My Favorite Horses By Victoria Bylin

Last time I visited P&P, I blogged about my favorite cowboys. You can’t have a cowboy without a horse, so that got me thinking . . . In all the books I’ve read, the movies and TV shows I’ve seen, and the real life horses that have crossed my path, which are my favorites?




No. 1 — The Black Stallion 

My dad took my brother and me to visit Nana every Sunday morning. We’d stop for donuts–chocolate ones with sprinkles–then we’d go to her house in North Hollywood. Without fail, she’d have one of Walter Farley’s books waiting for me.  I read The Black Stallion at least a dozen times.  Remember the shipwreck? The big race at the end? Fictional or not, the Black was a magnificent animal.


Number Four in the series was The Island Stallion.  I look at that name now and smile. When I’m naming characters (horses count!), I grab something out of the air. I can just see Walter Farley sitting at an old typewriter and thinking, “The horse is red.  I know . . . I’ll name him Flame.”


No. 2 — Seabiscuit 

My infatuation started with a children’s chapter book, but even more personal was a story from my other grandmother. Apparently she and my grandfather weren’t always the mild mannered grandparents I knew.  During the Depression, they placed a few bets at Hollywood Park.  They were also Seabiscuit fans. They never won big at the races, but this spirited horse gave them a reason to cheer in hard times.



No. 3 — Man O’War. 

Who doesn’t love Big Red?  He was a champion through and through.


No. 4 — Little Joe’s Pinto 

Okay, I admit it.  I had a crush on Little Joe.  He had the coolest horse, at least that’s what I thought on those Sunday nights I stayed up for Bonanza.


No. 5 — Jake 

Jake wasn’t famous or fast.  He didn’t have the fancy markings of a tri-color paint or the style of a black Arabian.  He was an ordinary trail horse, a member of the summer rental string when we lived in Pine Mountain, California.  Jake is special because my oldest son, Joe, learned to ride on him. Joe took first place in that season’s competition. He was a good rider, but the ribbon really belonged to Jake. That old horse was rock solid, but he had enough spirit to give a ten-year-old boy a thrill.


So that’s my list.  Anyone else?  Which horses, real or fictional, are your favorites? Which ones captured your imagination?

Get your name in the drawing by leaving a comment: Vicki is giving away an autographed copy of THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS!  


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71 thoughts on “My Favorite Horses By Victoria Bylin”

  1. My husband and I will go to the race track occasionally just like your grandparents and I always enjoy watching a horse that looks like it had no chance run like it’s a champion.

  2. The horse my grandfather had, who I named Midnight Lady. I rode her a lot when I was in my teens and I miss her dearly.

    Dreamer and Flicka- which are two of my daughter’s favorites from the movies- she’s 5 years old but she swears she’s going to grow up to run a horse farm. ;o) I cry off and on through Flicka because the horse in it reminds me of Midnight Lady.

    And of course, being from Kentucky- I watch the Derby and cheer like crazy for my favorite pick- the ones I pick generally never win, but it’s a sentimental thing for me that I’ve been watching since I was a child.

    Though not a horse, I read The Red Pony a few times in my youth- though heartbreaking as it is, it’s still one of my favorite reads.

  3. I never had a horse but l love reading about them. l an very much enjoying silhouette special edition, throughbred legacy, which is based on horses.

  4. Good morning! I just poured coffee and am glad to be here!

    Minna–I haven’t heard of the Lucky Luke comics, but I love the name “Jolly Jumper.” The name fits our new puppy. He’s a Jack Russell/Beagle mix and he JUMPS all the time. He’s also very jolly 🙂

    Hi Maureen–I’ve been to the races just once, but it was blast! We didn’t win big, but I loved the excitement.

    I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s horse stories!

  5. Taryn, Your daughter and I have something in common. I wanted to own a horse farm, too. My grandmother, bless her heart, always believed I would. Instead I’m writing about cowboys, no doubt a direct result of her encouraging me to read all those Black Stallion books.

    My husband and I take turns picking movies to see. When “Flicka” cameout, he picked it! I thought that was sweet. I love that movie. Wasn’t Tim McGraw amazing? Waving at Charlene here : )

  6. Avi J–Black Beauty is a classic. I discovered it later in my reading life, after the Black Stallion books. Definitely a keeper!

