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Jane Badger Books
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Maggie Dana wrote the Best Friends series, which she is now re-issuing as the Timber Ridge Riders series. The books have been updated and revised, and are available in ebook format, and as paperbacks. They are well worth seeking out. Maggie Dana has written a well-observed series which goes beyond the usual teenage story to look at how the strains of growing up affect her characters.

 

She was born in England, and learned to ride at Pinewood Studios in Middlesex.  The stables had a whole menagerie besides horses, including a Jersey cow called Maud.  Maggie was asked to take Maud onto the set of a film, set in wartime, and starring David Niven and Glynis Johns - the film’s plot involved rescuing a valuable Jersey cow from the Channel Islands when they were occupied by the Nazis.  Maud ruined her moment in the sun, however, by peeing all over the sound stage’s concrete floor, to Maggie’s intense embarrassment.

 

When she grew up, she worked as a flight attendant, model, and worked at Pinewood Studios and for commercial television.  When she was in her early 20s she moved to the States, where she married and had three children.  After she was divorced, she had to support herself and the children and started writing, and started her writing career with a standalone horse book, The Golden Horse of Willow Farm.  

 

The Timber Ridge series is about Kate (Kerry, in the books’ original printing) and her adventures at Timber Ridge Stables, with her best friend Holly, and sworn enemy Angela (formerly Whitney). In the summaries, I’ve used the names the series currently uses.

 

Finding the books:  the original printings are reasonably easy to find secondhand. The newest printings are
available in various ebook formats, as well as in paperback, and all are in print.
 

Sources
Maggie Dana’s website  
My interview with Maggie Dana

Maggie Dana

Racing for the Stars/Riding for the Stars
Troll Communications, New Jersey, 1988, pb
Re-issued as
Riding for the Stars, 2012, pb and ebook format 
 

A review of the book

How far will Angela go this time? A movie is being filmed at Timber Ridge Stables.
Angela wants a part of course, but so does Kate. If Kate can get the part, she’ll finally
be able to buy a horse of her own.

No Time for Secrets/Keeping Secrets
Troll Communications, New Jersey, 1988, pb
Re-issued as
Keeping Secrets, Pageworks Press, 2011
Revised and updated

A review of the book

 

Kate gets a summer job as a companion to Holly, who has lost the use of her legs
and can no longer ride. Kate has a terrible guilty secret which is stopping her riding.
Holly can’t ride either, but Kate is going to have to face her fear if she wants to help
Holly’s mother, Liz, who runs the Timber Ridge Stables. Her position there is not
secure. Mrs Dean and her poisonous daughter Angela want Liz out.

Bibliography - pony books only

The Golden Horse of Willow Farm
Weekly Reader, 1981
 

The blurb:
“When a foal is born at the farm next door, ten year old Kate Williams spends every spare minute with her.
She learns to feed and care for the horse and watches her grow into a beautiful golden mare called Nutmeg.
Then the farmer and his family fall on hard times, and he is forced to sell Nutmeg. But before the new owner
arrives to pick her up, kate steals the mare and together they disappear into the forest.”

 

 

 

 

 

If Wishes were Horses/Wish Upon a Horse
Troll Communications, New Jersey, 1988, pb
Re-issued as
Wish Upon a Horse, 2012, pb and ebook format 
 

 

At last, it looks as if Kate will get a horse of her own, but the scruffy mare she rescues
from the auction isn’t what Kate dreamed of. However, Kate hopes that one day, the
mare will be a champion. The competition is fierce. Arch-rival Angela Dean is being
coached by one of the top riders in the world who’s as unscrupulous as she is. No
one’s sure whether Kate, or her mare, have what it takes.

 

 

 

Jumping into Trouble/Racing into Trouble
Troll Communications, New Jersey, 1988, pb
Re-issued as
Racing into Trouble, 2012, Pageworks Press 2012

A review of the book

 
Kate and Holly are still the best of friends, but when Angela Dean’s jealousy is roused
when it is Kate who is allowed to ride difficult new horse Buccaneer and hot her, Angela
sets out to make Kate’s life as difficult as she possibly can. Kate does not help herself,
and succeeds in alienating herself from Holly and Liz.

 

 

 

Timber Ridge/Best Friends

Keeping Secrets/No Time for Secrets
Racing into Trouble/Jumping into Trouble
Racing for the Stars/Riding for the Stars
If Wishes Were Horses/Wish Upon a Horse

Chasing Dreams

Almost Perfect

Taking Chances

After the Storm

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Chasing Dreams
pb and ebook format, 2013

A review of the book

 

Kate’s father, who’s been absent in the Brazilian jungle for the past four books studying butterflies, arrives home.
Kate has mixed feelings about this: it’s great to see her Dad again, but he wants to move to Wyoming, and
doesn’t see why Kate’s horse should come too. Potentially losing Tapestry isn’t Kate’s only problem: best friend
Holly’s boyfriend is trying to organise a surprise birthday party for her, and this means lots of secretive phone
calls to Kate: phone calls Holly can’t help noticing, and about which she gets the wrong idea. And then there’s
Kate’s sort-of boyfriend, film star Nathan. He’s away filming in New Zealand, and Kate’s never actually had a
proper date with him. Brad, on the other hand, is right here in Vermont. And he’s kind. And cute.

 

 

Almost Perfect
pb and ebook format, 2013

A review of the book

 

Kate and her father are now living in Vermont. Kate and Holly want to qualify for the Festival of Horses: it’s a huge
chance for them, as scouts from the United States Equestrian Team use the Festival as an opportunity to scout
out riders they want to work with. Of course they’re not the only ones: their friends at Timber Ridge want to ride
too, and so does Angela Dean, possibly almost as much as her mother wants her too. Between them, they ensure
Kate can’t ride. The Nathan/Brad situation is still there too: Brad carries on being a good thing, and Nathan, well,
he's just not there.

Taking Chances
pb and ebook format, 2013

A review of the book

Will Kate still be able to qualify for the Festival of Horses? There’s only one more show at which she can. Then
Kate has an accident, and it looks as if she won’t be fit enough. At least Angela Dean’s out of the way, though
Mrs Dean has bought Angela an even more spectacular, push-button horse. Will Kate recover enough to be
able to ride? And will she work the Brad/Nathan situation out?

 

 

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After the Storm
pb and ebook format, 2013

A review of the book

 

It#s winter in Vermont, and Kate and Holly are eagerly waiting to see if  Kate’s managed to qualify for the
Festival of Horses. There’s a storm outside the barn, and in the confusion during a power cut, a pony gets
given the wrong feed. Angela tells everyone Kate’s to blame, and they believe her. Things go from bad to
worse when Holly and Kate fall out: it gets so bad, Kate is going to move Tapestry to a new barn.

 

 

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