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I mentioned previously how I love to use living books to teach history. I love how a fictional story, with real elements from history, can really make a time period come alive and allow you to feel more connected to that time and place.

Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series of books published by Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books is sure to delight young readers while providing an exciting look back in time.

About The Author

Mattie Richardson used to be known as, “North Dakota’s Teen Author,” because she wrote the first book in this series when she was just thirteen years old! She now is a young woman with six books to her name so far, and plenty more to come.

About The Horses In History Series

This series currently includes four books. The books are standalone stories and you do not need to read one to understand the others, but you can purchase as a set. Continuation of the Horses in History series is in the works and you’ll be able to resume your journey through history via these fun and engaging books in the years to come.


Appaloosy is the first book written by teen author Mattie Richardson. In Appaloosy you meet Storm, a brown Appaloosa stallion that belongs to the Nez Perce tribe. He longs to be free, but when he gets the chance to do so, will he take it?

My take: This book has an excellent vocabulary and an exciting plot, but the story can be a little stiff at times. Things don’t always flow smoothly from one character or storyline to the next, however, considering the author was 13yrs old when she wrote it that may be expected. Overall it is pretty well written and easy to read. 

Dusty’s Trail

Dusty is content to live out life on the ranch, but his owner Levi has other ideas for him. Soon they become part of the Pony Express – how exciting!

My take: The Pony Express has always been an interesting topic for me and I really enjoyed reading this book. Dusty’s Trail was an entertaining story, and the historical references at the end of the book were the icing on the cake. I loved learning that Steel Dust (Dusty’s grandfather in the story) is the ancestor of most of the quarter horses we see today.

Day And Night

Day And Night follows Tucker and Shiloh, two young horses who were separated at the beginning of the Civil War. With one going to a Confederate soldier and one to the US Army, will the horses ever see each other again? And if they do, what will happen?

My take: This book was written several years later than the first, and while the writing is more descriptive, the overall format remains the same. There is still some stiffness to the writing, but the flow is a little better. As far as children’s books go, I think kids will really like reading these books and will enjoy the stories.

Golden Sunrise

A story about a Palomino horse, Cheyenne, that lives in Texas in the early 1800s. Texas is fighting for independence and Cheyenne is caught up in it all. She gets to meet famous people like Davy Crockett and visit famous places, like Fort Alamo.

My Take: Golden Sunrise is the fourth book in the Horses in History Series, and again the story feels choppy, almost as if some parts could use more details to enhance what the reader is imagining or to provide clarity. While the historical references are good, and the story is enjoyable, I think a little deeper dive into some of the specific battles, or what happened afterward, could have enhanced the overall storyline.

Final Thoughts on the Horses in History Series

Note: Although my kids haven’t read through all of the books yet, I’ve read through them all in order to give my thoughts. My daughter has read one book so far during her free reading time.

Overall the books are easy to read, and I think young readers will find them enjoyable. My daughter found Appaloosy to be interesting and enjoyed reading about Storm’s adventures in the book, Appaloosy. We both recommend them to anyone interested in history, or simply looking for a good read.

As a parent, I love the historical references at the end of each book. Reading those tidbits of history really helps bring a lot of context to the time period. It may be beneficial to read that section first, then as you are reading the book you and your child can discuss how it corresponds with actual historical events.

There are also vocabulary words at the beginning of each book that are helpful to the reader. Depending on the book, these may be words in another language, words that aren’t commonly used anymore, or vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to some.

The planned enrichment guides for each book will truly make these a great way to take a journey through the historical aspects of each book. Day And Night currently has an enrichment guide available and it is quite comprehensive. There are discussion questions, vocabulary activities, activities, field trip ideas, and so much more. I can’t wait until that book lines up with our history lessons — I will be using the enrichment guides for sure!

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Book Set: Appaloosy, Dusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise & Day and Night {Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books Reviews}
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