I probably came to Samantha Alexander a bit late to appreciate her: certainly as far as her Riders series went. I just can’t see the 14-year-old heroine and her relationship with the 19-year-old event rider, particularly now, when I am the mother of a nearly 14-year-old: the idea of her going out with someone who was 19 would make me spit tacks. Maybe if I’d read the series when I was 14 it would have been blissful wish fulfilment, but I didn’t. The Riding School series I find better – certainly more plausible.
Alexander wrote four series, but nothing as far as I can find, after 2002, unless she is writing under a different name. Samantha Alexander worked as an agony aunt with Horse and Pony magazine - she had previously done a stint as a teenage agony aunt for BBC Radio Leeds, so she certainly had plenty of experience of teenage drama and angst.
The Hollywell Stables Series
Hollywell Stables is a sanctuary for horses and ponies. It’s run by Mel (12), and her brother Ross (14), and sister Katie (9), and their lives are a perpetual balancing act between finding money to run the sanctuary, and rescuing what horses and ponies they can.
The covers for this series were shot, I think, at Suzanne’s Riding School. This was the longest running riding school under the same ownership until it closed in 2004. It was started by Suzanne Marczak when she was a teenager in 1939 with 2 horses and 2 ponies, and was then run by her son Julian.
The Riders Series
This follows the adventures of 14-year-old Alex Johnson, her 19-year-old boyfriend Ash “Flash” Burgess, eventing star, and Alex’s dun pony Barney.
The girl who stars as Alex on the cover is Sally Johnson, who won a competition in Horse and Pony magazine to find a cover girl. The covers were shot at Sandridgebury Stables, by Bob Langrish.
The Riding School Series
This series follows the fortunes of a set of girls at the Brook House Riding School, and tells their individual stories.
The Winners Series
Set in the racing world, this series is about Justina Brookes, and her ambition to win the Grand National.
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood and Dawn Harrison, without whom these pages would be sad and bald.
Finding the books
The books are mostly very easy to find, and generally cheap. None of her books, as far as I know, were ever published in hardback, so all books listed in the bibliography are paperback. All the books are reasonably easy to find.
Common: Against the Clock, Crossing the Line, Emma, Fame, Flying Start, Trapped, Deceit, The Chase, In The Frame, Jodie, Kate, Peak Performance, Perfect Timing, Race to Glory, Rachel, Racing Start, Revenge, Rising Star, Running Wild, Secrets, Sophie, Steph, Team Spirit, The Chase, The Mission, Trapped, Will to Win, Winning Streak, The Gamble, Winners
Difficult: Breaking the Rules