I would imagine I am not alone in still having shelves full of the favourite pony books I read as a child.
Since I didn't have my own horse when I was young but was an avid reader I couldn't get enough of books like "King of the Wind" by Marguerite Henry, "The Horse and his Boy" by CS Lewis, the "Jill" books by Ruby Ferguson, KM Peyton's Flambards and Fly-by-night books and so many others and even now I get a nostalgic thrill when I occasionally re-read them.
So it was really exciting on Saturday to receive a parcel containing this...Victoria Eveleigh. She has written several other stories involving horses and ponies - including the Katy's Exmoor trilogy - and is a friend and almost-neighbour, as she and her family have a farm not a million miles from Rockley.
About a year ago she got in touch with me because she was researching a new book and was wondering whether the rehabilitation of a pony by taking it barefoot might be worked into the story. She and her husband Chris came over one day; we talked horses, hooves and rehab and they met some of the horses (and their owners) who were here at the time.
I'm not going to spoil the story by giving too much away but I will say that I absolutely loved reading this book. Its in a modern setting (one of the traumas of moving to the countryside is the appalling lack of internet connection and the perils of having a patchy mobile signal and no TV reception ring oh-so-true!) but as a story it took me straight back to being a kid again.
It has the right combination of the mysterious and the down to earth and its impossible not to identify with Joe, who is a really likeable hero. A nice touch is that its not a "girly" story and doesn't gloss over the fact that keeping horses is hard work - Joe is much more of a grafter than his sister which is why he ends up looking after the ponies!
As a bonus, one of the central characters is a sympathetic farrier who gives hoof-friendly advice about grazing and nutrition and recommends that Joe work his pony without shoes to improve her feet - so what's not to like?!
If you have children, grand-children, nephews or nieces who are into horses and ponies (or if you are an adult who wants a bit of escapism) then I would highly recommend this - its available on Amazon here and no, I am not on commission, its just a thoroughly good read :-) I am already looking forward to the next book in the trilogy, which is out in July...