A brumby is an Australian wild horse, and this tale by Elyne Mitchell is the first of a series, which as far as I knew was of just four books, this, The Silver Brumby’s Daughter, Silver Brumbies of the South, and Silver Brumby Kingdom. Looking on the internet now, I see there are more – maybe I should read them!
The Silver Brumby of the title is Thowra, a cream-coloured wild horse in the Australian Snowy Mountains, whose coat turns silver in winter. The first book deals with his birth and growing up, all the way through to finding his first mate. There are challenges for supremacy between the reigning stallions on the territory, and in time Thowra throws down his own challenge. I loved the way the terrain is described, and what was then exotic wild plants and animals. A pair of wise kangaroos features, as do an opossum and various birds including kookaburras, sulphur-crested cockatoos and galahs. I vividly imagined all these creatures. Having a map at the start of the book helped me imagine the terrain too.
I first read these book when I was about fourteen, so I was surprised to see the date on the copies I have, which suggests I bought them when I was 21! My horse-obsession hasn’t waned much in the meantime, so I recommend these tales for horse-lovers of any age, although the book imprint itself is described as ‘for older boys and girls’.
Unlike my own stories, Elyne Mitchell places Thowra firmly in a natural setting, with realistic interactions between the herds and his search for his own mates. Horse whisperers and would-be horse whisperers will be happy with the treatment. The events that present them with life-threatening dangers are appropriate and normal extremes in the Australian climate. What I didn’t appreciate was that the terrain described is real. I was lucky enough to visit Thredbo on an Australian trip, and checking the map in the Youth Hostel, I found I was right on the edge of the Cascades, where Thowra was born. A hike the next day took me into the Cascades and to my delight, we found some brumbies – brown and black ones, but still brumbies!
I still love these stories, and I recommend them to horse lovers of any age, and indeed any younger children with advanced reading skills looking for an exciting wildlife adventure. I mentioned ‘forever books’ on a blog recently – these are ones that have been carried round all the places I’ve lived and stayed on my shelf rather than boxes in the attic. Precious stories indeed!
Interesting that Amazon shows the edition I have for Silver Brumby’s Daughter and of the South (and Whirlwind) but not the first in the series.