I am not sure when I first had my own Harry Potter moment (‘***** - yer a book collector’), but it may have been when my grandfather solemnly handed me The Arabian Horse in Australia Volume III and said, ‘This is a good book. Look after it’. In awe, I accepted the challenge. I was aged around eight. Yet I think the sickness was born even earlier, as I have another memory from a younger age, I believe, of hunting down the Phar Lap movie companion book in a second hand bookstore and proudly bearing it to my mother. The bookseller kindly gave a generous discount, stating that he knew a booklover when he saw one.
Thinking back, I can’t separate myself from horses, books, or books about horses (and I recently discovered there are books about horse books – joyous moment!). How I remember endlessly re-reading the same books in my small childhood collection, then visiting the library and discovering new books (and resenting the fact that I had to return them), requesting particular books at birthdays and Christmas, and then eventually gaining employment and having the means of buying my own books. I mentioned the term ‘sickness’ earlier and to an extent it is – books consume much of my thoughts (waking and asleep) and resources, and have the ability to send my emotions soaring to the stars then plummeting to the pit of despair. No small exaggeration – I recall the moment an online book search returned a rare title (A Good Horse for Riding – Elizabeth Whitbread) that I have been desperately searching for, for years now. Feverishly I clicked on the link, only to discover the book had already sold, and at a ridiculously low price, too. I nearly cried. I still bitterly regret not being just two days quicker.
But let’s move away from the sickness and towards the pleasure a book collection brings. I cannot tell you exactly when I ‘decided’ to collect books in earnest (I think it was decided for me) as I have been collecting for many years, but that I must, and do. But why do I? There are the physical aspects of course – the smell of paper (curious chemicals in new books, the dust of ages in old); the squeak of fingertips against glossy dust jackets; the hushed but sharp swoosh of pages being turned; the aesthetics of carefully arranged shelves (and many happy hours can be devoted to the arrangement of); the elegant typefaces used in the early to mid 20th Century; the brightly coloured, soft-focussed images of the 1980s. The satisfaction of picking up a precious book that you have chosen for your own, feeling the heft of it in your hands. The physical aspects are so linked to the emotional ones, aren’t they? But what of the intellectual aspects, too? They are there in the words – from whimsical fiction to technical treatises to biographical studies. They are there in the history of the publishing houses and printing presses, the typesetters and the designers and the illustrators. My collection works towards preserving some of that history, I hope, yet I must be thankful for modern technology (namely, the internet), for flinging the doors wide open to just how many equine-themed books exist, and for ease of buying.
Like many, I try to support local businesses and charities. In-person shopping also offers the invaluable experience of being able to examine the potential addition to your collection, whilst, it has to be said, basking in the surrounds of many other books. However, also like many, available funds often dictate the necessity of searching for the most affordable price, which leads us to online shopping and the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole effect, where you may not only find the book you were searching for, but many more you suddenly need besides. The main downfall here is the inability to physically view these and ascertain whether or not they have a place in your collection. One of the problems with collecting horse books is that apart from there being so many of them, there are also so many of the same subject (e.g. the care of the horse). These need careful evaluation to determine whether or not they repeat the same information or if they bring more to the stable; it is a case of separating the wheat from the chaff (if you’ll pardon the puns). If I bought every horse book that I saw, apart from soon running out of money and space to store them, a lot of my collection would be redundant. It is my intent to have a well-rounded horse book collection (from The Complete Book of the Appaloosa to The Working Saddler’s Handbook), but I am also in the habit of seeking out as many titles on specific subjects as I can (e.g. the life and works of 18th Century horse artist George Stubbs), providing they are not too repetitive. To this end, I try to apply the following criteria when looking at books: that it sparks great interest and creates longing due to its beauty and/or subject matter, or has some other point of significance that sets it apart. If still I hesitate for some reason, I ask myself, ‘Will I regret not buying this?’ If the answer is yes, then sooner or later it will be mine.
