In equestrian fiction, stories based on real-life events are always the best and this new book for young readers is no exception.
Aimed at nine-year-olds and up, The Princess and the Foal is based on the early life of Princess Haya of Jordan, current president of horse sport’s world governing body, the FEI.
Author Stacy Gregg, who wrote the Pony Club Secrets and Pony Club Rivals series, said she had been looking to incorporate Haya into one of her books, but felt that her early life was a story in itself.
That it is; and many of the events in this fictional account really did happen. Parts of the book will in turn sadden, entertain, and inspire the young reader – and those not so young.
Life is not easy for the young princess after she loses her mother at the tender age of three. In the ensuing years, she becomes quiet and withdrawn, but when a foal is born at the Royal stables Haya must rally to help. She has much in common with the young filly, and she gives Haya the focus she needs to emerge from her shell.
And as her skill in the saddle grows, she tries to join the team to vie for the King’s Cup, in honour of her father, King Hussein.
To do this, the young princess will have to learn the arabian art of falconry, and also vaulting. This is “unconventional” behaviour for a princess, and her equestrian endeavours are met with resistance from some quarters. She has an ally in her younger brother, Prince Ali, but Haya’s chances of making the team are slim: she is too young, she is a girl, and worst of all, she is a princess!
While many of the past equestrian classics for youngsters are pure fiction, The Princess and the Foal is a mix, telling the story of a real horse and a real girl who must defy the odds to reach her goal.
The book itself is beautifully presented, with a striking dustjacket covering a pale pink binding, with a dark pink fabric bookmark. It will make a treasured addition to the bookshelf of the young equestrienne.
The author of 17 books, Stacy Gregg has reinvigorated the pony genre with her two popular series Pony Club Secrets and Pony Club Rivals. A former journalist, Stacy undertook extensive research, travelling to Jordan at the request of Princess Haya.
Given unprecedented access to the palaces and royal stables, she conducted lengthy interviews with Haya, her family and friends to bring The Princess and the Foal to life.
Stacy completely understands the desperation of wannabe horsey girls who want a pony of their own. She spent many frustrating horseless years training her bewildered dog to showjump in the back yard until her parents gave in and she got her first pony – a swaybacked brown mare named Bonnie.
Stacy’s ponies, and her experiences at her local pony club provided the inspiration for the Pony Club Secrets books. Her later years at boarding school are now coming in handy too as the catalyst for her new series, Pony Club Rivals.