I’ve just begun writing my next rural romance which features a heroine determined to resurrect the long-defunct local hunt club’s point to point race, albeit with a twist that not everyone approves of.
To help put me in the mood, I’m reading a history of the Mount Gambier Hunt Club, of which I was a once a member. All the adventurous tales and amusing anecdotes, including those of my great-grandfather Lou Hein, grandfather Lloyd aka “Torchy”, and uncle Clarrie, who were also members, got me thinking about my favourite horse books.
So here they are!
I cannot express how passionately I felt as a child about this story of a boy called Alec Ramsay and a stallion simply called the Black, who find themselves washed up on a barren island after a storm wrecks the ship on which they were travelling. Slowly the pair form an unbreakable bond. When they finally make it home, it’s discovered that the Black is one super-fast horse. Soon, he’s pitted against the best in the land in a race that will have you turning those pages at a gallop. Gawd, I get teary just thinking about it.
Seriously, if it was in any way possible, I would have married this book. I loved it and the entire Black Stallion series that much. I also wonder if this was the book that made me want to be a writer. The daydreams I had over it! Certainly it has a very special place in my reading heart.
Ah, how can one go past the absolute naughty deliciousness that is Rupert Campbell-Black, Cooper’s much-adored equestrian star and complete bounder? While the story is actually more about Jake Lovell, and his rise in the professional showjumping world, it’s his arch-rival Rupert who looms large. Rupert is truly awful sometimes, but he’s brave, smart, funny, unapologetic, deeply loyal to his friend Billy, and fabulous in bed, and we can’t help but forgive him.
What’s great about this story is that there are more like it, including Rivals, Polo and The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous. Given Cooper writes lovely big fat books, that means hours and hours of reading delight. Wheee!
I always imagined myself writing bonkbusters like this and it was a huge shock to discover my stories turned out nothing like Cooper’s. Ah, well…
French Relations and its follow-up Well Groomed are very much in the vein of Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles. There’s lots of posh carrying-on and plenty of laughs, plus lashings of lovely romance. French Relations begins with Tash French heading to her eccentric mother’s Loire chateau for a summer break. On arrival she finds Alexandra has bought her a wholly unsuitable, half-mad stallion to ride. When sexy eventer and Tash’s devastating teenage crush Hugo Beauchamp turns up, he’s conned into giving Tash lessons. But there is more than one eligible male in the chateau, taking Tash’s love life on a rather twisted journey.
Ignore the horrid cover (the original was far better), this is great, addictive fun!
Once more, this is about love and trust between a boy and his horse. Both of whom kind of end up saving one another.
It’s a beautiful tale and a guaranteed heart-warmer. But if I recall correctly, I think it was the second book in the series, Thunderhead, that I liked most.
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
Reading or hearing that never fails to send a shiver down my spine, and when discussing horse stories it would be impossible not to include this classic Australian poem. It’s exciting and romantic, set in an iconic location, and features a brave hero and his “small and weedy beast” of a mountain-bred horse, both of whom prove their merits in spectacular fashion. Nothing like an underdog to stir an Aussie heart!
The language is wonderful. The rhythm of Paterson’s poem draws us in and sweeps us along, and it’s hard not to get teary over the drama of it all. A must read.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t include Black Beauty, it’s because I never really warmed to that book. I also haven’t included The Silver Brumby because, somehow, I never discovered it. How that tragedy occurred is one of the great mysteries of my life. Equine-obsessed me miss a horse book? Impossible! Yet somehow it happened.
Do you have a favourite horse story or movie? I’d love to hear about it. A horsey girl can never have too many equine tales!