Posts Tagged ‘Walter Farley’



The 50th Annual Equine Affaire in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is just around the corner! Make sure you make time to visit the Eastern States Exposition Grounds November 13-16, 2014, for four days of superior equestrian education (not to mention all the fantastic pre-holiday shopping).

The staff at Trafalgar Square Books will be on-site with a large selection of our bestselling horse books and DVDs, and we look forward to meeting YOU in person when you stop by our booth #846/847 in the Better Living Center. And here are 5 more reasons to be sure to visit us next week:


Visit the TSB booth #846/847 at EA MA and sign up to win a complete set of 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN!

Visit the TSB booth #846/847 at EA MA and sign up to win a complete set of 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN!

1  WIN. That’s right. Swing by and sign up for your chance to win great prizes, including a complete set of the acclaimed 7 CLINICS WITH BUCK BRANNAMAN DVDs and a shopping spree at the TSB online store www.HorseandRiderBooks.com.

2  DEALS. We’ll be running show specials on our biggest titles, so save money on books and DVDs for yourself, for your barn or club, and for other horse people in your life. The more you buy, the bigger the bargain.

3  SOMETHING FOR EVERY HORSE LOVER. TSB has books and DVDs that will appeal to every rider, trainer, and horse person. Whatever discipline you enjoy, whatever breed you prefer, if your aim is to learn and improve in your riding, training, and management “for the good of the horse,” then we are…yes, I’m going to say it…on the same page!

4  FUN FOR YOUNG RIDERS. In honor of the 50th Annual Equine Affaire and the wonderful books on horses we all enjoyed as children (thank you, Marguerite Henry…thank you, Walter Farley and Mary O’Hara and so many others…), TSB invites all attendees ages 14 and under to write a short story or essay (fiction or nonfiction) about horses and bring a copy to our booth #846/847 in the Better Living Center. We’re accepting story submissions all four days of the event. Please include your name, age, mailing address, phone number, and an email address where you can be reached. Following the event, we will choose a winning story or essay to publish here on our blog, on our website www.HorseandRiderBooks.com, and on our social media feed. The winning young horse author will also receive a $50 Gift Certificate to use at www.HorseandRiderBooks.com. We look forward to lots of good reading!

5  TOP AUTHORS. TSB is proud to announce the following authors presenting at the 50th Annual Equine Affaire—below, please finds the dates and times and where on the show grounds our authors appear. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or stop by the TSB booth #846/847 in the Better Living Center, to find out when special author signings are scheduled.


Thursday, November 13: 10:00 am Youth Pavilion, 11:00 am Mallary Arena, 5:30 pm Mallary Arena

Friday, November 14: 10:00 am Nutrena Seminar Stage, 2:45 pm Mallary Arena, 5:45 pm Mallary Arena


Friday, November 14: 11:00 am Young Arena, 1:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring

Saturday, November 15: 1:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring, 4:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring


Thursday, November 13: 10:00 am Young Arena, 2:00 pm Young Arena

Friday, November 14: 2:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring, 4:00 pm Nutrena Seminar Stage


Thursday, November 13: 3:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring

Friday, November 14: 12:00 pm Absorbine Demo Ring


Friday, November 14: 11:00 am Youth Pavilion


Saturday, November 15: 11:00 am Nutrena Seminar Stage, 5:00 pm Nutrena Seminar Stage

Sunday, November 16: 11:00 am Nutrena Seminar Stage, 1:00 pm Nutrena Seminar Stage


See you at Equine Affaire!

See you at Equine Affaire!

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After one night in Vero Beach, where we did indeed lay our eyes on the ocean (just before promptly proclaiming it was “darned cold”), we ventured out to former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons’ Knoll Farm in Chuluota. (“Chuluota” means “Isle of Pines”—just a little Florida trivia for you.) It was a terrific afternoon spent looking at Anne’s amazing collection of photographs taken over the years and talking dressage, as well as visiting the barns and meeting some of the horses in residence.

We capped off the day by taking in the Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction in Orlando, where we were impressed by the quality of the riding and the general appreciation the performers showed their horses, with the occasional pat or stroke after a job well done, even while in the spotlight. The evening ends with a terrific “act,” where the “horse performers” are turned out loose in the arena, and the audience is invited to venture down to watch their antics and meet the riders. We so enjoyed seeing the equine crew having a good roll, a little tussle, and just basically being allowed to be “horses.”

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Mark Miller, owner and CEO of Arabian Nights, was kind enough to introduce himself and tell us a little about his family’s breeding business—Al-Marah Arabians—as well as the Horse Tales Literacy Project (formerly the Black Stallion Literacy Project), which he formed with his friend Tim Farley (son of author Walter Farley). Horse Tales Literacy Project is composed of both school-based and community programs where activities are developed around Walter Farley’s books and other classic horse literature, and since its inception in 1999 has inspired 600,000 first and fourth-fifth grade children to read—obviously, a cause we whole-heartedly support! Visit horsetalesliteracy.org to find out more about the program and how you can become involved.