    LJ–I’m going to have hunt up those SSEs. I’m sure I’d enjoy the setting. Thoroughbreds are so amazing!

  7. Hey, Vicki! Thank you for coming back to Wildflower Junction. Yeehaw!

    One of those before-I-die wishes I’ve always had is learning to ride a horse. How exhilarating it would be to gallop across a field at full speed!

    Love your pub photo–so pretty!

  8. Hi Lizzy! Bonanza was always a favorite. So was High Chapparal. I liked Lancer, too. I’ve been hooked on westerns since forever : )

    Hi Pam! My personal riding experience amounts to a couple of trail rides, including one where the horse unexpectedly jumped a stream. I remember a friend yelling, “Hang on! He’s going to jump!” It was more of a hop, but what a thrill!

    Thank you for the kind words about the photo. Right now I feel like an imposter! No make-up, old jeans, red fleece shirt. And my hair? It needs cutting and soon!

  9. l took care of some at a time after school, stallions mostly and l found that they are so smart. They always picked up on my moods.

  10. Favorite horses… the ponies of Chincoteague (or however you spell the Island) 😛 I also enjoyed Black Beauty, though it made me cry. Eh, so what else is new…

    My dad was a race fan so we always went to watch the horses. I loved the grays–though they seldom came in higher than fourth. I still always cheer for the gray racers.

    There’s a small herd of horses I see most every week on my way to critique. A couple of blacks, each with a single huge white splotch on their sides. Would they be considered pintos?

    I do love miniature horses–and huge draft horses. A wonderful combination. For pure looking at..Andalusians.

    Most of all, my childhood friend Cyclops.

  11. Hi Vicki,
    Great to see you here at Petticoats and Pistols! I love horses. I’ve always wished to own one, but that didn’t happen. But I do ride rarely and it’s always fun and hard on my backside!

    My favorite horse growing up was Trigger from Roy Rogers’ show. I thought it was the most beautiful horse ever. And growing up watching Fury, the black stallion was my second favorite. 🙂

    Great having you blog here with us today! Gonna buy your book and read it before Christmas!!

  12. Hi Vicki! It’s great to see you here!
    Your cover is gorgeous. Wow, you really are a horse lover. I’m a little afraid of them. One tried to throw me off when I was a kid. I got right back on, like they say to, and finished the ride, but have been scared ever since! Good luck on your Christmas antho, and your branching out into LIH! 🙂

  13. Good morning. My favorite horses were my best friend’s grandpa’s big ole workhorses. He farmed with horses yet when we we in elementary school. They were huge!! We rode them bareback and and our legs stuck straight out because of their size, Sandy was much braver with them than I was and would stand up on them and race arround the yard!

    Little Joe was MR. Dreamy and I longed for a horse just like his.

    Buttermilk and Trigger were also favorites!

    Loved the blog and will be looking forward to the book!

  14. My neighbour had a bay, l loved that horse. My dog use to sneek over the fence to play with him, it was so cute seeing that

  15. Hi Mau, Arabians are beautiful . . . I remember my first trail ride. I was eleven years old and full of notions of the Black Stallion. That old trail horse wasn’t exactly spirited, but I was still thrilled.

    Mia, That’s interesting about stallions picking up on your moods. I did some research on mustangs and wild horses for a proposal and was fascinated by how the herd works together, with the stallion taking leadership. There’s definitely a keen intelligence there.

  16. Hi Lizzie! I liked the Misty books, too. I now live within driving distance of Chincoteague, Virginia but haven’t made the trip. Traffic! Crossing the Bay Bridge is a challenge. One of these days, though, I’ll talk my husband into it.

    I like draft horses, too. Huge, strong and steady! My favorite Super Bowl commercial was the one with the Clydesdale horse : )

  17. Victoria,

    You sound like a kindred spirit. I read every horse book I could find when I was young. I read all of the Walter Farley books, Misty of Chincoteaque, Black Beauty. I loved horses so much that I talked my very citified parents into buying me one. 🙂 We lived right on the city line, so I boarded my horse just two blocks from home. I think those days of riding and caring for my horse has helped me in my writing.

