Children are fascinated with horses from the first time they see a pony cart in their hometown parade or a newborn colt frolicking in a field. And after reading treasured classics like Black Beauty and The Black Stallion or seeing Mr. Ed reruns on Nick at Night, who hasn't longed to own a horse or pony? Maybe it's because of their grandness, beauty and sheer grace that horses and ponies have topped birthday wish lists for generations. In Horses & Ponies, the first in an information-packed and fun series by the Kingfisher Riding Club, author Sandy Ransford doesn't horse around as she gets down to the basics and delves into descriptive detail about the much wished-for animal.

A brilliantly thought-out book, Horses & Ponies explains everything about our four-hoofed friends, from identifying the various breeds (Arabian, Thoroughbred, Dartmoor who knew there were so many?) to mucking out their dirtied stalls. Ransford, who has written more than 30 books on this and other subjects, proves that she knows her stuff. A horse and pony owner herself, she even shares tips on how to prepare a horse for competition, including a step-by-step guide to braiding a show-horse's mane (dampen the hair first) and hints to help young riders master the dressage test (make up rhymes to help memorize the tasks).

Specially commissioned photos by Bob Langrish, one of the world's foremost equestrian photographers, illustrate proper mounting techniques, basic riding requirements, advanced lunging positions, delightful games to play on horseback and much more. But Horses & Ponies is not merely a how-to guide. Its wonderfully insightful text and beautiful photos capture the spirit of what it is like to truly love horses.

Whether you're a seasoned rider, jumping in the saddle for the first time or simply someone who has had that childhood dream of owning your own pony, there is something for everyone here. Horses & Ponies will inspire equestrian enthusiasts of every age.

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