About the author
Helen Orr Watson was married to a military man, Colonel James Tolmie-Watson. and wrote several military-themed animal books. She also wrote many short stories, and taught the art of short story writing in the Philippines, and in Washington DC at YWCA and Southeastern University. She was vice president of the National League of American Pen Women, which serves to “promote the production of creative work of professional standard in Art, Letters, and Music.” It is also “dedicated to sharing [its] talents and time with non-members through outreach programs to foster the arts.” Helen Orr Watson also served as president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington. After her husband’s death, she lived in Washington DC.
Finding the books
None of her horse titles were published in the UK. None of the titles are hard to find in the US, and none are particularly expensive.
Links and sources
Terri A. Wear: Horse Stories, an Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, 1987
Culver Academy’s Black Horse Troop
A contemporary review of Shavetail Sam, Boys’ Life, 1945
Biographical Information, Eugene Register-Guard, June 21, 1953 (no longer accessible)
Website of the National League of American Pen Women
Many thanks to Lisa Catz, Susan Bourgeau and Alison for all their help with this section.
Bibliography (horse books only)
Top Kick, U. S. Army Horse
Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1942, 217 pp, illus Bernard Garbutt
“Top Kick was born at an Army Remount Depot, where he got his name fromjumping over the pasture fence when just a couple of weeks old. He was trained as a cavalry horse, and went to the Philippines for peace-time
manoeuvres. Then bombs fell on Pearl Harbour, and Top Kick began active service.
Shavetail Sam, U.S. Army Mule
Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1944, 163 pp, illus Bernard Garbutt
Sam is trained by Elmer, and is sold to the US Army for a pack and riding mule. He goes overseasinto battle, where he is blinded by a bomb. Eventually he is reunited with Elmer.
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1946, 198 pp, illus Manning de V Lee
Zan finds a dying colt after its mother has been killed by a mountain lion. Zan carts the foal home in a wheelbarrow, and brings it up. The horse escapes and runs with wild horses, though he and Zan are eventually reunited. They learn to do tricks, and are offered a job in a circus. There Zan works on training Star to be a high school horse.
Black Horse of Culver
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1950, 186 pp, illus Bernard Garbutt
Bruce, a rebel, is sent to Culver Military Academy. He does not get on with his fellow students,but he does learn to ride, and forms a bond with the black horse Storm Cloud.
Fools Over Horses
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1952, 237 pp, illus Wesley Dennis
An adult book.
Sally Catlin can’t pay the mortgage on her horse farm, Foxhollow, but when Tom is sent there to sell it, he becomes interested in helping the farm pay its way, as well as in getting to know Sally better.