Classic Horse Books

Growing up crazy about horses, without being able to own a horse, left me wanting to fill my time with as much horse stuff as humanly possible. This desire for any and everything horse-related drove me to books about horses where I could be transported to far off lands with beautiful Arabians or to Kentucky with sleek Thoroughbreds. Throughout my 'adventures' there have been some horse books that I just can not forget... they are my classic books. Not all of these classic horse books are old but rather their stories are ones I hope you will fall in love with and remember just like I have.   

So, if you love books about horses but need some inspiration for picking one, this list has many tried and true classic horse books. Many of these books have been around for over 20, 30, 40, 50 years and some even longer, but their fun, inspiring, and sometimes even true tales make them relatable and touching books for all generations. Most of the stories are not focused on just the horses but also the incredible people right alongside them. Whether you are an equestrian, someone dreaming about riding lessons, or just a horse lover, there is sure to be a horse book for you.

Do not worry if you have already read classic horse books like Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind, we still have plenty of book recommendations. All of these are horse books that have been favorites of horsecrazy girls for many, many years.

Share your favorite horse book or books on our huge horse book list page or write a comment on the ones you have already read!

You can also take the how well do you know the classic horse books quiz to see how well you know these classic horse books. If you want, you can vote on the classic horse books poll on which classic horse book is the best.

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Black Beauty

If you ask a random person to name a book about horses, chances are this will be the book they name. One of the best horse books out there, Black Beauty, is a story written by Anna Sewell about a horse's life through his own perspective. The book is very touching and has some very sweet moments, but it also shows the evil of animal abuse which makes it appropriate for an older audience. Luckily, there is a children's edition of this classic, which while not written by Anna Sewell is based on her book and still provides a great story.

Goodreads: 3.97 stars out of 5  

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Dark Horses

One of the lesser well-known horse books out there, Dark Horses, was written in the 1990s. This book is a suspenseful and thrilling horse book. The book is mostly set on a horse farm in New Zealand where Kate and her mother end up after her father dies. While Kate is at the farm, she not only discovers horses and an appreciation for them, but she also stumbles upon secrets after meeting a mysterious individual named Helen and her beautiful but wild stallion.

It can be hard to find this book so if you happen to come across it, make sure you read it while you have the chance.

Goodreads: 4.13 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Famous horses of the civil War

We have all learned about the Civil War but chances are you probably do not know the horses that were on the battlefields. The stories and bloodlines of over 60 important Civil War horses are laid out in this book Famous Horses Of The Civil War by Fairfax Downey. You will not want to miss these incredible stories about these horses' strength and bravery during this tumultuous time in United States history. 


Goodreads: 4.33 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

fury stallion of broken wheel ranch

While this book was first published in the 1950s its story is still drawing in readers. The book Fury, Stallion of Broken Wheel Ranch is the quintessential horse book. It starts when an orphan boy is adopted by a family on a horse ranch and he bonds with the wild black stallion on the farm. From there, the boy and the horse go on adventures together.  

Goodreads: 4.08 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble


I am the great horse

I Am The Great Horse by Katherine Roberts is not a classic horse book in its age (as it was published on 2006) but rather its story. Similar to Anna Sewell's book Black Beauty, this horse book is from the perspective of a horse, but not just any horse. In fact, it is from the perspective of Alexander the Great's horse, Bucephalas. The book takes you through Alexander the Great's battles and rule but also explores the relationship we all have with horses.  

Goodreads: 4.34 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

War Horse

You might have seen the movie adaptation of War Horse by Steven Spielberg but never read the book, so why should you? Well the book is more in depth than the movie, as most books are, which in my opinion makes it a point in the book's favor. Additionally, the book is told from the perspective of the horse which gives an additional layer of meaning. 

Goodreads: 4.14 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

The something-special horse

While this book is not as well-known as some other horse books, The Something Special Horse is a touching tale about a boy's effort to save a horse from slaughter. In the book, the boy Charles bonds with a gray mare that his father purchased for the meat market. His bond with the horse sends him on a quest to save the horse. Published in the 1980s, this horse book appears to be intended for children but does talk about the buying and selling of horses for slaughter. 