Let me expand on the above paragraph, where I mentioned the possible pitfalls of buying online, and my criteria. I grew up watching taped recordings of a brilliant television series called The Horse in Sport. Each segment related to a specific equestrian sport, i.e. dressage, polo, harness racing etc. I spent so many hours watching these videos over and over, that they are imbedded in my mind. Imagine my enormous surprise when I discovered there was a companion book to the series! Mind. Blown. I rarely impulse buy, but after hurriedly searching for the best price, I clicked ‘buy’ and waited excitedly for it to arrive. When it did, I was impressed with the physicality of the book; attractive cover, much heavier than expected, excellent condition with very minor wear to the dust jacket. But when I eagerly opened it, I did not see everything I thought I would see. The images of the television series bear little resemblance to the images in the book. There are 78 pages dedicated to flat racing and steeplechasing (not my favourite sports) yet only 40 pages covering the military and Olympic disciplines of dressage and eventing. The bold font is a trifle irritating to the eye. I was slightly underwhelmed. Would I have bought the book had I been able to view it first? I thought about this as I looked at the book again, this time more carefully, and started to understand it on its own merit. This is a true companion book – it expands on its subject matter, bringing depth of detail and providing far more information than a movie or television series can hope to achieve in a few hours. That is the beauty of books, and this one has earned its place in my collection.
There are also the books that you love immediately. I had been searching for an affordable copy of Ann Hyland’s The Horse in the Middle Ages for some time, feeling under pressure as this title is becoming harder to find, when I came across it online from an Australian bookseller. I noticed the online store had a multi-buy discount, so naturally I searched their database for more horse books. Now, I have a want list of over 250 horse books and searching for all of them is time consuming, so I tend to search for whatever subject I am more focussed on at the time. At the moment it is horse history and horse artists, so after finding the aforementioned book, I typed in Stubbs…nothing. Munnings…nothing. Expecting to find nothing again, but on the basis of ‘you never know’, I typed in Lionel Edwards…and got a return! The result was Sketches in Stable and Kennel. After doing what research I could on the book, it was added to the cart. When I finally had it in my hands, I was so struck by the beauty of both the book and the subject matter that I had to forcibly stop myself from devouring it all at once, as I meant to put it away for Christmas!
I ultimately want to do my best to select the finest of the books that interest me. It is also especially important to me to preserve the history of the horse in reality, literature and art, and what better way to do that than to curate a glorious time capsule that can be opened at any time, continuously updated and refined, and equally provides physical comfort and intellectual inspiration. That is the purpose of my book collection for me.
N.B. I have tried to curate a good cross section to show the depth and breadth of my horse book collection. In particular regards to my horse fiction, whilst I do of course have such classics as Black Beauty and The Black Stallion, I also have many other novels that deserve recognition and preservation.
Buckley, Di. Great Thoroughbred Studs of Australia. CL Creations Pty Ltd, Lane Cove NSW, 2008. Hardcover large landscape 4to (33 x 35.5cm). Pp. , 203, . Dark green cloth boards with white lettering, photographic dust jacket, black background with white text. Dust jacket folded edges lengthwise. Very good condition, mild scuffing to dust jacket, minor bumping to corners of book and dust jacket and ends of spine, spine faded. Privately distributed with 500 copies made available for retail sale (unverified – source forum.thoroughbredvillage.com.au). A bold coffee table book featuring some of Australia’s most famous Thoroughbred studs, providing a glance into the industry’s (and country’s) heritage. Of personal appeal, a statue of my own horse’s grandsire (Danehill) is pictured on the front cover.
