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Glenn Balch

Glenn Balch (1902 - 1989) was born in Texas. His books were about ranching, horses and outdoor life, all of which he had experienced in his youth. His first ambition was to work outdoors, and he managed to find a job as a fire guard in the Forest Service, this being more secure than being a cowboy. He worked in Garden Valley, Idaho for a season, and then found work as a journalist. In the years that followed, he developed a passion for polo, but found he couldn’t edit the newspaper, work on his own writing and play polo too, so he became a freelance writer.

His first stories were published in American Boy Magazine, and formed the Hide-Rack series. It was popular, and he carried on writing. While he was taking a writing class at Columbia University, his first novel, Riders of the Rio Grande (1937), was taken up by the publisher Thomas Y Crowell. His second novel, Tiger Roan, caused some discussion at his publishers, who couldn’t decide whether to aim it at the adult or child market. Robert Crowell convinced Balch to make a few alterations to the manuscript, as he was convinced the book would appeal to boys between the ages of 12-15. Crowell was right, and so started a succession of books.

Almost all Balch’s stories involved horses, with a few about dogs. Horses, dogs and reading were part of his earliest memories. He recalled being put on the back of the sorrel mare, Nellie, which sounded like a hugely enjoyable experience, unlike the death of this first dog, Trix, which affected him profoundly. "Perhaps the most potent and absolutely shattering grief I have ever known in my whole life was when my first dog, Trix, died," he said. He preferred to write about the relationships which can develop between man and animals, and his favourite book was the first which explored this theme, Tiger Roan. He was born, he said, “with a love for horses, dogs, and the outdoors which I have never outgrown."

For those who like series, Glen Balch wrote the Ben and Dixie series, about a wild black Stallion, King, and a pair of books about the Indians Pan-Sook and Mots-Kay. His papers were donated to Boise State University by his children after his death, and include several unpublished full length manuscripts.

Finding the books: five titles were published in the UK by Hutchinson: Tiger Roan, Indian Paint, Wild Horse, Indian Saddle-up, and Wild Horse Tamer. You might have to wait a bit for them to turn up, but they are generally cheap when they do. The other titles will all have to be sourced from the US. Most are easy to find and not expensive, though very good, non library, firsts with dustjackets may well be expensive. Trickier titles include Indian Saddle-up, Keeping Horse, Winter Horse and Horse in Danger.

Links and sources

The fullest information is at the Boise University site. The University holds his papers. Theirs is this biographical sketch, as is the Glenn Balch centennial exhibit which includes photographs of the author.

More biographical information

Indian Paint - the film

Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987

Many thanks to Lisa Catz and Alison for all the photographs.

Ben and Dixie series

Wild Horse

Christmas Horse

Lost Horse

Winter Horse

The Midnight Colt

Wild Horse Tamer

Horse in Danger

Stallion’s Foe

Mots-Kay & Pan-Sook

Spotted Horse

Horse of Two Colors

Bibliography - horse books only

Tiger Roan

Crowell, New York, 1938, 236 pp, illus Lee Townsend

Hutchison, London, 1945, 200 pp.
Pocket Book Junior Edition, 1950, illus Sam Savitt (right)

Hugh Darnell finds an escaped rodeo horse who has gone to the bad. He manages to tame him,
and the horse will only let Hugh ride him. However, when Hugh is sent to prison, the rodeo owner
is determined to get the horse again.

Indian Paint, the Story of an Indian Pony

Grosset & Dunlap, 1942, 244 pp, illus Nils Hogner

Comet Books, 1949

Grosset & Dunlap, undated Famous Horses reprint

McGraw Hill, NY, 1972. Adapted for unconfident readers.

Hutchinson, London, 1944, 224 pp.

Against his father’s wishes, Little Falcon chooses as his horse a foal which
is not yet born, and then has to prove to his father that he has made the
right choice.

Christmas Horse

Scholastic Book Services, 1949, 246 pp, illus Pers Crowell

Tab Books, 1957

Scholastic Book Services, 1962, pb

Ben wants to prove to his father that King’s colts are good horses. He tries to
make a good cow horse out of his Christmas present, the colt Inky, but being
in school doesn’t help.