  18. Waving at Charlene and Kate! Thank you for stopping by and for the well wishes on the anthology.

    It was a total thrill to be with Cheryl and Carolyn Davidson. To add to the pleasure, the novella I did (“The Christmas Dove”) turned out to be one of my favorite pieces of writing. I loved those bad boy heroes : )

  19. Hi Connie! I can see it . . . kids on horseback with their legs sticking out because they’re so short : ) Sounds like a good time at your grandpa’s farm. I’d be worried about Sandy, though! Standing up? Yikes! That takes courage.

  20. Hi Dina, I grew up in suburbia, but there was a small farm nearby. I used to walk to the library and come back by the horses. I can just see your dog playing with his “neighbor” 🙂

    Hi Vickie! I’m jealous! Your *own* horse . . . how cool is that? That’s the best kind of research for a western writer. Don’t you love it when our childhood experiences dovetail with our adult callings? It’s awesome!

  21. Hey, Vicki! Hope you sell a million books today — heh heh – no, really.

    I love to watch horses in the movies, especially movies like Lonesome Dove and Broken Trail. They are so beautiful and graceful.

    I am not old enough to have seen these, but (my mother told me that) on the old Mickey Mouse club, there was a series called Spin and Marty where the boys worked on a ranch. Can you imagine b&w TV? Me neither.

    I loved Bonanza and Fury and The Lone Ranger. Did you know Johnny Depp will be playing Tonto in a Disney movie of The Lone Ranger? and FYI to Karen, I learned Johnny is part Cherokee.

  22. Okay, I’m in the right place, now. Sheesh! Too many Vickis for me, I guess. So, about the horses. I had mentioned Norwegian Fjord horses when I replied to the wrong Vicki so I’ll repeat myself here. Yes, I tend to be a bit scatter-brained. I blame part of that tendency on being blonde, although my roots are darker!

    Anyway, some years ago I was introduced to Norwegian Fjord horses and fell in love with them. They look a lot like a primitive horse, with a heavy body, but are not very tall. And their personalities are dog-like, not scary like some horses can be. Last night, my husband was surfing the net and discovered that those very horses are being sold. Now I have to decide if I want to start a retirement home for aging horses. Decisions, decisions, decisions. I keep telling myself I could call it research but that’s probably a real stretch. Oh, well.

    Anyway, Vicki B, sorry I got mixed up. Then again, as you get to know me, you’ll find that’s usually my normal state of mind.


  23. Hi Vicki!

    I’m a little slow today in extending a warm welcome again to P&P. But, shoot, you’ve been here before!

    Great subject. I think the horse that captured my heart was Barbaro. He put up such a gallant effort to survive his injury but in the end it took him. Barbaro had strength and a lot of courage. I also like Seabiscuit. That made a great movie. It brought tears to my eyes that one single animal was able to lift people of the Depression from the depths of despair and give them something to cheer for.

    I think Clydesdale horses are beautiful animals and they make some of the best commercials I’ve seen. Love the one with the dalmatian and the Clydesdale that got passed over when it came time to choose the horses for the Budweiser wagon. The Rocky music was great for the scenes where the dalmatian got his friend in shape. lol Doesn’t take much to entertain me!

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Join us next week for our big birthday bash here at P&P.

  24. Hello Nathalie! I haven’t been around many horses, but I’m always struck by their strength. Talk about muscle! You’re right, they’re gorgeous!

    Hi Val, I get mixed up all the time…no worries! I’m all for starting that retirement home for horses. Definitely research! Can I visit?

  25. Linda, Barbaro was a champion right up to the end. So sad . . . I love writing romance, but not all stories have happy endings. I like to think Barbaro is galloping happily through eternity 🙂

    Ditto to praises for the Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdale and the dalmation. I walk every day with my dog. He’s not exactly a coach, but he keeps me moving.

  26. Vicki,

    Is The Magic of Christmas already in the bookstores? I’m going to be sure and snag me a copy. I’m looking forward to reading yours, Cheryl’s and Carolyn’s stories. You’re all very talented writers. Great looking cover too. Covers sure help me decide whether to buy a book or not. I love this one! They look like a family.

