Ponies, ponies, ponies


This section gathers together authors who were best known for writing books that weren’t pony books. In particular, it’s for those authors who wrote series (often very long series) which included the odd horsy title. So far, the majority of authors I have are American, but if anyone can think of any I’ve missed, please let me know. It’s amazing how horses do crop up here and there: the Bobbsey Twins managed to take time off from collecting all that maple syrup and the Secret Seven from detecting to visit, if even only temporarily, the kingdom of the horse.

It is noticeable that many of these American series were written by several different authors, and that some were created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. It’s difficult to avoid supposing that horses were included in these series because horses sold.

This section is organised in alphabetical order by author. Some of the authors already have their own pages on the site: if they do, I’ve provided links.

Acknowledgements: thank you to Susan Bourgeau for doing much of the legwork on this section, and to Denise, Dawn, Hannah and Barb for providing pictures. I’m very grateful.

Authors included

Andy Adams - Biff Brewster

The American Biff Brewster series of boys’ adventures of derring do was written by several different authors under the name Andy Adams. Three of the known authors were Edward Pastore, Walter Gibson and Peter Harkins, this last being the author of the one horse title, Mystery of the Arabian Stallion, number 12 in the series. The Biff Brewster series of 13 books was published by Grosset & Dunlap, and came out at the rate of 3 a year from 1960-1965.

Further reading and sources

The Biff Brewster series

Reviews of some books in the series

Betsy Allen - Connie Blair

The Connie Blair series, about a young American woman working in the advertising agency Reid and Renshaw, totalled 12 books. Betsy Allen was a pseudonym used by Betty Cavanna, who under that name wrote several horse books, so including a book with a horsy connection must have seemed a logical, and probably easy, step. The series’ heroine, Connie started her career as a model, graduated to a secretary, and thence to a solver of mysteries.

Further reading and sources

Betty Cavanna

The Connie Blair series

More on the Connie Blair series

Enid Blyton - The Secret Seven, The Famous Five and Malory Towers

Enid Blyton was a phenomenal writer: phenomenal in the sheer number of books she produced (around 800) and phenomenal in the hold she had over children’s reading habits. Born in East Dulwich, she trained as a teacher and taught for a number of years, whilst producing children’s poetry and several educational works. With the publication of The Secret Island in 1938, her writing career was well and truly launched. Although in no sense a pony book writer, some of her plots did involve horses. Blyton’s daughter, Imogen, had a pony, and Blyton and her first husband once lived in a place with a classic horse connection: Old Thatch, a sixteenth-century cottage in Buckinghamshire was once an inn, where the highwayman Dick Turpin was supposed to have stabled Black Bess.

Further reading and sources

The number of Enid Blyton sites is legion.


The Enid Blyton Society

Heather’s Blyton Pages

The Secret Seven

The Secret Seven was a fifteen strong series about a group of children who solve crimes. Animals were something of a recurring theme in the books, with the additional Secret Seven member, the spaniel Scamper being a constant part, and animals cropping up elsewhere in the plots. Secret Seven member Peter lives on a farm, which has horses.

The Famous Five

The Famous Five series covered 21 books, as well as annuals and other spin offs. Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog solved mysteries far and wide as they spent their holidays firmly away from any adult supervision.

Malory Towers

Enid Blyton wrote two school series: neither was by any means as horsy as Mary Gervaise’s The Grange, but there was one particularly horsy girl: Bill, obsessed with her horse, Thunder. The series was illustrated by a famous equine illustrator, Stanley Lloyd.

Franklin W. Dixon - The Hardy Boys

The American Hardy Boys series is one of those that crossed the pond and, judging by the amount which still turn up secondhand, was epically popular here too. A creation of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, its heroes, Joe and Frank Hardy are amateur detectives with an uncanny ability to solve mysteries the police can’t. The series started in 1927, and was an immediate success, lasting for 58 titles, many of which are still in print now. It was written by several different authors, including Leslie McFarlane, but the one horsy title, The Sign of the Crooked Arrow, was the creation of Andrew E Svenson.

Further reading and sources

Leslie McFarlane

Andrew E Svenson

The Hardy Boys series

The Sign of the Crooked Arrow

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1949, 206 pp.

Harold Hill & Son, London, 1951

Collins, London, hb

Armada, London, pb, 1990

Rarity: it’s not going to be hard to find a copy.

The Hardy boys have a cousin who lives on a Mexico ranch, and who asks them to help him. Although they have a
current investigation going on into jewellery store holdups, they go off to Mexico, and discover that Arrow cigarettes
can knock people out.

