Hoof Beats and Horse Tales
Regina Kear Reid, Author
Horse-crazy seventeen-year-old Alexandra Goodwin’s secret ambition is to become an international show jumper. In order to pursue her dream career with horses, she makes a deal with her parents.
If they allow her to delay college for one year and to sign on as a working pupil at Heels Down Hall, a renowned English riding school, Alexa promises to obtain the British Horse Society Assistant Instructor certificate, a globally recognized teaching credential.
During the turbulent summer of 1967, Alexandra leaves the genteel Old South and is transplanted deep into the heart of England. She suddenly finds herself living in Dickensian conditions, in a strange and unfamiliar, sometimes humorous, and definitely non-Disney world.
While Alexandra learns how to train horses and teach riding, she experiences the thrill of cross-country jumping, and competes in horse trials; but can she pass the Exam and keep her promise to her parents?
Heels Down Hall
Heels Down Hall is a fictional account based on real-life experiences and makes for fascinating reading. Set from 1967, the work records one year in the life of a seventeen-year-old American girl “Alexa” who goes to an English residential riding school as a working pupil with the dream of becoming one day “an international show-jumper”.
On arrival at a rambling Leicestershire mansion, Alexa little imagined the cultural shock that awaited her. In many ways, Heels Down Hall was still time-warped in the 1860s. The interactions of Alexa with the characters she meets at the Hall and various horse shows and competitions take the reader into a different world from today's as does the odd romantic encounter!
The style is refreshingly easy to read even for non-horsey people despite technical phrases such as “leading file” and “leg yields”. Heels Down Hall is a unique insight into a nearly forgotten time and well worth the read. I enjoyed it.
– Charles de Beaulieu
Set in 1960s England, this lighthearted coming-of-age story will inspire you to follow your own equestrian dreams.
- Robert "Bob" E. Cacchione, Founder, Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association
Heels Down Hall: Adventures of a Working Pupil, by Regina Kear Reid, is engaging from beginning to end. The author takes the reader along for the main character’s literal and metaphorical journey as she leaves her home in the United States for a year in England. The storyline offers a glimpse into the day-to-day activities of an English riding academy from the perspective of a young American newcomer.
We follow along as Alexa navigates a different culture and lifestyle, experiencing both the joys and frustrations of adjusting and fitting in while pursuing her equestrian passion. The book has a lovely pastoral feel. The setting is a riding academy in a small village, with detailed descriptions of the school and the surrounding areas.
Taking place during the late 1960s, readers are reminded of a time before the pervasiveness of social media, a time of face-to-face conversations and hand-written letters to those far away. Somewhat cloistered, the rigorous schedules of the working pupils leave little time for the distractions of the outside world. With television access limited to Sunday evening viewing and occasional trips into town, students have time to focus on their instruction as well as the relationships formed within the establishment.
The individuals in the story experience highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments. The characters’ many adventures are recounted in vivid detail and with a good dose of humor. All in all, the book is the ARC was a very entertaining read.
– Julia Peterson, Independent Film Producer
Heels Down Hall is the perfect read for horse-crazy girls and their mothers! An inspiring account of the day-to-day hard work and joys of the equestrian working student. If you are looking for the perfect gift for the horse lover, look no further than Heels Down Hall!
- Linda Kerstetter
At first, Heels Down Hall seems to be the tale of a young girl on a grand adventure. It is so much more; it is the story of an American girl pursuing her dream to be a professional in the horse world. The story takes you through the struggles of Alexa to become a horsewoman in a foreign land, in a time when the world was in chaos. The tale of a girl changing to a lady through sweat, determination, and true grit. I recommend it as both just a fun read, and as a guide for anyone thinking of entering into the professional world of horses. You will laugh and cheer throughout.
- Mikki Schattilly
Heels Down Hall is a must read for fans of All Creatures Great and Small. You end of in a slice of England that appeals to equestrians and non-riders alike!
- Ron Friedson, Saddle designer and avid reader
Regina Kear Reid has traveled the world pursuing a career as a professional equestrienne, freelance journalist, published poet, and artist.
Her formal training includes a B.A. and M.A. from East Carolina University and years of intensive training at British Horse Society Riding Schools in various locations in the UK.
Her love of horses has taken her around the world and across the United States. She lived in Ethiopia and England and has visited over 40 countries.
Regina’s travels have influenced her teaching, writing, and artwork. Her published articles and poems have appeared in national and regional magazines. Her artwork has appeared in juried shows, galleries, and Art in Public Places.
During her equestrian career, Regina directed the Pace University (NY) Equine Studies programs for 15 years. She competed in major horse shows in hunters, jumpers, and ladies hunters sidesaddle. She coached regional and national champions in the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) in hunt seat and stock seat equitation.
Trained by Olympic Coaches and Riders, Regina successfully in one-day events, trained young horses, played and coached arena polo, hunted, and worked with Pony Clubs in the US and UK.
After years at Pace, Regina married and co-owned a working farm where they boarded horses, raised ponies, and a tack shop.
Heels Down Hall, her first novel, is based on a true story and is a tribute to her early training.
Getting of to an early start!
1967 - ready to go
“My” horse, Fancy, 1966
The Riding Display, Heather Hall, 1968
Starquest Tudor eventing in Alabama circa 1975
(Middle) Riding aside 1968, Heather Hall, England
Kingfisher and me, Heather Hall. my training project
Elementary school children participating in ECU Master’s thesis program 1977
Me. Pace U. ( never PU, ha ) practicing arena polo