Bates, Michelle

About the author

The Sandy Lane Stables series has managed to survive several reprints, and has not been out of print since it came out in the mid 1990s. It is a classic pony book series, centred round a riding stables, and the adventures of the group of children who ride there. It’s free of the fantasy elements which infest so many pony books in the 21st century, and its latest set of covers features neither pink nor sparkles. The series is unusual in being openly written by two different authors.

Michelle Bates was in her twenties when she started writing the series, having had a passion for horses as a child. She has since worked as an editor. Her co-author, Susannah Leigh, besides contributing four titles in the Sandy Lane Stables series, has also written many other children’s books, most notably the Puzzle series for Usborne (adored by my children). She is listed as editor of some of the Sandy Lane series. Who wrote which book isn’t always clear: Strangers at the Stables and The Midnight Horse have Michelle Bates listed as author in earlier editions, and Susannah Leigh in the latest printings.

Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood for all her help with this section.

Finding the books
The series is still in print. Second hand copies are very easy to find, and very cheap.

A little snippet on Michelle Bates

The series

Sandy Lane Stables

A Horse for the Summer
The Runaway Pony
Strangers at the Stables
The Midnight Horse
Dream Pony
Ride by Moonlight
Horse in Danger
The Perfect Pony
Riding Holiday

Bibliography (pony books only)


Usborne, 1996, 109 pp
EDC Publishing, 1996 (USA)
In Welsh:  Miri Madog, Gomer, 1997
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hardback

“When Tom is lent a prize-winning show jumper for the summer, things don’t turn out quite as he had hoped. Chancy is wild and unpredictable and Tom is forced to start training him in secret. But the days of summer are numbered and Chancy isn’t Tom’s to keep forever. At some point, he will have to give him back.”


Usborne, 1996
Usborne Books , 2003, USA

“When the riderless palomino pony clatters into the yard, no one is more surprised than Jess. Hot on the pony’s hooves comes a man waving a head collar. Jess helps him catch the pony and sends them on their way. Little is she to know what far-reaching consequences her simple actions will have….”


Usborne, London, 1996, 113 pp.
EDC Publishing, 1996, USA
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

My review of Strangers at the Stables

“When the owners of Sandy Lane are called away, everyone still expects the stables to run smoothly in their absence. No one is quite prepared for all the things that happen over the next few weeks. There isn’t time to get help – the children of Sandy Lane have to act fast, if they want to save their stables…”


Usborne, London, 1996, 112 pp.
EDC Publishing, 1998, USA
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“Riding at the Hawthorn Horse Trials is all that Kate has dreamed of and this year she’s in with a real chance of winning. As she works hard to prepare for the day, it seems nothing will distract her from her goal. But then the mysterious midnight horse rides into Kate’s life, and suddenly everything changes….”


Usborne 1996, London, hb, 112 pp.
EDC Publishing, 1998, USA
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“Jess Adams loves riding, and she especially loves riding the ponies at Sandy Lane. When the smart Rychester Riding Stables opens its doors down the road, she doesn’t imagine for a moment it will make any difference to her. But then something happens to change all that… Something that tests Jess’s loyalty to the limit….”


Usborne, London, 1997, 108pp.  Not illus.  2 pgs of maps
EDC Publishing, 1998, USA
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“When Charlie loses his nerve in a riding accident, no one thinks for a moment it’ll be long before he’s back in the saddle. But as the weeks go by, his friends begin to realise it’s going to take something quite exceptional to get him riding again…”


Usborne, 1998
EDC Publishing, 2003, USA
Usborne, 2009
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“Rosie and Jess have always been the best of friends, but they have found themselves drifting apart. During a treasure hunt ride, Rosie sets out to make amends. But what she discovers that day takes her down a path of deception and danger, putting her friendship with Jess to the ultimate test. Stumbling across a plot to fix a race, Rosie is torn between saving a horse and losing her best friend. What will she do?”


Usborne, 1998, 2009, 112 pp.
Scholastic, New York, 2004
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“Alex’s sister Kate cannot believe what he’s done. Alex thought he was solving lots of problems buying a pony at a local auction. So he’s in for a shock when he realizes he is now the owner of Puzzle, a filthy, thin and abused pony. But worse is to come, for Puzzle is in such a state, she may have to be put down..”


Usborne , 1998, 2003, 2009
As Racing Vacation, Scholastic, 2003, USA
Usborne Books, 2016, hb

“Kate and Izzy have left Sandy Lane Stables for a three-week riding holiday at racing stables in America. But they’re not doing much riding, the owner is mysteriously missing and everyone seems to be keeping a secret. Then a horse’s life is threatened…”


Usborne 1997

A Horse for the Summer
The Runaway Pony
Strangers at the Stables