Kearley, B L

About the author

Bernard Leslie Kearley wrote three books in the instruction-masquerading-as-a-story genre. They are , visually at least, really attractive books. Kearley’s books improved in quality as he went on. Let’s Go Riding is a fairly pedestrian read: perhaps it is more involving if you have no riding experience at all, but a more wide-ranging plot than two teenagers learning to ride might have helped it. It is of course a period piece, and it is interesting to see the changes in riding styles over the 70 years since the book was written. Once the author decided to let his characters and their stories comes to the fore, the still-present instruction was imparted in a much more easily digestible fashion. Let’s Meet Again is a completely different animal from Let’s Go Riding, and a good read. The author imparts his instruction much more easily, and the machinations of the characters and plot make it a good read.

B L Kearley had experience with many packs, from ‘the hill counties of the North and West to the pasture, plough and woodland of the Midland and Home Counties …’ He also wrote under the pseudonym Field Sportsman, and according to the dustjacket of Let’s Meet Again, ‘contributed much to the literature of the sport.’ I assume he contributed to periodicals under that name, as I haven’t been able to find anything authored by The Field Sportsman.

The illustrator of Let’s Meet Again, L G Illingworth, was also a hunting man.

Finding the books
All the books are easy to find, and not at all expensive.

Dustjackets of the books


Let’s go riding

Nelson, London, 1937, illus Colin DillyReprinted 1937, 1946, 1959

John and Jane Vanster learn to ride, taught by Mr Wisp. The story is mixed with periods of instruction: much of it still relevant, though some of it is definitely of its time. The emphasis on quietness at all times with the horse is still just as pertinent today as it was then. It’s not the most riveting of reads: really a traditional learning to ride story with a gymkhana at the end, but with far more direct instruction than normal.

Let’s Go Hunting

Ernest Benn, London, 1950, 191 pp. Illus Graham Smith

This title is about the Ayrton Hunt, and I presume the same characters as Let’s Go Riding. Here’s theblurb:  

“The author of Let’s Go Riding gives us here a picture of hunting, hunting countries and hunting people whichrouses the same excitement as the echo of a distant tally-ho. While informative about all aspects of the sportin a lively story-telling way, Let’s Go Hunting is at the same time a story of adventure in which all sorts take partfrom the Master of the Hunt to Tims the grocer on his cob.”

Let’s Meet Again

Ernest Benn, London, 1952, 238 pp. Illus L G Illingworth

Jane has now joined Mr Wisp, and they have founded Wisp, Vanster and Company Ltd; dealing in horses and teaching riding. Mrs Bendix and Mr Flagg have bought between them a chestnut horse, Barnone, but turned him vicious, and Barnone has attacked Mr Flagg. As they both dislike Mr Wisp and Jane, they send the horse to him to ruin his reputation. After more shenanigans, Bendix and Flagg are eventually discredited, and Barnone is saved. This is an infinitely better read than Let’s Go Riding: there is plenty of information there on hunting, both fox and hare, but it’s imparted much more gracefully and there is a strong enough story to carry the instruction.

Non fiction

Riding Made Easy
Country Life, London, 1957

You and Your Horse
Country Life, London, 1967