Bundesministerium fur Land- und Forstwirtschaft (ed.). The Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Bundesministerium fur Land- und Forstwirtschaft, Vienna, 1970. Fourth edition. Paperback landscape 8vo (16.5 x 24cm). Pp. 81, . Illustrated front cover, black text, plain white back cover. Fair condition, edges chipped and scuffed, two small tears upper front cover, front cover and corners of pages beginning to curl, spine starting to detach from pages but still holding, front cover partially faded, insect spotting on back cover. Penned inscription ffep. Colour and black and white illustrations and photographs interspersed with text. A promotional booklet, printed in English. No discernible author, appears to be edited by the publishing company. A small but detailed history of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Has a penned inscription to the first owner of the book, from Hubert Eichinger, past Chief Rider of the school. Many beautiful historical illustrations, including depictions of Pluvinel, de la Gueriniere, and Cavendish, some of the great names of classical dressage. I paid the grand total of $1 for this at a car boot sale.
Carver, Sonora. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. (1961). Martino Publishing, Connecticut, 2009. Paperback 8vo (23 x 15.5cm). Pp. 208, . Photographic front cover, brown background, black and white text. Contains some black and white photographs. Good condition, corners lightly worn, slight creasing to front cover. Extraordinary autobiographical account, as told to Elizabeth Land, of a horse-diving circus rider in the Roaring 20s. Even more incredible is that Carver continued to dive after she became blind in 1931. I came to this story via the movie, Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken, not realising it was based on a true story. Years after watching the movie I discovered this book and had to have it. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder to how amazingly brave and willing horses can be.
Dossenbach, Monique and Hans D. The Noble Horse. (1983). David Bateman Ltd, Buderim, Qld., 1985. Hardcover large 4to (34 x 25.5cm). Pp. 448. Dark green cloth boards with silver lettering, dark green cloth board slip case with photographic front cover, dark green background back cover with white text. Incorporates some transparent pages and fold outs. Book good condition, some staining to bottom corners, previous owner’s name penned ffep, some scuffing to edges, spine bumped and scuffed either end. Slip case solid and stable, moderately scuffed and scratched. One of the most complete horse books I’ve come across – there are even a couple of pages of equestrian-themed postage stamps! It is also an impressive tome in the flesh. It had been on my radar for a long time, and was a chance find at a charity book fair. I was most surprised to note that this edition was published in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast.
Edwards, Lionel. Sketches in Stable and Kennel. (1933). Nattali & Maurice Ltd., London, September 1944. Illustrated by the author. Fourth printing. Hardcover 4to (28.5 x 23cm). Pp. 59. 12 colour plates, 39 pencil sketches, with text. Tan cloth boards with black lettering, illustrated dust jacket, black text on cream background. Price clipped. Bookseller’s label front pastedown (Swains 119-123 Pitt St Sydney). Book good condition, corners slightly bumped, mild foxing ffep and rfep; dust jacket heavily chipped and torn, encased in plastic jacket. Lionel Edwards was an acclaimed illustrator and author of many English country life books. This is a charmingly illustrated observation of daily life revolving around horses and hunting. I’m very taken with this book and will definitely be hunting down more from this author/artist. Curious to note that the page numbers are close to the spine, rather than on the centre or outer edge of the page.
Ferguson, Victoria. The Practical Horse Herbal: Natural Therapies for Your Horse. Carlton Books Ltd, London, 2000. Illustrated by Beth Greedy, Pauline McCarthy and Holley Ryan. Paperback 8vo (24 x 17.5cm). Pp. , 188, . 12 colour illustrations, 102 small drawings. Includes bibliography and useful contacts. Good condition, corners bent, edges of pages slightly marked/rubbed. Ex-library with associated labels. A holistic horse health book from this Australian herbalist and rider, offering many useful insights into horse husbandry, not just alternative therapies.
Hasluck, Paul N. Saddlery and Harness-Making. (1904). J. A. Allen & Co. Ltd., London, 1962. Hardcover 16mo (17.5 x 10cm). Pp. , 160, , 155. 296 diagrams. Brown cloth boards with gold lettering. Dust jacket orange faded to yellow on spine and front, yellow and black text on white background. Good condition, spine ends bumped, dust jacket faded front and spine, mildly chipped and scuffed along edges. Originally published as two volumes by Cassell and Company, Limited. A splendidly detailed manual on the art of making saddlery and harness by hand, of much value as a historical record and from a personally practical standpoint as I embark on learning this craft. It leads the rest of the saddlery books in my collection.
