Jane Smiley’s Top 10 Books about Horses

Black Beauty

Andrew Knott as Joe Green in a scene from Channel 5’s adaptation of Black Beauty. Photograph: Warner Bros

Jane Smiley writes for The Guardian:

When I was learning to ride horses, manuals were essentially worked-over cavalry manuals: horses were to obey, and the rider’s job was to know how to give orders. That changed in the 1960s, when trainers who had never been in the cavalry began to pay attention to horse behaviour. For my first middle-grade series, The Horses of Oak Valley Ranch, I wanted to focus on that, so I set it in the mid-60s and introduced trainers with new techniques.

My new book, Riding Lessons, is about Ellen, a girl who loves horses but has to beg to be taught how to ride. She is what was once known as “contrary”: she wants to have her way and knows how to get it (sometimes by subterfuge). I wasn’t her as a child, but I would have loved to be her friend.

The first three on her list are:

1. The Manual of Horsemanship by the British Horse Society and Pony Club

2. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

3. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold

Read the article for her entire list and commentary: Top 10 books about horses – Jane Smiley picks her favourites

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