Horses, alongside dogs, are the most beloved of all animals in England. There is something beautifully majestic about them as their shiny coast glints underneath the sun and their powerful muscles tense and flex as they gallop at heady speeds across countrysides and racetracks.

When we picture war heroes and old-time heartthrobs we picture them proudly astride tier horses, ready to sweep us away. These animals capture the imagination like no other. 

So many times we hear the story of an underdog, such as Mon Mome, that managed to defy expectations and beat Grand National odds– giving us hope that anything is possible with heart and spirit. They really can create fairytale endings.

As such, here are some of our favourite books about horses of all time:

Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

There is quite possibly no book about horses that is more famous than Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. This was written about a horse that had been abused and contemplated the stories of other abused horses he had known. However, it was swiftly turned into a children’s book and made into a TV show. Unfortunately, Anna Sewell received only £40 in total for the book, despite its success and died not long after it was published.

National Velvet, Enid Bagnold

This is a story about a horse and its eccentric family that is charming, albeit pretty unbelievable.

Although Velvet’s win isn’t necessarily believable in terms of the big win, it is the family, the siblings and her parents and Mi that are truly people of their time. They are completely happy to live with the strange and muddy circumstances. She writes this book boldly and vividly and even the most unbelievable parts are described in such depth, chaos and detail that it utterly compels.

The Kellys and the O’Kellys, Anthony Trollope

Although this book is very much about life in Ireland – money, women and families, some of the best action in the book takes place on the turf. Dot Black is arguably one of the very best horse-racing characters in the history of books – smart and colourful. He always offers good advice on marriage – and racing.

This book makes it clear that Trollope knows all about horses and hunting and his novels always describe scenes beautifully.

Carrot for a Chestnut, Dick Francis

Francis has written many a great novel but this short story, which was originally published in Sports Illustrated, is arguably one of his greatest works. This tells the story of two brothers that are the sons of a trainer. The father favours one son over the other and is given the better horses to ride – so the other jealous brother chooses to poison his brother’s horse… 

It is filled with psychological insights and plot twists that make it a must-read, especially if you’re a fan of horses.

Saratoga Fleshpot, Stephen Dobyns

Although Dobyns is more famed for writing poetry, back in the 1990s he wrote a series of comical detective stories, all based in Saratoga, NY. All of them are brilliant in their own way, but this one is one of the best.

Saratoga Fleshpot is all about the Saratoga horse sales – and a cheeky two-year-old horse that buts the bottom of anyone that stands near him, and the amusing Victor Plotz. Not only does he demonstrate his skills with language, but it truly shows his in-depth knowledge about horse racing which shines through. 

Talking With Horses, Henry Blake

There are many horse whisperer books out there to choose from, but this one stands out. Henry Blake, born in the 1920s, grew up surrounded by horses and made a business of turning rogues into useful animals.

He had a natural touch  – and on one single day, he took out five unbroken horses fox hunting simply because he saw it as the chance to jump on the horses, one by one and give them something active to do. He is a wonderful advocate of humane training methods and is a great read for any horse owner or trainer.