Alice B Emerson - Ruth Fielding

The Ruth Fielding series numbered 30 books by the time it ended: it followed Ruth, a feisty girl, from her childhood, through college to marriage. Ruth is an orphan, sent to live with her Uncle Jabez and Aunt Alvirah. Jabez is something of a cold fish, but Alivirah loves Ruth. Ruth is determined virtually from the off to make herself independent from her uncle, and this she eventually manages, through what was then the last word in modernity, writing a scenario for a film. The series was written by three different authors; W Bert Foster writing the first 19, which includes the one horse title, Ruth Fielding &The Silver Ranch.

Further reading and sources

The Ruth Fielding series

Ruth Fielding at Silver Ranch, or Schoolgirls Among the Cowboys

Cupples & Leon Company, 1913, 204 pp.

Rarity: despite its age, it’s surprisingly easy to find

Ruth and her friends Helen and Jennie travel to Arizona, where a new film, for which Ruth is to write the scenario,
 is to be shot at a mining camp. An accident causes the train the girls are travelling on to separate, and their
part of the train arrives after that in which the evil Edie Turner is travelling. She is obviously determined to reach
the mine before the girls, but why?

Eileen Hill - Robin Kane

Eileen Hill was a pseudonym used by Nicolete Meredith Stack (who wrote some of the Trixie Belden series). The Robin Kane series numbered six books, so was a positive baby by comparison with some of the series featured in this section. In it, Robin is challenged to solve various mysteries. The first and fifth books in the series, The Mystery of the Blue Pelican and Mystery in the Clouds, are those with some horse content.

Further reading and sources

Some information on the author

Laura Lee Hope - Bobbsey Twins

Oh, the Bobbsey Twins. To one growing up in 1960s Britain, the American novel was something strange and exotic. Our local library, a fine example of 16th century architecture by Thomas Tresham, had some books amongst the ranks of traditional literature which promised a whole new world: amid the complete series of Dr Dolittle and Swallows and Amazons was a whole series of the Bobbsey Twins novels, and I worked my way through them. The thing that made most impression on me was maple syrup: an unobtainable luxury in our area then. I was consumed with curiosity about this ambrosial delicacy which exercised the Bobbseys: so much so that I entirely missed the fact there was some horse content in the series.

The Bobbsey Twins was yet another Stratemeyer production, written by a team of authors. The Bobbseys were actually two sets of twins: Flossie and Freddie, and Bert and Nan. There was far more general horse content in the early editions of the stories: the first Bobbsey story,  Merry Days Indoors and Out, appeared in 1904, when the main method of transport for the middle class was the horse and buggy. The series was much revised over the decades, and so the general horse content was edited out as the car came to prominence. There is, however, at least one story which does use horses directly in the plot.

Further reading and sources

Wikipedia on the Bobbsey Twins

More information on the series as a whole

Some of the Bobbsey Twins books are available on Project Gutenberg

The Bobbsey Twins on the Pony Trail

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1944

Rarity: very easy to find

Bert and Nan have riding lessons from gypsies, so that they can go with their father on a business trip into the
Rocky Mountains. There Nan hopes to learn the mountain gypsies’ secret.

Carolyn Keene - Nancy Drew

The Nancy Drew series is another Stratemeyer creation, written by a team of authors. One of them, Mildred Wirt Benson, said: “ It was a day's work. I did it just like I did my newspaper work,” but there was rather more to Nancy than just a workaday character churned out to meet a publisher’s deadline. The girl detective became immensely popular, and the series (although much revised over the years) is still in print today. Benson said: “I think Nancy was the character the girls were waiting for..... Most of [the fans] identified with her. In my fan mail that I receive, they say that they were inspired to go do things for themselves, to go build themselves careers. I think it was an incentive to go out into the world and to become someone as a woman, you know.”

Further reading and sources

Rehak, Melanie: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her.

A Nancy Drew website

An interview with Mildred Wirt Benson, one of the original writers of the series

The Nancy Drew series

The Ringmaster’s Secret

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1953, 214 pp.

Reprinted many times. Now available as an e-book.

Rarity: very easy to find

Nancy Drew joins the circus to investigate a mystery surrounding an orphan girl
and a gold charm bracelet.

The Riding Club Crime

Aladdin Paperbacks, New York, 2003, pb, 151 pp.

Rarity: very easy to find

Elsa, a friend of Nancy and George's is a councellor at the Green Spring Pony Club's summer camp. If the club
wins the regional pony club rally, they will go to a national competition. However, Nancy’s horse is hurt, and it
becomes clear it was sabotage. Who is trying to hurt the campers and the camp, and why?

