Glenn Balch

Popular American author of children's horse and dog stories. He was born in Texas in 1902. As a child he loved both books and animals. He also loved the outdoor life and had ambitions to become a cowboy, but although he did work on a number of ranches whilst on holiday from college, and also spent a summer as a forest ranger, he eventually became a reporter. At the same time he began writing short articles for outdoor magazines and he soon realised that he wanted to become a full-time writer.

After a slightly shaky start, Balch's writing career began to flourish. His most popular books featured his enduring love for animals and the outdoors. Dogs and horses appeared in most of his works, the horse stories mainly geared to boys and of the ranching/adventure/wild horse type, although unlike most writers of these genres, he also writes about the Indians as well as the cowboys. One of his horse stories - Indian Paint - was made into a film. He has also written two non-fiction equine books.

Tack Ranch Series:
Ranching/wild horse type series about Ben and Dixie and the horses in their life, including the wild black stallion King.

1) WILD HORSE
aka THE STALLION KING (Shortened version)
(CROWELL [USA] 1947)
(1st UK edition HUTCHINSON 1954)
ILLUSTRATED BY PERS CROWELL
STALLION KING ILLUSTRATED BY GRACE PAULL
The book was shortened and reprinted under the title of THE STALLION KING by Crowell in 1960 with new illustrations by Grace Paull
SUMMARY: Ben and Dixie attempt to save the wild horse King from capture by the unscrupulous Tom Sample, with the help of Gaucho, a new wrangler.

2) CHRISTMAS HORSE
(SCHOLASTIC [USA] 1949)
ILLUSTRATED BY PERS CROWELL
Reprinted in paperback by Tab and Scholastic.
SUMMARY: Ben is given the black colt Inky for a Christmas present, the son of the wild horse King. But can he prove to his father that the colt can be a good cow pony, despite his sire?

3) LOST HORSE
(CROWELL [USA] 1950)
ILLUSTRATED BY PERS CROWELL
Reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap as part of their Famous Horse Stories series.
SUMMARY: Is King the horse Andy Blair lost 8 years ago?

4) WINTER HORSE
(CROWELL [USA] 1951)
SUMMARY: Ben, Dixie and Gaucho set off to save the wild horses from a harsh winter.

5) THE MIDNIGHT COLT
(CROWELL [USA] 1952)
ILLUSTRATED BY PERS CROWELL
Reprinted in paperback by Harper Collins.
Reprinted by Avon Books in 2004 - this edition still in print
SUMMARY: Ben borrows some money to buy a racehorse named Peck O'Trouble, whom he hopes to re-train and sell on. However the horse certainly lives up to his name, and it is not going to be easy, especially as Ben has only one summer to do it in!

6) WILD HORSE TAMER
(CROWELL [USA] 1955)
(1st UK edition HUTCHINSON 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY E. B. QUIGLEY
PAPERBACK ILLUSTRATED BY SAM SAVITT
Reprinted in paperback by Tab/Scholastic with illustrations by Sam Savitt
SUMMARY: King has been stolen! Can Ben and Dixie find him?


7) HORSE IN DANGER
(CROWELL [USA] 1960)
ILLUSTRATED BY LEE AMES
SUMMARY: Is King responsible for stealing the missing mares, or is there another explanation?

8) STALLION'S FOE
(CROWELL [USA] 1963)
ILLUSTRATED BY LORENCE BJORKLUND
SUMMARY: King has been defeated by a rival stallion.


Collector's Info:
As to be expected these are generally easiest to find in the USA. They do vary in rarity, with some very easy to find and other such as Lost Horse and Winter Horse, much harder. The Midnight Colt is still in print in America and can be bought new. Two of the books, Wild Horse and Wild Horse Tamer, were published in the UK and these two are usually the only ones of the series which can be found here.

Mots-Kay & Pan-Sook Series:
Short historical series about a pair of Native American Indian boys.

1) SPOTTED HORSE
(CROWELL [USA] 1961)
ILLUSTRATED BY LORENCE BJORKLUND
SUMMARY: The two Indian boys Mots-Kay and Pan-Sook are captured by a rival tribe and sold to the Spanish as slaves.

2) HORSE OF TWO COLORS
(CROWELL [USA] 1969)
ILLUSTRATED BY LORENCE BJORKLUND
Also a Book Club edition.
SUMMARY: The boys escape their captives with the help of two horses.


Collector's Info:
Rarely seen outside the USA. Horse of Two Colours is the easiest to find of the two, though neither are particularly rare in America.

