It’s no secret that horse people can be some of the most voracious readers out there. After all, who doesn’t love a good horse book? Books about horses that overcome adversity, about the special bonds they share with their humans, and about the many lessons we can learn from training our own can really reinforce everything we feel about horses.
There are so many amazing horse books out there that any list putting them together is bound to miss some of the classics. This one, however, comes from our own personal recommendations, and what we feel are ten of the best horse books you can find for different audiences. There’s something here for all horse girls and boys looking to sit back and enjoy a good story.
Saddle up, because these horse books are going to take you through a pretty emotional ride:
"National Velvet" by Enid Bagnold
Written for horse girls everywhere, National Velvet is a timeless classic about chasing your dreams with a horse as your partner. Originally printed in 1935, the book became the basis for one of the very best horse movies of cinema’s golden age. With a cast of characters that are heartfelt, charming, and endearing, this is a story you’d want to share with kids of all ages.
The novel tells the story of Velvet, a shy young girl who wins “The Piebald”, a rambunctious horse who ends up pulling her out of her shell. After seeing Piebald’s natural talents, Velvet finds herself dreaming of training him to be a champion showjumper. The pair eventually wins the Grand National and become instant celebrities, and Velvet has to choose between fame and doing what’s right for her horse.
National Velvet’s all-ages appeal is a big reason why it’s one of the most beloved books about horses ever published, and its entertaining narrative makes it all too easy to finish in one sitting.
"The Horse Whisperer" by Nicholas Evans
Another horse book that inspired one of the most famous horse movies ever, The Horse Whisperer is the story of how a girl and her four-legged best friend learn to overcome trauma and find healing in one another.
Grace and her horse Pilgrim are the victims of a terrifying accident, leaving the girl injured and withdrawn, and Pilgrim violent. Grace’s mother Annie takes the two to a “horse whisperer” in Montana known to help horses find their peace. The pair’s journey towards healing takes them on an emotional adventure that illustrates how deeply powerful the bond between a horse and their human can truly be.
Every page of this novel was written with a love of horses, and it shows in the way author Nicholas Evans treats Pilgrim as his very own character. The strength of his relationship with Grace is so pure that horse girls everywhere are left wanting to have the same thing with their own horses! Be ready to have a good cry while you’re flipping through the pages, because the love in each of them cuts deep.
“From the Horse's Point of View” by Debbie Steglic
Speaking of horse whisperers, this book from expert horse instructor Debbie Steglic teaches you how to communicate with your horse like a pro! Steglic is a proud advocate of natural horsemanship, which aims to strengthen the bond between a horse and its partner through deeper communication.
You’ll learn the different nonverbal cues that horses give to let you know how they’re feeling, and how to identify your horse’s personal learning style. By the end of this book, you’ll have a much better grasp of your horse’s unique personality, which in turn improves both your relationship and your performance together.
Equestrian readers have found Steglic’s writing to be extremely helpful for dealing with their “stubborn teenagers”, as well as for boosting their confidence as riders and trainers. It’s one of the best educational horse books out on the market today.
“Horses Never Lie: The Heart of Passive Leadership” by Mark Rashid
If you want to learn even more about training your horse in a more humanistic way, you’ll definitely want to check out this book by Mark Rashid. Instead of using “alpha leadership”—in which we use techniques that dominate our horses—the author advocates “passive leadership” instead. This style teaches you how to be “chosen” by your horse as its leader, in the same way that a herd chooses a leader from among one of their own.
In this book, you’ll discover how Rashid developed these techniques through his intimate experiences with horses, and how it’s helped him train horses that genuinely trust humans. The most compelling part about it all, though, is the way he imparts these lessons to you. Instead of writing a how-to guide, Rashid chooses to tell you stories of his encounters with horses, and some of them can be pretty remarkable. That alone makes this one of the best equestrian books you can start your equine education with.
“Chosen by a Horse” by Susan Richards
If you’re looking for a book written by a horse person for horse people, you can’t go wrong with this dramatic tale of how one woman helped heal a damaged horse, and in doing so healed her own broken heart.
Susan Richards shares an emotionally driven memoir of the day she rescues former racehorse Lay Me Down, who was severely malnourished and sick from neglect. As she helps nurse the steed back to health, she rediscovers what makes her own life worth living.