The Incidental Pony Book

Mystery of the Arabian Stallion

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1964, 176 pp

Bancroft Library, London, 1964, pb, 188 pp

Rarity: not the easiest of books to find.

Biff has a new friend: Ahmed. Together they investigate the disappearance of a golden stallion, Suji.The two suspect that the horse’s disappearance might have something to do with the problems their fathers are investigating in the oilfield nearby.

The Secret of Black Cat Gulch

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1948, 206 pp

Tempo, paperback, 1965

Rarity: findable, though pricing varies.

Connie has been sent down to Mexico to help with research for a textile campaign. She makes friends with an archaeologist called Jeff, who is on the track of a mysterious man with a limp and a missing finger, who may just have the answer to finding an historical treasure. Connie helps Jeff, and also finds that someone is trying to keep them from exploring a nearby mine.

The Secret Seven

Brockhampton Press, Leicester, 1949, illus George Brook. 96 pp

Reprinted many times

Rarity: first editions with dustjackets will be expensive: paperbacks are very easy to find indeed.

A comprehensive history of the title


The Secret Seven help find a missing racehorse.

The Secret Seven Mystery

Brockhampton Press, Leicester, 1957, illus Burgess Sharrock. 120 pp

Reprinted many times

Rarity: first editions with dustjackets are reasonably priced: paperbacks are very easy to find indeed.

A comprehensive history of the title

The Seven hunt for a missing girl who has run away from home. They find out that she likes horses, so spend some time at the local stables gathering information.

Fun for the Secret Seven

Brockhampton Press, Leicester, 1963, illus Burgess Sharrock. 120 pp

Reprinted many times

Rarity: first editions with dustjackets are reasonably priced: paperbacks are very easy to find indeed.

A comprehensive history of the title

The Secret Seven are told about a suffering horse, Brownie. His owner, Farmer Dinneford, has injured him by making him pull an overloaded cart, but refuses to pay the vet’s bills, and insists the horse has to be put down. The Secret Seven decide to raise the money to keep the horse and pay for his vet’s bills.

Five Go to Mystery Moor

Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1954, illus Eileen Soper, 183 pp

Reprinted many times

Rarity:  first editions are findable; paperbacks are very easy to find indeed.

A comprehensive history of the title

Anne and George are staying at a riding school where Anne is learning to ride.  Dick and Julian join them. A gipsy boy brings a lame horse into the stables for treatment, and the Five soon discover there is a mystery involving the gipsy camp.

Third Year at Malory Towers

Methuen & Co, London, 1948, illus Stanley Lloyd, 159 pp.

Reprinted many times

 acks are very easy to find indeed.

One of the mistresses, Miss Peters, clashes with Bill, and as a punishment, informs her Thunder must be sent home.  Most of the action though is concerned with girls who think rather too much of themselves:  new girl  Zerelda and her acting ambitions, and Mavis the singer.

The Mystery of the Blue Pelican

Whitman Publishing Company, Oregon, 1966, illus Sylvia Haggander

Rarity: very easy to find

Robin and some of her friends are appearing as extras in a film, The Changeling, which stars a famous teen actress, Moira Rafferty. The horse Nugget is supposed to appear in the film, but he is stolen. Robin follows the trail, which leads to a castle rustler. Mr Hunter is so delighted when Robin manages to recover the horse that he gives him to her as a reward.

Mystery in the Clouds

Whitman Publishing Company, Oregon, 1971, illus Sylvia Haggander

Rarity: very easy to find

Robin Kane rides her palomino, Nugget, in the Pasadena Rose Bowl Parade.

The Secret at Shadow Ranch

Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1931, 203 pp

Reprinted, with an introduction by Mildred Wirt Benson, Applewood, 1994, 203 pp

Rarity: easy to find as a reprint

The Secret of Shadow Ranch

Grosset & Dunlap, 1965, 175 pp.

Note: this, the third edition, has a title change from "of" to "at" and is a completely different book.

Nancy sees a ghostly horse galloping among the trees.

