Jane Ayres

British author. Born in Peterborough in 1962, Jane Ayres loved horses from an early age but gave up riding after a bad fall. She had her first story published when she was just 14 years old, and went on from there to write a number of stories, articles and books, including many pony books. Although she is a British author, most of her pony books have not been published in the UK, in fact many of them have not even been published in the English language. I have included all I know of that are printed in English, most of these have been published by the Stabenfeldt specialist equine publishers. Only two were published in the UK. This is a fate sadly shared by many British pony authors at the moment and one can only hope that British publishers will come to their senses and begin to appreciate their home grown authors more!

Jane writes some of the best modern pony stories around. They are very traditional in nature, and for that reason will also appeal to the older pony book reader who is a little jaded by the current crop of vacuous 'teen' stories which seem to dominate at the moment.

Jane is a vegetarian and is interested in animal welfare, in particular supporting the Brooke Hospital for Animals. As well as writing, she also teaches music and English.

Many thanks to Jane who recently did a short interview for us on the Ponymadbooklovers Blog. (See link)


Matty series:

1) MATTY AND THE MOONLIGHT HORSE
(PONY/STABENFELDT [USA] PB 2005)
Also published in Germany (possibly originally)
It was additionally published in a 2 in 1 volume along with
Gallop to the Sea by Sharon Siamon
Has not been published in the UK
SUMMARY: 
Meet Matty and her best friends Ronnie, Spike and Gena. They're the charter members of the Pony-less Club. They work hard at the local riding academy, mucking out stalls, sweeping the yard, washing the water buckets, grooming the ponies, praying that Miss Pugh, the world's worst riding instructor, will allow them a few measly rides. But now they have a plan - to work even harder, pool all their savings, and buy a horse together! But then a mysterious horse appears in the local graveyard…
PONYMAD VIEW: Written in a chatty, light-hearted style which is a marked contrast to most of the author's other pony books. Although I prefer the other more complex and emotionally challenging books, this one and its sequel are nevertheless very readable, with lively and sympathetic characters and are ideal for a nice light read.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

2)) MATTY AND THE PROBLEM PONIES
(PONY/STABENFELDT [USA] PB 2006)
Also published in Germany (possibly originally)
Has not been published in the UK
SUMMARY: Matty and her three friends are now the proud co-owners of their own pony. But Comfort does not turn out to be the sweet, placid pony she was advertised as, and has many uncomfortable surprises in store for them. Add a glamorous blonde bedazzling Matty's boyfriend Mark and a frantic search for Mark's old pony Daydream into the mix, and there is never a dull moment for Matty and her pals!
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES
Read Review

Collectors Info:
As mentioned above, although British, many of Jane Ayre's books have been published in the USA and Europe, rather than the UK. The Matty books are fairly easy to get hold of in America or Germany. Matty and the Problem Ponies may still be available from the Stabenfeldt/Pony website

Jenni, Ella and Holly Series:

1) THE HORSE ON THE BALCONY
(PONY/STABENFELDT [USA] PB 2009)
SUMMARY: Two accidents crush the lives of two girls in very different ways: for Jenni, an accident on her horse Smokey causes her to withdraw from life; and for Holly, an accident that she feels responsible for involving her sister Claire alienates her from her own family. But when a mysterious horse appears on the balcony of an apartment complex in a very unlikely part of town, the two girls find themselves drawn together with a common goal that may help both of them.
PONYMAD VIEW: One of the best post 2000 pony books written. Combines a traditional pony story with a sensitive portrayal of grief and guilt.
PONYMAD RATING: 4-5 HORSESHOES
Read Review

2) DARK HORSES
(PONY/STABENFELDT [USA] PB 2009)
SUMMARY: When Jenni takes on two rescue horses named Firebrand and Laser, she's convinced that they are perfect, although her friends Ella and Holly aren't so sure. Then Ella is injured by one of the horses, and the girls start looking for clues about the horses' strange behaviour. A hidden diary mysteriously appears and Holly learns of a terrible tragedy and even darker secrets. She discovers that her friends are in  danger, and she'll have to race against time to save them!
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

3) THE RUNAWAY HORSE
(PONY/STABENFELDT [USA] PB 2010)
SUMMARY: Holly is off to spend the summer holidays at her Aunt's B & B at a seaside town, but she feels left out of things as her twin  cousins don't seem to take to her. When she rescues a runaway horse she meets a boy named Jordan who lives in a creepy old house. She feels drawn to the boy but her cousins warn her against him, hinting of some dark secret in his past. But worse than that the runaway horse is condemned to death! Can she solve the mystery and save the horse?
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES


Collectors Info:
Reasonably easy to find second hand in the USA. Some may still be available new from the Stabenfeldt/Pony website. Hard to find outside of America.