  27. I have distant relatives that raise Percheron’s – I only got to visit once but they have this male called King Kong – they are huge but yet so gentle. Quite impressive.

  28. I love horses!!! I collect statues, calendars, etc., all because I met a horse named Jackpot at the age of 9. He was beautiful and such a cutie. I learned to ride on him at summer camp for two summers. The third year the camp cancelled riding and I was devastated. I never saw him again, but he will continue in my memories forever!

  29. Real: Barbaro. I prayed for him every day and sobbed when he died.

    Fiction: Black Beauty.

    Oh, and I love the Budweiser Clydesdales, too. They come to our county fair most years. And their Christmas commercials rock.

    Thanks for a great post, Victoria. You can write about cowboys and horses here anytime! I can’t wait for your Christmas story.

  30. I fell in love with Arabian horses after reading a book in the fifth grade about them. I don’t remeber the name of the story book, but it was kind of like black beauty but in a different country.

  31. From Valerie Hanson:

    I met my first Norwegian Fjord horse about 20 years ago, in CA, and have thought of getting one ever since then. They have an amazing personality, more like a faithful dog than a horse. And I just learned that the horses I saw are available. Do I want to start a retirement home for aged horses? I’m not sure. But the idea is tempting. And, I can always call it research for one of my books! Well, maybe….

  32. Victoria, I was a HUGE Walter Farley fan as a child. I read and re-read all his books. I think Farley was the first author I read that I’d look at the way he wrote and admire his gift. It appealed to me in a way that I think helped give me a desire to be a writer.

    I read everything, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, books, books, books. And I loved them all, but somehow, with Farley, especially the horse race scenes, I just knew that was a true gift, the way he’d suck me in. A horse race that should have lasted…what? Two minutes? Five minutes?
    He’d write for pages and pages but it was so fast, so intense, I could hear the hooves thundering, feel the jockeys’ fighting with their mounts and the other jockeys.
    Not until I read Mary Higgins Clark for the firs time as an adult did I find a writer who could so completely suck me into fast paced action like Farley.
    I’ve always tried to write like that and I’ve learned just how much work it is to be that immediate and intense in action scenes.

    As for horses, how about Silver from the Lone Ranger? And Scout, Tonto’s horse was a great one, too.
    Let’s see if this works.

  33. AND, I found this news item quote:

    Mr. Depp has signed up for a big screen adaptation of The Lone Ranger that will be produced by Pirates producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

    Alas, Johnny won’t be rocking a white cowboy hat, he’s set for the role of trusty sidekick Tonto. Depp’s grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee and Johnny’s embraced his native American roots before in his self-directed movie The Brave.

    Question is, if Depp is the Lone Ranger’s wingman, then who the @$!# is going to play the lead?

  34. Hi Vickie! Oh–a fav subject of mine! Horses! My favorite story (s) were Misty of Chincoteaque, and Little Black, A Pony. I collected the Breyer “action figures” while other girls were collecting dolls and made stories to go with the horses. Can’t wait to read your Christmas anthology–the cover is lovely!

  35. Hi Victoria,I love Horses an any books about them,My Friend Flicka was my fave,but I love Christmas books more!I read them all year long,keeps my spirit going even when its blazing outside,thanks

  36. Linda asked if THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS is in the stores. It should be . . . I haven’t seen it yet, but HHs come out the last week of the month prior to month on the cover. It’s an October release, so that would be this week : ) I like the cover, too!

    Jeanne, King Kong is a great name for a horse!

    Hi Colleen, Jackpot’s another nifty name. I collected horses statues way-back-when. I bet I’m not the only one who had a shelves covered with them : )

  37. Hi Gina, I missed out on “My Little Pony.” With two sons, it was always cars or monsters or action heroes. One of them needs to get married so I can have a granddaughter who’s into “My Little Pony,” but not too soon!

    Beth & Tanya & Aviella & Rebekah E, Yep. I love all those horses, too. No wonder we all read westerns.

    Genny, I missed out on Zoro. If he had a black horse, I’d have loved it.