Eileen Meyler

Doris Schroeder/Barlow Meyers

Eunice Young Smith

Alan Stone

Sheila Stuart

Jerry West

Mildred A Wirt

Lee Wyndham

Andy Adams

Betsy Allen

Enid Blyton

Franklin W Dixon

Alice B Emerson

Eileen Hill

Laura Lee Hope

Carolyn Keene

C S Lewis

C S Lewis - Narnia

The antithesis of many of the series on this page, C S Lewis wrote out of personal conviction. An academic, who taught at Oxford for 30 years, and who became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge, his Narnia series has not been out of print since it was written. It consists of seven books, in which children from the normal everyday world stumble into the parallel world of Narnia, where they play a major part in what happens there. It is a magical series, as often criticised as praised for its Christian allegory. The series can be read perfectly easily without any idea of that Aslan represented Jesus: when I first found the series in our local library, I was utterly enchanted, and completely thrilled to find there were six other books in the series to read. What the series “meant” mattered to me not one jot at the time: I simply loved it. I entered its world and was happy there. My favourite in the series is The Dawn Treader, but the talking horses in The Horse and His Boy do, I must admit, still have a special magic for me. Shasta, the beaten son of a fisherman, meets the runaway Tarkan girl Aravis, and he and the talking horses Bree and Hwin go on a perilous journey to Narnia.

Further reading and sources

Into the Wardrobe - the C S Lewis website

Planet Narnia

The C S Lewis Institute

Wikipedia on C S Lewis


Eileen Meyler - The Elwood Family

British author Eileen Meyler wrote a series of seven books about the Elwood family, of which Adventure on Ponies is one. None of the other books, as far as I know, have very much pony content: Johnnie and Prue and their adventures are at the heart of the series.

Doris Schroeder/Barlow Meyers - Annette

The Annette series of five books used Annette Funicello’s name and likeness, and were based on the Disney films using her. The six book series, in which Annette solves mysteries had 5 books written by Doris Schroeder, and one by Barlow Meyers (6 books, girl solves mysteries): Mystery at Medicine Wheel by Barlow Meyers; Mystery at Moonstone Bay by Doris Schroeder. Gertrude Barlow Meyers wrote a few horse books, and she contributed one of the horse-orientated titles to the Annette series: Mystery at the Medicine Wheel. Doris Schroeder was a prolific screenwriter. As well as the Annette series, she wrote titles for the Patty Duke series.

Further reading and sources

Barlow Meyers

A review of the series

Doris Schroeder on wikipedia

Annette: Mystery at the Medicine Wheel

Whitman Publishing, Wisconsin, 1964, illus Robert L. Jenney & Maxine McCaffrey. 212 pp.

Rarity - easy to find


Part of the Annette series. Annette is on her way to her visit her Aunt and Uncle at the Circle Y Ranch via bus.

It doesn’t go to plan, as she and John Running, with whom she’s travelling, are involved in a kidnapping.


Adventure on Ponies

The Epworth Press, London, 1959, illus Ruth Scales,

reprinted Epworth Press, London (Koala Books), 1959, pb, 135pp.

Rarity: easy to find


Johnnie and Prue are off to Corfe to their holiday cottage, but they have to take Amanda

Davenant with them, and this doesn’t go down at all well with Johnnie. Then Amanda turns

out to be frightened of the pony they keep at Corfe, Tom Tit, and Johnnie is thoughtless

and rude. Then Tom Tit goes missing...

The Horse and His Boy

Geoffrey Bles, London, 1954

Puffin, pb, 1965, and many times since. 188 pp.

Early reprints have Pauline Baynes covers - later reprints vary

Rarity: very good first editions with dustjackets are stratospherically expensive; reprints are very easy to find.

Shasta is the son of a brutal fisherman, who runs away when he overhears his father planning to sell him. He steals the nobleman’s horse, only to find he is a talking horse of Narnia, called Bree. Bree persuades Shasta that they should go to Narnia. On the way, they meet Aravis, anxious not to be married against her will. With her talking horse, Hwin, the four go on their perilous way to Narnia.

Annette and the Mystery at Moonstone Bay

Whitman Publishing, Wisconsin, 1962, illus Adam Szwejkowski. 210 pp.

Rarity - easy to find




Eunice Young Smith - the Jennifer series

Eunice Young Smith lived in Indiana, and was a full time writer. She wrote a six book series about Jennifer, whose parents moved from the city to an American Mid West Farm. The books are set during the early part of the 20th century, and were translated into many languages. Just the last is a horse book, in which Jennifer helps her friend Camilla to train her filly, High Heels.

Further reading and sources

Eunice Young Smith

High Heels for Jennifer

Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, 1964, illus the author

Edmund Ward (Publishers) Ltd, London, 1966, illus the author (right)

Rarity: can be difficult to find


Jennifer is 13, and the despair of her mother. Jennifer is not interested in learning to be a lady: she would rather ride and draw the ponies, until she finds herself day-dreaming about a friend of her brother. Jennifer helps to train her friend Camilla’s filly, High Heels, for the county horse show.