Hayes, Captain M. Horace. Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners. (1968). Stanley Paul & Co. Ltd, an imprint of the Hutchinson Publishing Group, London, 1981. Sixteenth edition. Paperback 8vo (23 x 14.5cm). Pp. , 655, . 108 illustrations. Orange illustrated cover with black text. Bookseller’s stamp ffep ‘Jack Greathead, Horseman’s Bookshop, 296 Buckland Road, Wavell Heights, QLD., 4012, Phone (07) 266 3082.’ Fair condition, edges scuffed, spine creased, surface tear front cover approx. 1”, pages tanned and foxed. First published 1877, this most handy book has been reprinted many times and revised at least twice that I know of. Regarding the bookseller’s stamp, it is of interest to me that you see more second hand horse books stamped from the Horseman’s Bookshop at Albion, rather than with the bookseller’s name and at Wavell Heights. I believe this may have been due to the relocation of the bookseller due to his illness (unconfirmed).
Hyland, Ann. The Warhorse 1250-1600. Sutton Publishing Limited, Gloucestershire, 1998. Hardcover 8vo, (25 x 18cm). Pp. , 250. Typeset in 11/12pt Ehrhardt. Black cloth boards with gold lettering, dust jacket illustrated front and back, black background with red text. Glossary of terms and bibliography. Mostly text with some illustrations and photographs. Very good condition, corners bumped, some scuffing to dust jacket, very small tear upper back corner. The development of the warhorse to the height of its use. Ann Hyland is an equestrian and a historian, and has written numerous books on the history of the horse. My collection also includes The Horse in the Middle Ages, and I intend to acquire more of the author’s other titles. This particular book contains some artwork by important 15th-16th Century equine artists such as da Vinci, Durer and Pisanello.
Klimke, Reiner. Ahlerich: The Making of a Dressage World Champion. (1984). Merehurst Press, London, 1987. Edited by Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel. Hardcover 8vo (24 x 16.5cm). Pp. 157. Dark blue cloth boards, gold lettering. Photographic dust jacket, blue background with white text. Text interspersed with colour and black and white photographs, and diagrams. Good condition, rubbing to edges of jacket, small tear corner of jacket, mild water damage to some pages, mild foxing, spine slightly faded. Ex-library with associated labels. One of the best biographical accounts I’ve read, chronicling the rise of (also) one of the best partnerships the horse world will ever see. Quite remarkable for a full-time lawyer to become a multi-gold medal winner with multiple horses, Ahlerich being the most famous.
Roberts, Tom. Horse Control and the Bit. (1971). T.A. & P.R. Roberts, Richmond, South Australia, 1977. Fourth edition. Hardcover 8vo (23.5 x 16cm). Pp. , 129, . Green cloth boards with gold lettering. No dust jacket, covered in plastic. Text accompanied by black and white photographs and diagrams. Title from original dust jacket has been cut out and affixed to front cover. Fair to good condition, pages lightly tanned and foxed, previous owner’s name and date penned on ffep, price sticker ffep, very slight rubbing to spine ends, some highlighting throughout. The first of four books in the Horse Control series, an excellent, sympathetic yet no-nonsense horse and rider training series and an important Australian horse publication. I have all four in my collection, purchased as a set for the princely sum of $8.
Savoie, Jane. It’s Not Just About the Ribbons. Trafalgar Square Publishing, Vermont, 2003. Illustrated by Beth Preston. Hardcover 8vo (22.5 x 19cm). Pp. , 230. 75 illustrations. Blue cloth boards, gold lettering. Dust jacket photographic front cover, illustrated back cover, red and white background, black, red and white text. Typeface: Weidemann, Rotis Sans Serif, Rotis Sans (sic). Includes bibliography. Text interspersed with drawings and colour and black and white photographs. Very good condition, corners mildly bumped, jacket edges slightly scuffed. A follow-up to Savoie’s first book, That Winning Feeling! (A New Approach to Riding Using Psychocybernetics) – also in my collection – this is regarding training the mind to be positive and succeed, and applying that thinking to riding. There are plenty of books on riding and horse training, but too few about rider psychology. Both of these books are highly useful tools.