Richards does her best to do her fellow horse girls proud, and really captures the spirit of the powerful bond between humans and the horses they love. It’s full of laughs and tears, but most of all, it’s chock-full of inspiration.
“The Horse of My Dreams: True Stories of the Horses We Love” by Callie Smith Grant
This anthology of true stories from fellow horse people is the perfect companion for those days you just want to chill at the stables, bonding with your horse. Editor Callie Smith Grant has put together a heart-warming collection of horse stories by authors from all over.
Aside from the usual stories about friendship that we hear from horse girls and boys, there are also tales that talk more about the issues that surround horse conservation and the ethical treatment of these wondrous animals. With more than 30 different stories within its pages, you’ll find yourself coming back to this horse book again and again.
“Wild: The Legendary Horses of Sable Island” by Drew Doggett
Sometimes, horse people just want to sit back and look at these majestic creatures. The dignity, grace, and power they represent in their beautiful forms is simply breathtaking. This coffee table book, featuring photos by award-winning nature photographer Drew Doggett, offers you an artistic look at some of the world’s rarest, purest horses.
Sable Island is a small, isolated island off the coast of Nova Scotia, and it’s home to one of the last herds of truly wild horses. The island isn’t occupied by any humans, allowing the horses to run free and unfettered. They’ve been protected by law since the 1960s, and interaction with them is heavily controlled.
Doggett offers you an unprecedented up-close look at these feral beauties in his book, making it a must-have for anyone with a love of horses.
“How to Get Your Leg Over: Diary of a Wimpy Eventer (The Wimpy Trilogy)” by Victoria Brant
While most horse books tend to romanticize the travails of owning a horse, Victoria Brant’s blog, Diary of a Wimpy Eventer, goes all-out in its honesty—and often to hilarious effect. Horse girls reading her entries can no doubt relate to the back pains, the stink that sticks to your clothes, and very, very sweaty days she describes in great detail.
How to Get Your Leg Over is a compilation of some of Brant’s best blog entries, compiled and edited to give readers the full, unfiltered, and often smelly experiences. There are pages where you’ll find yourself putting the book down just to scream, “That’s so me!”, and chuckle your way across every chapter.At the end of the day, sharing in Brant’s own misadventures with her horses helps us to laugh at our own troubles, and to remind us that it’s all worth it.
“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy
This illustrated book is a lot more thought-provoking than it looks, with some readers calling it the modern-day equivalent of The Little Prince. Through conversations with a mole, a fox, and, yes, a horse, a young boy learns valuable lessons about life, love, friendship, and kindness.
The four unusual friends go on a long walk to search for the boy’s home, and share many nuggets of wisdom along the way. Each character is a delight to read, from the very greedy mole, to the paranoid fox, to the strong, kind horse. By the time you reach the story’s magical ending, you’ll feel like you’ve grown up quite a bit—and for the better. Books about horses and other talking animals don’t usually get this deep, but when they do, they’re instant classics.
“Out of the Clouds: The Unlikely Horseman and the Unwanted Colt Who Conquered the Sport of Kings” by David Rosner and Linda Carroll
If you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned Cinderella story, Out of the Clouds is one we can guarantee was written for horse people like you. It shares the story of real-life underdog Stymie and his trainer Hirsch Jacobs, and how the two unexpectedly made it into the history books and the Racing Hall of Fame.
From the moment the impoverished Hirsch meets Stymie, you’ll be sucked into how the pair navigates the colorful world of the 1940s racing scene—replete with gangsters, gamblers, and the occasional celebrity or two—on their way to becoming the first-ever Thoroughbred to win an unprecedented $900,000 in prizes. Hirsch and Stymie were blue-collar icons of their time, the little guys who came up big against their more privileged competition.
Authors Linda Carroll and David Rosner do a bang-up job of capturing all the thrills of their story, immortalizing both horse and trainer in an undeniably entertaining read. It’s one of the finest books about horses to come out in recent memory, and is sure to have a spot in “best horse books” lists for many decades to come.
These are just a handful of the books we’d recommend for horse owners, equestrians, and horse people in love with these majestic animals. If any of these titles aren’t in your horse book collection yet, make sure you add them to your library. You won’t regret it, and you’ll find yourself appreciating horses even more after reading them.