Other Pony Books:

HORSES IN THE GALLERY
(ARMADA PB 1990)
ILLUSTRATED BY RICHARD ALLEN
SUMMARY: A collection of short stories within a story, as two children visit an art gallery and learn the stories of the horses in the pictures.
Good quality short stories.
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES

THE GREAT HORSE RESCUE
(J A ALLEN PB 1996)
SUMMARY: When the local livery yard is due to be demolished to make way for a DIY superstore, Moya and Sue search desperately for a new place to keep their ponies. Just when things are looking hopeless, the girls meet a bunch of squatters living at an abandoned manor house, and they suggest the girls keep the horses in the stables there. However problems arise when more horses appear and all have to be looked after in secret. And to make matters worse the former mystery occupants of the house reappear!
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

TRANSITIONS
(PONY/STABENFELDT PB [USA] 2001)
Not published in the UK.
SUMMARY: Annie is in the enviable position of looking for a new pony. After having lost her nerve somewhat with the flighty pony she used to share with a friend, she is now looking for a quiet easy to ride type. When she meets Elizabeth and her horse Rocket, she soon realises this handsome but fiery horse is too much for her. But Elizabeth seems determined that Annie should take on Rocket. When Elizabeth explains that she must sell her horse because she has a terrible illness and that she  feels Annie is the right person to have him, Annie is unable to refuse. But learning to cope with Rocket and becoming close friends with a very ill girl are not easy tasks.
PONYMAD VIEW: Superb traditional pony story, perhaps the author's best. This is not a comfort blanket read, and like many of the author's other books, explores difficult situations and emotions at the same time as providing a highly readable pony story. Considering the subject matter, it is not at all maudlin or mawkish. Highly recommended.
PONY MAD RATING: 5 HORSESHOES

ZEPHYR OF WILD HORSE ISLAND
(PONY/STABENFELDT PB [USA] 2009)
Not published in the UK.
SUMMARY: Unusual pony story. When his owner dies, an Arab stallion living on a remote stud farm on an island escapes to live in the wild with his mares. But his idyllic wild existence is cut short by a poacher. He escapes but is now far from home and injured. As he tries to find his way back home to his mares, he encounters three lonely people who help him and in return he changes their lives forever.
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES
Read Review


LAST CHANCE HORSE
(PONY/STABENFELDT PB [USA] 2010)
Not published in the UK.
SUMMARY: Kat's twin sister is a famous teen film actress and Kat feels left out and neglected. Her behaviour takes a downward spiral and she gets into trouble at school. When she meets Pagan, a TB-Shire cross who has also been branded a trouble maker she feels an immediate affinity. Can girl and horse help each other?
PONYMAD VIEW: Above average, intelligent pony story. The author has once again combined a very readable traditional pony story with a sensitive study of emotions, in this case the jealousy and a sense of isolation and inadequacy which our heroine feels.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES


Collectors Info:
Horses in the Gallery which was published in the UK is very easy to find here. The Great Horse Rescue was also published in the UK but is harder to find  (although not expensive). It appears very hard to find in the USA and may be pricey. The others were published in the USA and are hard to find in the UK. 

Short stories in other books & collections:

RIDING FOR A RED
in
RIDE LIKE THE WIND
(ORION PB 1997)
A short story contained in a compilation of 5 pony stories by various other authors including Christine Pullein-Thompson
BOOKS SUMMARY: More about the compilation itself can be found on the British Short Story Collections web page
STORY SUMMARY: When Gerry's older sister Louise breaks her leg she pleads with Gerry to ride her thoroughbred Gothic in an upcoming event she has spent ages qualifying him for. But Gothic is temperamental and Gerry is more at home on her quiet gentle Welsh mare: how will she cope?
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Collectors Info:
Paperback original. Easy to find in the UK on Amazon, etc. A bit harder to get hold of elsewhere.

Miscellaneous:

HOOFBEATS
in
WHY WE RIDE: WOMEN WRITERS ON THE HORSES IN THEIR LIVES
(Edited by Verna Dreisbach)
(SEAL PB [USA] 2010)
SUMMARY: This is an essay by Ms. Ayres in an interesting book in which women writers (mainly USA) talk about how horses have influenced their lives. Although not fictional, it is a glimpse into the author's personal relationship with horses. The book has a foreword by fellow equine author Jane Smiley

Collectors Info:
Paperback original. The book is in print at the moment and can be bought new and second-hand in both the UK and USA.