Slavin, Michael. Showjumping Legends Ireland 1868-1998. Wolfhound Press, Dublin, 1998. Hardcover 8vo (26 x 22cm). Pp. 167, . Dark green cloths boards with gold lettering, photographic dust jacket, green, red, blue, and black text on white background. Text interspersed with colour and black and white photographs, some artwork and line drawings. Contains a bibliography and glossary. Good condition, corners and spine ends bumped, dust jacket minor chipping and rubbing, some fading to spine. An unusually specific book of its subject matter, it is an excellent record of the history of the sport. Noteworthy are the inclusion of programme covers and advertisements from the late 1800s.
Smith, Patricia (ed.). The Arabian Horse in Australia: From foundation stock to present day breeding. The Arabian Horse Society of Australia, Limited, Croydon, New South Wales, 1980. Hardcover 8vo (29 x 22cm). Pp. 223, . Yellow cloth boards, photographic dust jacket yellow background with brown text. Good condition, mild foxing to top edge of pages, ends of spine moderately rubbed, dust jacket covered in adhesive plastic, penned inscription to previous owner and bookplate ffep. This is the first of seven volumes to date of The Arabian Horse in Australia (with Vol. IV onwards including New Zealand). As mentioned in my essay, I was given Vol. III when I was very young, and I have been obsessed with collecting as many as I could. Over the years I have spent a lot of time and money sourcing each book, mostly having success on eBay. There was a large gap of time after gathering Vols. I-IV, when out of the blue I happened upon Vols. V and VI listed together online a couple of years ago. I then contacted the Arabian Horse Society of Australia to find out if there were any more issued since, and was able to acquire Vol. VII (regrettably it has laminated boards, whereas the others all have cloth boards with dust jackets). This set is one of the most valued in my collection.
Smith, Peter C. The Design & Construction of Stables & Ancillary Buildings. (1967). J. A. Allen & Co Ltd, London, 1975. Illustrated by the author. Hardcover 8vo (26 x 18cm). Pp. , 98, . 32 diagrams, 1 halftone photograph. Black cloth boards with gold lettering, illustrated dust jacket white background with red and black text. Fair condition, corners mildly bumped, pages foxed and tanned, dust jacket scuffed, lightly chipped with small tear and rubbing to upper spine, mark from price sticker on front, original J. A. Allen price sticker front flap. At the time of printing, this was the only book available on this subject; half a century on, there are still only a handful of books dedicated to stable design. The author was an architect and horseman and each complements the other in this book. As an aside, the back cover advertises two books that I also have in my collection (Saddlery by Elwyn Hartley Edwards, and Saddlery and Harness-Making by Paul N. Hasluck), also published by J. A. Allen & Co Ltd. This publishing house began in 1926 and produced countless equestrian books. It is now an imprint of The Crowood Press.
Stubbs, George. The Anatomy of the Horse. (1938). Bracken Books, London, 1990. Illustrated by the author. Hardcover 4to (34 x 24cm). Pp. , 34, , 47, . 36 illustrations. Maroon cloth boards with gold lettering, illustrated front and back cover dust jacket, maroon with white text. Fair condition, edges of boards chipped and bumped, edges of dust jacket chipped and creased, small tear back cover, mild foxing ffep and rfep. Originally the work of 1776, a very technical portrayal of horse anatomy, but still fascinating from a historical and artistic point of view. There appears to be two sections, although they are not noted as such, hence the separated page numbers. The illustrated pages are unnumbered. I was pleased to note ‘authoritative opinions’ of two of my favourite 20th Century horse artists (Lionel Edwards and A.J. Munnings) in the introductory pages. I pounced on this copy when I came across it at a charity book fair, adding it to my three other Stubbs books.
