Horse fiction is a writing genre that emphasizes stories about horses and their owners. Some famous books include Black Beauty, The Horse Whisperer, and King of the Wind. These narratives are mostly regarded as children’s fiction, although there are adult books in this category as well. Authors interested in writing horse fiction need to make sure they do their research, as readers of the genre may know more about the animals than they do.
Typical elements of children’s horse fiction include the horse as one of the main characters, and a viewpoint may come from the animal itself. The narrative is usually plot-driven, with an adventure such as a race or a mystery. Adult stories like The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, about a cowboy who heals both a traumatized animal and its family, have more serious themes and tend to revolve around human characters. Westerns and fantasy novels may incorporate horses as part of the setting rather than as protagonists themselves.
One of the most famous examples of horse fiction is Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. The book is written in first person from the point of view of the horse, and tells of his early life on the farm and through a succession of owners, some of them cruel. Beauty’s tale has been used as an object lesson for children in the humane treatment of horses. Depictions of the London horse-drawn taxicabs and an abusive bearing rein used at the time sparked the abolishment of unfair licensing fees and the rein as well.
Marguerite Henry wrote 59 books about horses, including Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind, a 1949 winner of the Newbery Award for excellence in children’s literature. King of the Wind is a fictionalized account of the Godolphin Arabian, the ancestor of modern thoroughbred horses. The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley, starting with the original book in 1941, has been wildly popular for many years. It is the story of a boy who tames a wild stallion and rides him to victory in a match race, and has enchanted countless readers and inspired at least three films.
Writers interested in producing horse fiction should know something about the animals. Since most readers of the genre are quite interested in horses, they may be more familiar with tack and behavior than the average person, and will not hesitate to point out mistakes. Good research can help get the details right when putting horses in Westerns, fantasy, and contemporary novels. Horses have a long history of both usefulness and companionship, and are rich sources of fictional sentimentality.