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I cannot explain it. My three-year-old son loves a rusted tow truck called “Mater” who backfires when he wakes up and thinks “tractor tippin’s fuuuun.”

My son can sing that brain-worm song about Thomas being the “cheeky one,” and he knows the tune to Dinosaur Train well enough to drown out the DVD when it is playing.

My son has far more toy trucks, planes, and engines than stuffed animals or model livestock. He’s a machinehead with a toy tool box, a bike, a scooter, and an interest in checking their wheels every block or so.

But that boy loves The Black Stallion.

Granted, there is a scene where the Black and Alec travel on a train (one reason Seabiscuit is pulled from its shelf every now and again is the lengthy train tour the horse takes about mid-film). This may have been how my son was hooked to begin. But now, his favorite scene is quite the opposite end of the spectrum from the rattle of the tracks and the Black cross-tied securely in a boxstall on wheels. He loves the part when, after days on the island, watching, waiting, and surviving, Alec finds a way to make friends with the wild black horse with whom he’s found himself stranded.

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If it has been a while since you’ve viewed Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece (and it is one), find some way to make time to see this film again. The patience with which the island scenes are filmed is remarkable, particularly in this day and age. The poignancy of the relationship that develops between the young boy, Alec, and the horse that he calls “the Black” is so vibrant, so in the space that you inhabit, it will break your heart at the same time it sets you free.

As an adult, as a horse lover, as an appreciator of fine arts, I can easily pinpoint why it is that I find The Black Stallion so moving—why it is a film I can watch over and over again and still smile and cry at the same parts.

But my son…my son laughs at bad jokes cracked by animated characters. What is it about this movie that makes HIM choose it again and again?

Understandably, we speak less of “a boy and his horse” in today’s society than we did in the days of My Friend Flicka and The Red Pony. We speak less of “a boy and his dog.” We don’t live in the same kind of world we once did. But just because our world doesn’t make the same demands of our young men doesn’t mean that the young men don’t feel residual awareness and responsibility from “harder” times gone by. It doesn’t mean that the way a boy needed a horse or dog fifty years ago doesn’t still live somewhere deep down inside every male child who breathes air on this earth.

I feel I can draw some conclusions from how my son chooses to view The Black Stallion for the hundredth time. We always fast-forward to the moment Alec awakens on the shore of the island, the ocean water lapping at his torn pajamas, the rope from the Black’s halter cut on one end and tied round his waist on the other (the raw violence of the ship scenes is too real and too scary for a child my son’s age). Then, we watch, enraptured, as the camera spools out across beach and rock-face, as Alec and the Black meet, “break bread,” and then “play tag.” My son loves the moment where we in the audience can hear the Black’s lips reaching and missing the piece of seaweed Alec extends as offer of friendship. He wants to know why the horse backs away at first, why he is tentative, perhaps afraid, and even fierce in his insecurity. Then, my son marvels at the way boy and horse become one as the sun sets, rarely touching, and yet one moving with the other as a shell might move across the shore with the gentle swell of the tide.

Of course, that first riding scene adds excitement, anticipation, and then finally, speed, as Alec swings aboard and takes flight through the shallows along the island’s coast. My son always sits very erect during this part of the movie, and he laughs a little when Alec falls with a splash, remarking, “Here comes the Black, he’s turning around to come back and get Alec.”

What does this tell me about my son? That perhaps there is hope that one day he will ride horses alongside his mother? Maybe. Honestly, I don’t know that the Black is so much a “horse” to him…I think my son is enamored of Alec, a young boy he can identify with, who seeks and finds this powerful creature, and determines a way to share in some of that power. Alec is still small, relatively weak, but with the Black on his side, he has strong legs to tow him to shore, sharp hooves to strike down venomous creatures, and speed to outrun the worst of all enemies—loneliness and fear of being left behind for eternity.

The Black is an emblem, a totem, of the will to survive that is no doubt inherent in most humans at birth, or not long after. The Black is a rite of passage, a challenge to the young man to control with forces other than might, and to understand how those skills can be applied elsewhere in life. The Black is a friend, trusting and true, and present beside you even when you’re not sure if anyone else is aware of, or cares about, your struggles.

My son loves The Black Stallion because it makes him feel fast, strong, smart, tenacious, and kind. For an hour or so, he becomes that freckled young boy so at home leaning against the Black’s side or riding on his back. My son grows up, and likes it, a little more every time we see the film.

Fiction that becomes a bit more real and gains just a little more life as the years go by and more people come to appreciate it—it is so worth it. It’s just so worth it.

Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

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