The Early Years

The Observer's Book of Horses and Ponies

Observer's Book of Horses and Ponies The Observer's Book of Horses and Ponies

This is my second blog reflecting back at where my equine journey began and the seeds that were planted in the early years that would eventually grow into The Horse Riding Tourist and the planned series of books beginning with: The Horse Riding Tourist - Near and Far*.




I was 11-years-old in the summer of 1983. To mark the end of our primary school years, me and my fellow classmates were individually taken to a local bookstore by our parents to select a book to be presented at our final assembly by the local Member of Parliament. I don’t recall the day when my parents took me to the bookstore and had it been any other book that I chose, I probably would have parted with it long ago and would not be able to recall the title either. Yet, the book I had chosen is still with me and looking back on some of the things I have done and the path I am currently on, this book now faded and discoloured clearly represented my destiny.


The Observer’s Book of Horses and Ponies


My little book is The Observer’s Book of Horses and Ponies by R. S. Summerhays (New edition published in 1978). It is a compact reference book featuring over 120 horse and pony breeds from around the world. Most of the breeds listed are accompanied by a black and white photograph. All have a brief history of the breed’s heritage, information on where they reside in the world, markings and confirmation, characteristics and use: work, sport, leisure, etc.


Since 1983, my copy of The Observer’s Book of Horses and Ponies has survived umpteen moves and frequent clear outs. It was forgotten about and left to gather dust on various bookshelves before being rediscovered whilst I studied at the Berkshire College of Agriculture (1994-1996) where it was needed to assist me with assignments. Then abandoned again on more bookshelves.


The Horse Riding Tourist


In more recent years, my little book of horses and ponies has been used more frequently than the 27-year period of ownership that preceded. This is because, on a cold and dark December day back in 2011, I took my first steps into the world of equestrian travel. Now, The Observer’s Book of Horses and Ponies frequently sits on my desk at home and is often picked up and thumbed through to provide me with a snippet of information on a horse or pony breed that I have either just encountered on a trek or one I’m soon to meet.


Who knew that my destiny of equestrian travel and books had been sat on my bookshelf all along. The idea of The Horse Riding Tourist book series may have laid dormant for nearly three decades but now it has been discovered it is a wonderful place to read about and experience. All good things come to those who wait.


Your Destiny


Perhaps you have a book that has been with you since childhood, even one that you may no longer own, yet you have never forgotten. Has your childhood book influenced your career or hobby path? If you’re still looking for your life course, maybe it is time to recall your favourite childhood read to inspire your vision.


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The Horse Riding Tourist by Rachel Lofthouse Near and Far

Further Information


*The Horse Riding Tourist - Near and Far is a non-fiction travel book that describes the magical horse-riding tours, I experienced in Iceland, Egypt, Great Britain, and Mallorca. For more information click here.

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