Wild Horse

Crowell, 1947, 338 pp, illus Pers Crowell

Hutchinson, London, 1954

Republished, and abridged as The Stallion King

Crowell, New York, 1960, 118 pp, illus Grace Paul

Apollo, 1971

Gaucho comes to the Tack Ranch to break colts, but when
Ben and Dixie tell him about King, the wild black stallion,
he decides to help them keep the horse from being caught
by the horse runner Tom Sample.


The Young Sportsman’s Guide to Western Horseback Riding, 1965

The Book of Horses, 1967

Stallion’s Foe

Crowell, 1963, illus Lee Townsend, 179 pp

Ben and Dixie can’t find King - he isn’t with his band of mares, so they set out to find him, only
to find that another stallion has challenged King for ownership of the herd and won.

The Runaways

Doubleday, New York, 1963, 192 pp

“When the young Latvian immigrant Jan unknowingly breaks the law, he runs away in fear and
joins a band of wild horses that have been harassed by a cougar.”

Keeping Horse

Crowell, New York, 1966, 150 pp, illus Joseph Cellini

“Brad’s cousin Billie is visiting the ranch for the summer and Brad is dismayed when she wants
to ride Captain Jack, a horse that even he has trouble riding.”

Horse of Two Colors

Crowell, New York, 1969, 170 pp, illus Lorence Bjorklund

Mots-Kay and Pan-sook have been slaves of the Spaniards for two years. They  manage to
escape, taking two horses with them, but neither of them can ride.

The Flaxy Mare

Crowell, New York, 1967, 142 pp, illus Lorence Bjorklund

Republished as The Wild Mare
Avon Books, New York, 2004, 153 pp.

Flaxy, a wild mare, can vaguely remember her early days, when she lived with
a man, Jim Thorne, but despite this she is still afraid of wild horse hunters.

Buck, Wild

Crowell, New York, 1976, 136 pp, illus Ruth Sanderson

Buck is a wild buckskin stallion, who faces many modern trials, including being run by wild horse
hunters in aeroplanes.

Winter Horse

Crowell, New York, 1951, 171 pp.

Ben, Dixie and Gaucho set out to try and rescue King and his herd, who are starving in the
severe winter.

Lost Horse

Crowell, New York, 1950, 246 pp, illus Pers Crowell
Grosset & Dunlap, undated Famous Horse series

Andy Blair lost a black colt 8 years ago, and it is thought that King might be that colt. Ben and Dixie
are torn between wanting King to stay wild, and having to catch him themselves to keep him safe
from Tom Sample, who is hunting him.

Indian Saddle-up

Crowell, New York, 1953, 210 pp, illus Robert Frankenberg

Hutchinson, London, 1955, 190 pp

Twisted Foot and Old Man Crazy are captured by the Utes, and hear
that their hunters have shot a mysterious animal. The animal looks like
the animals Old Man Crazy dreams about. When the two escape, they set
out to capture one of the animals.

The Midnight Colt

Crowell, New York, 1952, illus Pers Crowell

HarperCollins, 2004, 217 pp.

Ben and Dixie buy a nervy racehorse, whom they try to retrain.

Little Hawk and the Free Horses

Crowell, New York, 1957, 180 pp,  illus Ezra Jack Keats

“After his father is captured and injured by the Apaches, Comanche Little Hawk and Shy Girl
follow a band of wild horses. They are determined to capture enough horses to be able to
rescue his father.”

Horse in Danger

Crowell, New York, 1960, 181 pp, illus Lee J Ames

Two missing mares turn up in King’s herd, and he is accused of stealing them. Soon more
missing mares turn up, but Ben and Dixie suspect something is wrong when the mares do not
have their colts with them.

The Brave Riders

Crowell, New York, 1959, 191 pp, illus Ezra Jack Keats

“After his father is killed on a raid, Little Elk is hesitant about going on a long journey and horse

raid to the Great Peak, riding on an old mare with the other young men of the Pawnee tribe.”

Wild Horse Tamer

Crowell, New York, 1955, 179 pp, illus E B Quigley

Tab, 1958

Scholastic Book Services, 1964
Hutchinson, London, 1957

King doesn’t return to the ranch with the rest of the herd after the winter. Ben and Dixie are
worried when they see a black horse in a rodeo newsreel who looks like King.

Spotted Horse

Crowell, New York, 1961, 176 pp, illus Lorence Bjorklund

“Mots-Kay goes on a journey with his tribe hoping to trade goods for horses with the Shoshones,
but he and Pan-sook are captured by the Eutaws and traded to the Spaniards as slaves.