About the author
Patsey Gray rode as a child; showing hunters and jumpers and riding in races and rodeos. She won some 500 events, and continued riding after she married Dr Gerald Gray, a plastic surgeon. They lived on a ranch in California, on which they bred Appaloosas. Patsey Gray began writing when she was bedridden after a series of riding accidents. She said:
Naturally I write about children and horses, since they are all I know anything about. My characters and scenes are always available. When I found I could sell my stories I took some night courses at the University of California. My writing habits consist of scribbling away longhand, whenever and wherever I find time, usually for a couple of hours after I’m through riding in the morning.
Patsey Gray wrote about English and Western disciplines. Her books were mostly illustrated by Sam Savitt: Challenger and Diving Horse are particularly lovely. Her one series is the Star series: Horse Trap is nominally the first of the series, though not essential to it, as Star is born at the end of the book. Patsey Gray’s books cover other disciplines beside Western Pleasure: she features showjumping and racing, and even diving horses (thankfully diving horses are now consigned to literature and no longer perform).
Patsey Gray wrote one book under the name Virginia Clark, The Mysterious Buckskin.
Finding the books
Challenger was the only title issued in the UK, It can be picked up cheaply if you’re lucky, but can also be extremely expensive. Horse Trap is another which is expensive. Finding any of the titles as non-library editions is difficult.
Links and sources
Horsepower – biographical note on dustjacket
Many, many thanks to Susan Bourgeau, who supplied all the information, and virtually all the cover shots.
The Star Series
The Horse Trap
Star the Seahorse
Bibliography (horse books only)
Coward-McCann, 1956, illus Leonard Shortall
Scholastic pb reprint 1961, and 1965, illus Leonard Shortall
“Peggy rides Mr McGrugeon’s jumpers during the fair season, and at one fair she becomes friends with the trick riding Tucker family and wishes that she lived with such a friendly family instead of her own foster family.”
The Doggone Roan
Coward-McCann, New York, 1957, illus Paul Frame
“Babe helps her dad take care of their racing Quarter Horse Strawberry, but when her dad breaks his arm and then Strawberry is injured, Babe is afraid they’ll have to get out of racing.”
Coward-McCann, 1958, illus Leonard Shortall
Sandy thinks she might have to sell her filly Dove, as the ranch is in trouble financially. She works her hardest while her parents are away, trying to make the ranch self-sufficient, and then an earthquake strikes.
Coward-McCann, 1958, illus Leonard Shortall
Sue had to sell her colt Pal two years ago, and has been saving ever since so she can buy him back. She goes to the big palomino horse show, hoping she can buy him, but finds out that he has become a very valuable animal.
Coward-McCann, New York, 1959, illus Sam Savitt
UK: Dent, London, 1960
Ellie thinks she knows her horse, Challenger, really well, but training her friend Pam
to ride him well is a real challenge.
Horse in Her Heart
Coward-McCann, 1960, illus Sam Savitt
Carol has managed to spoil her horse Skipper, but won’t let Jim help her to retrain him. Then she goes to France, and learns that horses and people both need discipline.
Coward-McCann, New York, 1960, illus Sam Savitt
Annie has managed to train her horse Spotty to do a diving act, but before their first ever
performance, she gets stage fright and finds her nerves have been communicated to her horse.
The Mysterious Buckskin
Patsey Gray writing as Virginia Clark
Cover art by Charles W. Walker
Ann and Ken are leading a group of three on a long trail ride. Ann thinks the buckskin horse one of them is riding looks like her horse Frosty, who was stolen.
Loco, the Bronc
Edward McCann, New York, 1961, Illus Sam Savitt
The bucking horse Loco was left behind by the rodeo as he was sick. Lynn helps the caretaker care for him, and when she forms a relationship with the sick horse, tries to talk the owner of the rodeo into selling her the horse.
The Horse Trap
Coward-McCann, 1962, illus Leonard Shortall
Deborah Lee Bell has two problems: one, that she doesn’t own a horse, and two, that she doesn’t tend to think before she acts.
Show Ring Rogue
Coward-McCann, 1963, illus Leonard Shortall
Sheila has a brace on her leg after an illness, and doesn’t want anyone to see her riding with it. She meets the horse Rogue, who refuses to go into the show ring, and together they solve each other’s problems.
Norton, New York, 1964, right
Young Readers’ Press, NY, 1968 pb, far right
Debbie has a horse: Star Bright, but he will have to earn his living be being useful on the farm, or he will have to go.
Norton, New York, 1965, right
Young Readers’ Press, NY, 1966, pb, far right
Debbie and Maureen go on a camping trip with their horses, but because Debbie won’t listen to what she’s told, both horses escape and are lost.
Norton, 1965, illus Sam Savitt, right
Young Reader Press, 1965, far right
Miss Van leaves the club stables for two months, and Jill finds her replacement,
Captain Clark, difficult to get on with. He’s conceited, and seems to want to spoil her success in showing Jack.
Norton, New York,1966, illus Sam Savitt,170 pp. right
Young Readers’ Press, New York, 1969, far right
Norton, New York, 1966
This is more a girl and animals story than a pony book. “Norah and Kelly are stranded at a hunting lodge during a California flood, and as the flood waters rise, various animals seek refuge at the lodge, including an Arabian mare and later her young foal.”
Norton, New York, 1967
Deb wants her mother and Mr Bailey, the man who takes care of her horse, Star, to get married. When Mr Bailey announces he’s been offered another job, Deb starts scheming to prevent him from going.
Star, the Sea Horse
Norton, New York, 1968
Deb is bored with the ranch, and bored with her friend. She visits her friend Kitty on the beach, but finds her bright idea of keeping her horse, Star, in Kitty’s flimsy corral won’t work.
Blue Ribbon Summer
W W Norton, New York,1968
Jean has been looking forward at the summer show circuit, competing with her horse, Nobleman, and seeing Ron. However, Ron brings his younger sister along, and she is a natural rider. Jean is jealous.
The Flag Is Up
Camden, NJ, Nelson, 1970
Pablo and his grandfather find themselves in charge of a racehorse: they feel they can’t let him go back to his careless owners. He’s too good for that.
Ace Tempo, New York, 1983, reprinted 1986
Don’t Forget To Write
Ace Tempo, 1983
Happiness is a Well-Trained Horse
Farnam, Nebraska, 1979. Pb.
Show and Tell: how to win Trail Classes
A S Barnes, 1976
Barefoot a Thousand Miles
Walker, New York, 1984