Mona Sandler

British author of horsy fiction and non-fiction. Until recently I thought she had only written her non-fictional book Riding With Simon, but then found she had also written a short two part fictional series.  All are fairly good reads and in fact the non-fictional work is just as enjoyable to read as the fiction, and almost reads like a story in a pony novel. All the books are attractive with nicely designed dust jackets and excellent illustrators including the likes of Sheila Rose, Michael Lyne and David Rook (who also wrote a pony story of his own).

Unfortunately all the books are quite hard to find now, especially outside of the UK, and they can be fairly pricey.

Steep Farm Stables Series:
Short series suitable for older children. Well written but unfortunately a little marred by an elitist attitude throughout the books and the rather cold characters of the girls.

1) THE YOUNG HORSE DEALERS
(COUNTRY LIFE 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID ROOK
Fairly rare
SUMMARY: When sixteen year old Jean announces she intends to set up her own horse dealership her parents are horrified, but with the help of friends Moyra and Mike, the venture is a success.
PONYMAD VIEW: Readable and entertaining enough but the girls' attempt to be a success as dealers isn't that gripping due to the fact that they are using rich daddy's land and stables. There is no real tension in the story at all and the account that are shown to prove the girls are making money are downright laughable. Also Moyra in particular comes across as a fairly unsympathetic And cold character. For instance she has no qualms about selling her own horse to make money for the business, and when another horse dies the girls don't seem particularly heartbroken.
PONYMAD RATING: 2-3 HORSESHOES

2) STEEP FARM STABLES
(COUNTRY LIFE 1958)
ILLUSTRATED BY SHEILA ROSE
Rare.
SUMMARY: Jean, Moyra and their new employee Effie are prospering in their dealing and livery business. But then tragedy strikes…
PONYMAD VIEW: I found this an improvement on its predecessor. The character of Effie is a great addition, she is a much more interesting and sympathetic character than the other two girls. Moyra also improves a little and even rescues a badly treated horse. There is a little bit more variety in the book due to the girls also doing liveries and breaking horses as well as dealing. Unfortunately there is a bit of a class issue, which does not sit well with the modern reader, as the working class Effie is constantly being teased by the other two more priviliged girls.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Can be quite hard to find, especially outside of the UK. Steep Farm Stables is the hardest one of the pair to track down.

Other Horse & Pony Books (non-fiction):

RIDING WITH SIMON
(COUNTRY LIFE 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY DAVID ROOK
Fairly rare
SUMMARY: Although I don't normally add non-fiction to the website, this title has been included because it reads almost like a pony story and will be readable even to those who don't normally like non-fiction. The author tells of how she overcomes her nerves and rehabilitates the broken down pony Simon at the same time.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Although not a common title, it is a lot easier to find than the Steep Farm Stables series, although rare outside of the UK.