For the most part, my nine-month-old would still rather eat his books than read his books, but that doesn’t stop us from practicing relaxing with a good book in hand. To my infinite pleasure, my amazing (and non-horsey) sister-in-law found this gem and gave it to Isaac for Christmas:
If there is one children’s book you need on your baby’s shelves – horse related or otherwise – it’s Horses Trotting! Prancing! Racing! by lifelong horsewoman Patricia Hubbell. This may technically be a children’s horse book – but I really think it’s written and illustrated for the horse-loving mom or dad. This book is a lovely introduction for baby into the world of horses – from basic care to the various disciplines and ways we use horses, to their personalities. It’s a lovely look at some of things we love most about horses. And my favorite part is in the incredible attention to detail and accuracy. It’s obvious this kid’s book is done by horse people for horse people.
“Big horses. Small horses. Stamping-in-the-stall horses. Whinny! Snort! Nicker! Neigh! Time for breakfast – grain and hay.” I challenge you to come up with a better representation of walking into a horse barn first thing in the morning. Also, that’s the exact feed cart I used for years at the stable where I grew up riding, working, and teaching. And this is exactly what our stalls looked like too – down to the barred windows and hardware.
Also, I exercise a firm belief that all children’s books should have a good cadence and rhyming structure, as they are so much better for reading (over and over and over) that way.
Horses aren’t all riding fun and gymkhana games, they’re a lot of work too. The very second page of this book introduces children to mucking stalls and regular grooming.
The watercolor and pencil illustrations throughout the book are all sweet, but I particularly love the bucking, rolling, snoozing ponies on this page. Also, I love that “some of them wear iron shoes” – in a size 2 apparently!
The book has a whole section on the different “jobs” that horses do – including pulling plows (I grew up in amish country, so this isn’t obsolete!), playing polo, carrying policemen on their beats, herding cows, and jumping walls (I always tell Isaac that’s the mommy and Ace horse). I love the detail in the illustrations – every buckle is in the exact right place, every horse is wearing the appropriate tack (bit type included!) for it’s job, and the rider’s equitation isn’t all that shabby.
I say this horse book is a must-have for every child’s bookshelf (and this was a Christmas gift, so nobody is paying us to say this!). It’s a perfect gift for the horse loving parent – or from the horse loving parent – because aren’t we trying to convince all kids that horses are wonderful?
What are your favorite horse-centric children’s books?