Vavra, Robert. All Those Girls in Love With Horses. William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1981. First edition. Hardcover 4to (28.5 x 25cm). Pp. 240. Blue cloth boards with gold lettering, photographic dust jacket with pink and black text. Very good condition, minor rubbing to dust jacket, two small tears near spine. Text with many colour photographs. Just one of the Vavra books in my collection, with still more to collect. I first discovered him when I was quite young, his book The Unicorn of Mount Kilimanjaro was in a bookstore I would frequent with my mother. Every time we went there, she had to drag me away from this book. One day it wasn’t there and I was so sad – until it turned up that Christmas! I have been gradually adding Vavra books to my collection ever since. Vavra is primarily a horse photographer, but he is also a writer and he has created this most unusual book. It features 11 equestriennes from around the world (from a cutting horse champion in Canada to an equine behaviourist in France), telling their horse-love stories, accompanied by superb photographs.
Walrond, Sallie and Grimshaw, Anne. Trot On, Sixty Years of Horses. Kenilworth Press Ltd, Buckingham, 2004. Hardcover 8vo (25.5 x 20cm). Pp. 327, . Black cloth boards with gold lettering, photographic dust jacket, black background with white and yellow text. Signed by both authors, hand numbered 266 of 1000 copies. Text interspersed with many black and white and colour photographs. Very good condition, corners very slightly bumped, minor chips and one small tear to dust jacket. Sallie Walrond is a well-regarded British horse rider and driver, and author of numerous horse books. This is an engaging account of her life with horses, with the added bonus of having much appeal on the shelf.
Williams, Dorian. Great Riding Schools of the World. George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Limited, London, 1975. Hardcover 8vo (29 x 22.5cm). Pp. 320. Cream boards with brown lettering and illustration, photographic dust jacket with black text. Text with 175 black and white photographs, 32 colour pages. Good condition, corners bumped, dust jacket mildly rubbed along edges, some wear to inside front cover at spine but intact, spine faded. This second hand copy came with a pamphlet promoting a visit from the Spanish Riding School of Vienna to Wembley Stadium, London in October 1977, commentated by Dorian Williams. Unique book showcasing the biggest riding schools of the time, from the famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna and Cadre Noir in Saumur, to the lesser-known Burevestnik in Moscow and Centro Ippico di Castellazzo in Milan.
Williamson, Charles O. Breaking and Training the Stock Horse. (1950). The Caxton Printers Ltd., Idaho, 1976. Illustrated by Carl Hoobing and Sherman Hayes. Hardcover 8vo (26 x 18cm). Pp. , 125, . 51 illustrations. Beige cloth boards, brown lettering and illustrations, no dust jacket. Fair condition, corners bumped, cover rubbed and moderately stained, ffep and rfep heavily foxed, edges of pages tanned. A very good, practical and sensible horse training book, for any horse and horseman (not just the cowboy on the range).
Barrett, Helen. The Gold Through the Haze. D’Artagnan Publishing, Beaumont, S.A., 1986. Includes poem ‘The Silent Ponies’ by author, first published by EDUCATION magazine, NSW, 1978. Paperback 8vo (21.5 x 14cm). Pp. , 254 + 4 pages publisher’s advertisements. Set in 10/11 Century Old Style by Caxtons Pty. Ltd, Adelaide. Photographic front cover with title and author text in gold, white with gold and black text back cover, gold spine with white text, ‘champion’ ribbon detail (red, white, blue stripe) across front and back cover. Good condition, mild bumping to corners, mildly foxed and tanned, spine lightly creased, some separation of glue binding but all pages intact, spine ends lightly rubbed. An evocative and motivating tale of an Adelaide girl beating the odds to become an Olympic dressage rider whilst somehow developing a world famous haute couture label. Barrett was an equestrian journalist who also wrote under the name of Elizabeth Whitbread. I have another written by Barrett as well as one by Whitbread. Her books are among my most prized possessions, and easily in my top favourite books. They are now quite hard to find.