Alan Stone - The Tollivers

Alan Stone was another synonym used by Andrew ESvenson. He was a contributor to other series in this section: as Jerry West he wrote the Happy Hollisters series, and he also wrote titles for the Hardy Boys series. The Tollivers series was a relatively short one of three books, in which a family solve mysteries.

Further reading and sources

Andrew Esvenson

The Tollivers and the Mystery of the Lost Pony

World Publishing Company, Cleveland, 1967, illus Mel Bolden

Rarity: reasonably priced, but not as many of them about as you’d think.




Alison’s Pony Adventure

Blackie, London, 1953, illus Gilbert Dunlop. 256 pp.

Reprinted Blackie, 1965, cover Harry Green. 256 pp.

Rarity: the original hardbacks can be tricky to track down, but the orange reprints are usually easy to find.




Alison’s Riding Adventure

Blackie, London, 1958, illus Gilbert Dunlop, 238 pp.

Reprinted Blackie, 1966, cover Harry Green, 238 pp.

Rarity:  the original hardbacks can be tricky to track down, but the orange reprints are usually easy to find.




Jerry West - The Happy Hollisters

The Happy Hollisters series by Jerry West involves another mystery solving family. 33 books long, the series included a couple of titles with horse content. The five strong family lived with their father, who owned a general store called The Trading Post, and their mother, who was an ever present help in solving the mysteries the family found to solve. The Happy Hollisters was another Stratemeyer Syndicate creation, and one of their most successful. The author, Andrew E Svenson, became a partner in the syndicate.

Further reading and sources

A fansite on the Happy Hollisters

Andrew E Svenson

The Happy Hollisters at Pony Hill Farm

Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1956, 184 pp.

Rarity: easy to find


The Hollisters buy an antique hobby horse at an auction. This plunges them into a mystery involving the Stone treasure and a stolen Appaloosa horse.



The Happy Hollisters and the Ghost Horse Mystery

Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1965, illus Helen S Hamilton, 180 pp.

Rarity: easy to find


The Hollister family are returning from New Mexico to the airport, and stop off to buy cowboy suits. There they meet two children, Helen and Jack Moore. They are holidaying nearby at a dude ranch, and have a map which shows the location of the cave of the ancient doll makers.


Mildred A Wirt - Penny Parker

Mildred A Wirt wrote the early Nancy Drew series for Stratemeyer, and also wrote the 17 book strong Penny Parker series. Its impulsive heroine, Penny, is an investigative reporter who seems perennially short of money.

Further reading and sources

The Penny Parker series

An interview with Mildred Wirt Benson

Mildred A Wirt Benson’s books

Hoofbeats on the Turnpike

Cupples & Leon, New York, 1944, 211 pp.

Rarity: good copies can be expensive


A man shows Penny a clipping offering a reward for any information which leads to the capture of a Headless Horseman. Penny and her friend Louise go off to search, but after a dam breaks, they find themselves trapped by the resulting flood.


Lee Wyndham - Susie

Lee Wyndham wrote a five book series about a ballet student, Susie. Susie and the Ballet Horse

Susie and the Ballet Horse

Dodd, Mead, New York, 1961, illus Jean Macdonald Porter, 126 pp.

Rarity: hard to find, and generally expensive.


Ballet student Susie wins a scholarship to a summer dance camp, but she becomes homesick. What helps is her friendship with Ballerina the Lipizzaner, and her owner.


Sheila Stuart - Alison

Sheila Stuart worked as a VAD during the First World War, but most of her career was spent writing. She worked as a journalist, and wrote short stories and serials for periodicals such as Scottish Field and The People’s Friend. The Alison series, about Alison and her brother Niall, is set in Sutherland in the Highlands of Scotland, an area Sheila Stuart knew well. Out of the fifteen titles in the Alison series, two of them involve ponies; the other books mention them occasionally, but the books are more concerned with defeating members of “The Gang” and fishing.

Further reading and sources

Sheila Stuart

Fidra Books on Sheila Stuart

Evelyn Smith

Evelyn Smith (1885-1928 )was a fine writer of school stories.  She was educated at Leamington High School, which was was probably the model for the schools which featured in her stories. She went on to gain a scholarship for three years at Royal Holloway College, and after graduating with a first in English, taught.  Her school stories are excellent and fine reads in their own right.  One, Terry’s Best Term, does feature a horse.

Further reading and sources

Hilary Clare on Evelyn Smith, Folly Magazine

Terry’s Best Term

Blackie & Son Ltd, London, 1926, frontis Francis E Hiley, 208 pp.

Republished by Blackie several times

Rarity - later reprints are reasonably easy to find