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Eric Hatch

Year of the Horse

Crown Publishers, New York, 1965, jacket by Doug Anderson. 216 pp.

Dell, pb, 1968


“... a warm, wacky, wonderful story about a father’s attempts to win the love and
respect of his teenage daughter who has eyes only for a horse. Freddie Bolton
is a charming, harassed suburban ad executive playing – and losing – Madison
Avenue’s favourite sport of living beyond his income. Nothing is too good for his
daughter, but when Hellie asks for a horse of her won, he has an adman’s
brainstorm. He cooks up a deal to name the horse after a product he just
happens to represent, and Freddie, who knows nothing about horses- he’s allergic to them; they make him sneeze! – finds himself anchor man in an insane triangle with a prize thoroughbred.


Freddie finds himself falling for the big, beer-swilling animal, who has turned out to be the hottest show horse ever to point his nose toward Madison Square Garden. The scene where Freddie, finding himself out of cigarettes, hops aboard the championship hunter for a quick trip to the supermarket – and gets arrested for stealing his own horse! – is one of the most sidesplitting in all humorous writing.”

Eric Hatch (1901 - 1973) lived in Connecticut, and was an immensely productive, and busy, man. He owned a radio station (WBIS in Bristol), wrote screenplays and plays, fiction, non fiction and magazine articles. He was also a member of the State Historical Commission, an expert horseman, director of the Connecticut Horse Shows Association, a judge and steward of the American Horse Shows Assocation..... I’m amazed he had time to write.


The Year of the Horse is one of those books that seems to appeal to everyone; it was originally written as a humorous novel for adults, but has been marketed to both adults and children. Disney based their movie The Man in the Gray Flannel suit on the book, though to not a great deal of critical acclaim. The New York Times said it was “too bland to interest anyone who has survived beyond the age of seven.”


Finding the book: not available at all in the UK, as far as I can see. It’s certainly obtainable in the US, but even in its paperback incarnation, it’s more expensive than average. Don’t be put off by the cover of the paperback: the text is exactly the same.


Links and sources

New York Times’ review of the film

A review of the book with an extract (don’t worry, it’s considerably better than the film)

Bibliography - horse books only

What Goes on in Horse's Heads

Putnam, New York, 1970, illus Al Savitt, 123 pp.


The blurb:

“Take it straight from the horse's mouth that there are some curious and fascinating things
going on inside the horse's head. The spokesman here for the noble beast is Eric Hatch,
horseman, show judge, novelist, raconteur, who shows what amazing communication can
be established between horse and rider. By means of numerous true tales about wise and
foolish men and horses, Hatch reveals there can be a direct and patient line from the rider's
loving heart to his horse's sometimes crazy head - and vice versa. The result is happy,
 informative reading even for the rider whose only saddle is an arm chair.”