Other Pony Books:

TIGER ROAN
(CROWELL [USA] 1938)
ILLUSTRATED BY LEE TOWNSEND
(1st UK edition HUTCHINSON 1945)
SUMMARY: The author's favourite book! Hugh rehabilitates an escaped rodeo horse who has been turned into a man-hater by cruel riders.

INDIAN PAINT
(GROSSET & DUNLAP [USA] 1942)
ILLUSTRATED BY NILS HOGNER
(1st UK edition HUTCHINSON 1944)
Reprinted in paperback by Comet and Tab
It was also reprinted by Grosset as part of the Famous Horse Stories series.
British edition published by Hutchinson in 1944.
Made into a film in 1965.

SUMMARY: Indian boy Little Falcon loves his paint pony Shadow, whom he has trained himself from the wild. But after an encounter with a mountain lion, Shadow runs off to join the wild herd once more. Can Little Falcon find his beloved horse once more?

INDIAN SADDLE-UP
(CROWELL [USA] 1953)
ILLUSTRATED BY ROBERT FRANKENBURG
(1st UK edition HUTCHINSON 1955)
British edition published by Hutchinson in 1955.

SUMMARY: In the days before horses became synonymous with cowboys and indians, two Native American Indians set out to search for that mythical beast - the horse - which has been brought to their lands by the Spanish.


LITTLE HAWK AND THE FREE HORSE
(CROWELL [USA] 1957)
ILLUSTRATED BY EZRA JACK KEATS
SUMMARY: Little Hawk sets out to capture some horses so he can use them to help rescue his captive father.

THE BRAVE RIDERS
(CROWELL [USA] 1959)
ILLUSTRATED BY EZRA JACK KEATS
SUMMARY: Little Elk is reluctant to join the dangerous rite-of-passage ride with the other young men of the Pawnee tribe.

THE RUNAWAYS
(DOUBLEDAY [USA] 1963)
SUMMARY: Set around the time of the second world war. Jan, a young Latvian refugee from a concentration camp, and his family have taken refuge on a ranch in Idaho, helping the rancher by doing farm work. When Jan accidentally breaks the law, memories of being incarcerated in the war terrify him and he runs away from justice to hide in the hills. But instead of escaping he becomes friendly with a herd of wild horses, feeling an affinity for their hunted status, and decidies to stay and protect the foals from a wild cougar that is killing them.
PONYMAD VIEW: This was firmly aimed at the boy's market and its focus on guns and killing will not endear it to some readers. Unfortunately the boy's hunt for the cougar takes up much of the story which could have been used to include more horse content. It also seems a bit hypocritical that the boy is so angry with the cougar for killing the foals when he is doing the same thing in killing rabbits and other wildlife to feed himself. On the plus side, the book is well-written and the emotions of the central character, especially his fear of being hunted, and the envy he feels at the carefree easy life of his American contemporary Eddiie, are well portrayed. We soon realise that his anger at the cougar's hunting of the horses is a transference of the anger he feels about his family being hunted, first by invading soldiers and now by the game wardens. He can't get rid of his own pursuers but he can try and kill the cougar. You empathise with Jan and what he has been through and do want to keep reading to find out what happens to him.  You also feel that his experiences have given him an insight into what the life of the wild horses - constantly hunted - is really like.
In summary certainly not a traditional pony story, it is deeply entrenched in the hard-hitting world of the ranch life with no room for squeamishness and will not be to everyone's taste, but nevertheless a thoughtful portrayal of a boy trying to cope with his traumas and finding an unexpected affinity with the wild horses he encounters.
PONYMAD RATING 2-3 HORSESHOES.


KEEPING HORSE
(CROWELL [USA] 1966)
ILLUSTRATED BY JOSEPH CELLINI
SUMMARY: Brad's cousin comes to stay and causes trouble when she wants to ride a difficult horse.

THE FLAXY MARE
aka THE WILD MARE
(CROWELL [USA] 1967)
ILLUSTRATED BY LORENCE BJORKLUND
Reprinted by Avon Books in 2004 as THE WILD MARE
SUMMARY: Flax the wild mare is separated from her herd, but helped by the kind young cowboy Jim Thorne. But after he leaves she spends her time trying to avoid capture. Will she ever know peace again?


BUCK WILD
(CROWELL [USA] 1976)
ILLUSTRATED BY RUTH SANDERSON
SUMMARY: The story of a wild horse hunted by humans who are increasingly resourceful in their efforts to trap their prey.


Collector's Info:
Some of these - Tiger Roan, Indian Paint and Indian Saddle-up - were published as UK editions and these are the easiest to find here. All of them are generally fairly easy to find in the USA.