Goodreads: 3.71 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

The horse god built

If I had to take a guess at the most well-known race horse of all time, I would choose Secretariat. Sure, there are other famous race horses such as Man O 'War, Seabiscuit, and American Pharaoh, but Secretariat is the horse that racing and non-racing fans alike seem to be drawn to and know about. So it is no surprise that there have been so many books and movies written about him. But this book, The Horse God Built, is different from the others as it explores the journey of Eddie Sweat, Secretariat's groom.

Goodreads: 4.23 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

The big red horse

What? Another book about Secretariat? I told you he is a popular horse. This book, The Big Red Horse, is another book that takes a deep look into Secretariat's life and the people around him, especially his groom. While the author does talk about Secretariat's races and the race horse industry, the bulk of the book is focused on the people and the behind the scenes work they did for this amazing race horse.

Goodreads: 4.16 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

secretariat: The making of a champion

The popular movie Secretariat was based off this book Secretariat: The Making Of A Champion by William Nack. This book dives deep into the horse racing industry, from racing statistics to bloodlines and more. There is so much information in this book and you will come away feeling like you know basically everything there is to know about race horses, but the author keeps the book entertaining.

Goodreads: 4.24 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

the black stallion

The Black Stallion ´╗┐is the first book in the popular Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. If you like action and adventure then this is definitely the horse book for you. Not only does this story offer adventure, from shipwrecks to horse races, but it also looks at the bond humans and horses share. While there are some improbable events in the book, it is still a fun and enjoyable read.        

Goodreads: 4.18 stars out of 5 

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Seabiscuit: an american legend

Seabiscuit: An American Legend is an incredible horse racing book by Laura Hillenbrand. This New York Times bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand may be non-fiction but it certainly reads like a novel. The story of Seabiscuit as a horse no one wanted to an American Icon, and the unlikely people that helped make this race horse one of the best.   

Goodreads: 4.19 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

National Velvet 

Originally published in 1935, National Velvet is a special book that takes readers through a heartwarming tale about a girl with big dreams and an unwanted horse. The book of course goes beyond just the race into what small town rural life in England was like back, family, relationships and more. This book is one that any horsecrazy girl with dreams of riding and competing among the best can relate to.  

Goodreads: 4.10 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

my guy barbaro 

Written by Edgar Prado, who was Barbaro's jockey, this book offers a special look at the incredible race horse Barbaro.  My Guy Barbaro is an incredible true story about one jockey's rise from Peru to riding in the Kentucky Derby, and the events along the way. The book also dives deep into the deep bond between this horse and rider, and how they supported one another through the hard times.  

Goodreads: 4.18 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Justin Morgan had a horse

Justin Morgan Had A Horse is an incredible book by Marguerite Henry. Based on the true story of the founding sire for the Morgan horse breed, this book takes you through the journey of discovering Little Bub, the horse, to the height of his greatness. This is definitely not a book you want to miss reading especially if you want to learn about the history of the Morgan horse.  

Goodreads: 4.04 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

my friend flicka

Another well known and extremely popular horse book is My Friend Flicka. This heartwarming tale is about a boy who struggles fitting in and finds a friend in a horse. While the main story is about a boy and a horse, there is also a lot of lessons on family and relationships. Even though there are several movie adaptations of this book, nothing truly compares to the book. However, I would not recommend this book for younger children.

Goodreads: 4.16 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

king of the wind: The story of the godolphin arabian

Marguerite Henry wrote another incredible classic horse book, King Of The Wind, that is a great story about a boy's bond with a special horse. While the story is fiction, the importance of The Godolphin Arabians bloodlines for today's horses is not. This story will enchant readers with a sweet tale about an incredible horse, a special boy, and their journey.

Goodreads: 4.20 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble  

man o 'war

In this book by Walter Farley, you meet a young stable boy who falls in love with one of the greatest horses of all time, Man O 'War. While the book is a fictional biography of Man O 'War's life, there are many true facts about this incredible race horse that will make you fall in love with him. Originally published in the 1960s, Man O 'War has a great story that has kept people reading it for decades. 

Goodreads: 4.29 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

misty of chincoteague

Perhaps my favorite horse book by Marguerite Henry, Misty of Chincoteague is the first book in a wonderful series. Centered on a brother and sister staying with their Grandfather on the island of Chincoteague, the children are enthralled with a mysterious horse and her beautiful foal. What will happen to the mysterious horse and foal during the annual roundup? You will have to read the book to find out.

Goodreads: 4.04 stars out of 5

Purchase this book at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

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