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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?