Cannan, Joanna. A Pony for Jean. (1936). Hot Key Books, London, 2014. Illustrated by Anne Bullen. Hardcover 8vo (21 x 13.5cm). Pp. , 154. 37 original illustrations. Typeset in 12.5pt Caslon by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk, Stirlingshire. Illustrated front and back covers and spine, yellow background with blue text. New condition. A lovely vintage children’s novel republished for the current generation. This was a most surprising find in a pop-up bookstore. Joanna Cannan, a wonderful author in her own right, also has the great distinction of being the mother of the famous Pullein-Thompson sisters Josephine, Diana and Christine, who could be regarded as the Bronte sisters of the pony book world. This book contains a lovely dedication from mother to daughters and it is a valuable addition to the dozen plus Pullein-Thompson titles on my shelves. My collection also holds a couple of other books illustrated by Anne Bullen, a prolific pony novel artist.
Cato, Heather. Dark Horses. Scholastic New Zealand Limited, Auckland, 1997. Paperback 8vo (22 x 14cm). Pp. 319. Typeset in 11/15pt Baskerville. Illustrated front and back covers and spine, black and white text. Fair to good condition, pages moderately tanned and foxed, corners bumped, some rubbing to edges of cover. New Zealand isn’t typically known for producing pony novels, this is one of the handful that I know of. I first came across it in my high school’s library; years later I tracked down my own copy. A book for teens, contains lots of horses and dark secrets and growing up themes.
Ferguson, Ruby. Jill’s Gymkhana. (1949). Knight Books for Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, London, 1983. Illustrated by Bonar Dunlop. Paperback 16mo (18 x 11cm). Pp. 159 + 1 page publisher’s advertisements. 14 illustrations (from 1968 edition). Photographic front cover, orange background with cream text. Fair to good condition, mild rubbing and creasing to front and back covers, pages moderately tanned, small ink stain on bottom edge, spine faded. The first of nine books in the Jill series, chronicling the titular character’s quest for a pony of her own and her subsequent adventures. Wonderful portrayal of the era, particularly the language. My collection contains the complete set in this edition. I was introduced to this series by a friend when we were in our younger teens, and started with an omnibus of books one and two, then added books three and four, all different editions, before finally finding the complete set that I have now. Interesting note: Bonar Dunlop was a New Zealander more commonly known for sculpture.
Mitchell, Elyne. The Silver Brumby. (1958). Lions, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, 1994. Illustrated by Ralph Thompson. Paperback 16mo (18 x 11cm). Pp. 156, , + 2 pages publisher’s advertisements. 24 original illustrations, glossary of terms. Photographic front cover with title in silver, white background with black text back cover and spine. Fair to good condition, mild creasing front and back covers, tanned and foxed page edges, penned inscription inside front cover. The first of six books telling the story of Thowra the Silver Brumby and his family. My collection houses books #1-5 in the Lions edition, as well as two other brumby stories by the same author, also in the Lions edition. I asked for the first three books for Christmas in 1995, and have been gradually sourcing the remainder.
Savitt, Sam. Vicki and the Black Horse. Scholastic Book Services, New York, 1964. Illustrated by the author. Paperback 8vo (19.5 x 13.5cm). Pp. , 140. 23 original illustrations. Illustrated front and back covers, red title and publisher’s name, other text black. Fair condition, rubbed edges, small tears bottom spine but pages still intact, heavily tanned. A lovely novel depicting American life in the 1960s, following Vicki and her love of Pat, her father’s black Thoroughbred. Interesting to compare the American horse terms with British and Australian. Sam Savitt is perhaps better known as a horse artist (he was even the official artist of the United States Equestrian Team) although he did write numerous horse books (fiction and non-fiction). I also own one other pony novel that he illustrated, written by another author.
