The Promise Horse by Jackie Merchant

In this middle-grade novel pitched at horse lovers there is plenty of other drama too. Harry and her sister, Sissy, have always longed for a horse. But it is only after Sissy dies and the family moves to the country that Harry is allowed to borrow a horse, a giant on four legs named Marksman. Harry must learn to care for Marksman and improve her riding skills if she has any hope of being allowed to attend the gymkhana at the end of summer.

For any horse lover, there are lovely scenes of getting to know and trust a new horse, as well as gaining confidence riding. There are also added layers of a grieving family, particularly Harry’s mother, and her sister’s voice that only Harry can hear. Secondary characters, including a kind riding teacher and a troubled bully, are also welldrawn.

What initially appears to be a simple horse story is actually a sophisticated drama that will resonate not only with horse lovers but also readers aged 8-11 who enjoy stories about overcoming hardship.

Angela Crocombe is the shop mananger at Readings Kids.