There are many books about dog breeds and even cat breeds, but books that discuss horse breeds are more difficult to find. Harness Horses, Bucking Broncos and Pit Ponies: A History of Horse Breeds is a great guide to many horse breeds, including the American Miniature Horse and the Clydesdale.
Fauquier County and the entirety of Virginia has a long and proud history of horse culture; one of the enduring classics of horse literature, (and 1948 Newbery Honor recipient) Misty of Chincoteague, brought national attention to the Chincoteague Pony Swim & auction held on the last Wednesday in July. If you visit Chincoteague Island, you can visit (and stay in) Miss Molly's Inn, where Marguerite Henry wrote Misty of Chincoteague. Wild Horse Scientists, part of the magnificent Scientists in the Field series, focuses on the veterinarians who study and care for the horses on Assateague Island.
Throughout the history of racing, two names spark instant recognition even among those who don't follow the sport: Secretariat and Seabiscuit. Secretariat, the first Triple Crown winner, was trained in Caroline County; young readers should definitely read The Big Red Horse: The Story of Secretariat and the Loyal Groom Who Loved Him. Seabiscuit was an unlikely champion that uplifted the nation during the dark days of the Depression: A Horse Named Seabiscuit and Who Was Seabiscuit? are great reads for young equine enthusiasts. (We also have the Oscar nominated Seabiscuit, rated PG-13, and Disney film Secretariat.)
Cowboy culture has long been a fascination for many people, but some may not be aware that Mexican ranch hands were vitally important in teaching inexperienced cowboys in the American West how to effectively round up cattle; the American cowboys even copied their distinctive dress and lingo. In the Days of the Vaqueros: America's First True Cowboys is an eye-opening look at the settlement of the American West.
Everyone knows that dogs are often used to guide people who are blind or assist those in wheelchairs, but a guide horse is still quite uncommon! Panda: A Guide Horse For Ann introduces readers to Panda, a miniature horse that guides Ann safely through busy streets and into trains.
That Book Woman and Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky feature bookmobiles that ran on horse power during the 1930s; That Book Woman (a picture book) features a librarian and her pack horse visiting an Appalachian family during the Depression; Down Cut Shin Creek is an unforgettable look at the women who brought books and other informational literature to rural families living in Kentucky during the Depression.
American history would definitely be different without horses; these books celebrate these magnificent creatures' contributions to our country. Happy Day of the Horse, everyone!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library