  38. Hi Kathryn! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Ditto to collecting horses instead of dolls. I had a bunch of them. They got passed along over the years, but I wish I’d saved a few of them.

    Estella & Crystal, Yes to all on your lists. Dreamer’s one of my favorite movies. Hmmmm, maybe we should watch it tonight instead of the news!

    Vickie C, Merry Christmas a tad bit early! I wrote the “Christmas Dove” in late spring / early summer and played Christmas music the whole time. It was pure pleasure : )

  39. Hi, Vicki! I don’t remember loving horses so much growing up (I only remember Silver, the Lone Ranger’s horse), and now don’t know too many famous horses either, but having recently rewatched Toy Story 2 with the kids, I have to nominate Bullseye, Woody’s horse 🙂 Congratulations on The Magic of Christmas–I do love Christmas anthologies!

  40. Hi Fedora, I didn’t see Toy Story II, but I saw Toy Story I with my youngest son when he was still young : ) It’s a delightful movie. Also, I hope you enjoy the Christmas anthology! It’s definitely full of Christmas cheer.

    Minna, I’ll have to check out Lucky Luke. Thanks for answering back!

  41. And what comes to real horses, my favorites are the Finnish horses. It’s a workhorse, both during the peaceful times and wartime.

  42. I have a question, who didn’t have a crush on Little Joe, I no I did. His horse was awesome. I loved that show and still watch the reruns.

  43. Clydesdale horses are my favoirte. I’m sure everyone loved silver. Don’t really have a favorite but horses are wonderful beautiful animals.

    I had a pony when I was little – he was small and red in color, yeh you guessed it his name was “Little Red” (lol)

  44. my one brother owned the book Black Beauty and who didn’t wish that they could have a horse such as Black Beauty.

    Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger was also a fav on the TV show. He was smart, friendly and could ride like the wind.

  45. Hi Vicki, interesting post! As a child, I loved Black Beauty. The real horses I admired belonged to my grandfather, a matched team named King and Queen. One winter our car got mired in the mud on his farm. When Grandpa’s tractor failed to pull it out, he walked his team down the hill. I’ll never forget the power of those horses as they lunged against the weight and got the job done.


  46. Here are some other great horses, the Brumbies (I think that’s what they called them) on The Man from Snowy River.
    The BEST beautiful running horses in all of movie-dom. Such perfect pictures and music.

    Just those running horses are worth the movie, which is also great by the way.

  47. That’s a great list Victoria. For me, it is Black Beauty from reading it when I was a child and Seabiscuit from watching the movie recently.

  48. Loved your post I always liked Little Joe’s horse too. I written a couple of times about how much my horse meant to me growing up . Not to long ago back in June I got to go to Shackleford Banks and was lucky enough to photograph the wild horses there and see them up close it was awesome!

  49. I love these comments, so I decided to move my comment on this over here:
    My favorite horse in a Western movie was “Little Blackie” in True Grit. Maddie went through this conversation with Rooster Cogburn about “one foot, buy ‘em, two white feet, try ‘em, three white feet [something here] and four white feet, pass ‘em by” but then proceeds to buy him, despite the four white feet.

    Little Blackie gives his life being run to death when Rooster tries to get Maddie to the doctor on him after being bitten by a rattlesnake, because Rooster’s horse was shot. Maddie’s dying and all the while is insisting that Rooster not run poor “Little Blackie” to death.
    Talk about horses being a character–that movie has a lot of horse characters! I do like all the horses you mentioned, too! (Gotta love Little Joe sitting on a horse.)

  50. Belle & Maude were my Dad’s workhorses when my older sister and 2 younger brothers were little.
    We also got to ride them (with our legs almost parallel) to the barn. The first pony I ever really rode was my cousins “Ribbon.”
    I never met a horse I didn’t like.

  51. My favourite horses are my own of course…however, the series started with My Friend Flicka were wonderful…Green Grass of Wyoming and Thunderhead. I still can see the cover of Thunderhead in my mind. There are so many great horse stories out there. As a child I loved Northern Dancer and jockey Sandy Hawley. Anything horsey is great.

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