and her earlier mysteries often touched on the fox-hunting world. They have moved away from the horse world quite so much but her “equine moments” always ring true.

I have recently read some books that cover equine mysteries with driving events involved, three day eventing and equine photographers. All of these books gave realistic pictures of the sports and events. The authors’ love and knowledge of horses was evident in the written word. These are the books I enjoy and pass on to my “horsey” friends.

Then, of course, we have the nonfiction equine books. I loved the biography of Snowman. He was an equine hero of my youth and his whole life story is basically an equine fairy tale come true. I am about to start on a biography of Native Dancer. I hope it will give some of the “essence “ of this horse as well as his career data. His son Northern Dancer was my first “equine pinup” on my bedroom wall!

We all have our favorite kids’ equine books. I believe I own everything written by Marguerite Henry. The whole Black Stallion series was also read and reread. Black Beauty is a standard for every horse crazy kid. Smokey was another big favorite. Oh, and Colonel Podhajsky and the Lippizaners! I would love to hear about your favorites, too!

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