Sheldon, Ann. Linda Craig: The Palomino Mystery. (1962). Fontana Paperbacks for Armada, London, 1982. Illustrated by St Ward. Paperback 16mo (18.5 x 11.5cm). Pp. , 187, +5 pages publisher’s advertising. Seven illustrations. Glossary of terms. Illustrated front and back cover, yellow background, red and black text. Bookseller’s stamp ffep (Marriotts 232 Kingston Rd. Slacks Creek PH. ?08 5048). Fair condition, pages tanned, spine creased, front and back cover minimal creasing, some separation of glue binding but pages still intact except for ffep (approx. 1.5” loose at bottom), scuffed edges, small tear bottom spine. Good old-fashioned western mystery series. This is book #1 of 11 in the series, of which I also have #2-5, and #9, and hope to complete the set one day. Rather nice illustrations although the storylines are often laughable. Fun escapism!
Whitbread, Elizabeth. A Good Year for Riding. D’Artagnan Publishing, Burnside S.A., 1982. Paperback 8vo (21.5 x 14cm). Pp. , 167, . Photographic front cover; white background with black text back cover and spine. Good condition, mild rubbing to edges and corners, small tear to bottom end spine, pages clean and tight. The first of the Georgie Pony Club series, portraying South Australian horse- and country life in the 1960s. Increasingly difficult to find, but still the easiest to come across in the set. Whitbread wrote two more in this series, with plans for another two before her untimely death.
Joubin, Arnault. La Selle Hermes. Editions du Collectionneur, Paris, 1993.
Non-fiction. The Hermes Saddle. Many people would be familiar with the French design house Hermes, but may not know its origins lie in the making of harness and saddlery. This is a sumptuous, luscious coffee table book filled with historical photographs and illustrations. French text. According to my research, there were originally 500 copies bound in Hermes saddle leather, followed by 3500 copies with a dust jacket. Some copies may be found with a loose English text insert and/or bookmark. The leather edition is my Holy Grail as it fulfils so many passions (horses, history, saddlery, and leather), but far beyond my means, therefore the regular (still pricey) hardcover edition is more likely to one day grace my collection.
Van der Horst, Koert. Great Books on Horsemanship Bibliotheca Hippologica Johan Dejager. Brill | Hes & De Graaf, Netherlands, 2014.
Non-fiction. Publisher’s note (from brill.com): This lavishly illustrated encyclopedic reference work brings together and organizes virtually all the great works on horses published in the first two and a half centuries following the invention of printing. It covers over 350 rare books, acquired by the Belgian collector Johan Dejager, ranging from the late fifteenth to the early nineteenth century. A particular emphasis is placed on horsemanship, riding masters, veterinary science, and the cavalry. Biographical accounts of the 175 authors behind the books are included, as well as bibliographical descriptions of the original items. The book also offers a number of insightful essays. Thus, this unique volume invites readers to travel through the assorted historical documents as they collectively shed light onto the unparalleled importance, value, and beauty of the horse. What book collector wouldn’t want a 5kg tome containing such a feast for the eyes, mind and soul? This calls to me on so many levels, and if I can’t view Dejager’s collection in person (unlikely) then this is the next best thing.
Whitbread, Elizabeth. A Good Christmas for Riding. D’Artagnan Publishing, South Australia, 1985.
Fiction. The second story in the Georgie Pony Club series. I was fortunate enough to read a friend’s copy years ago and have been searching fruitlessly for my own copy ever since. Apart from being written in highly evocative and enjoyable prose, this series is also an important snapshot of Australian horse- and country life in the 1960s. It can now be considered a ‘unicorn’, along with the third book, A Good Horse for Riding, and To Jump a Log, written by the same author under her real name, Helen Barrett (Elizabeth Whitbread being her nom de plume). I do not give up hope that one day I will find them.
This has been typed in 12pt Cambria, an elegant transitional font developed in 2004 by Jelle Bosma.
N.B. Style inconsistencies have been intentional in an effort to keep printed information preserved.