For a novel to be a classic, it needs to be timeless and continue to touch reader for multiple generations. Anna Sewell’s 1877 novel Black Beauty is definitely a classic. We might even go so far as to say it is an icon of horsey literature. And like many classic novels, it spawns many imitations and inspires others to create works that expand on the original by updating the setting or other facts.

A black woman wearing a cowboy hat on a horse.

Coleman Prokopchuk of ‘Beyond Black Beauty’. (photo courtesy Sinking Ship Entertainment)

Case in point is the 2020 reboot of Black Beauty, where the filmmaker changed the gelding to a mare, and an English hunter to a wild mustang in America. Now, two more projects owe their existence to Sewell’s novel.

The first is a television series that was filmed partially in Alberta and will air on the Family Channel on March 15. Beyond Black Beauty  follows Jolie Dumont (played by Calgary actress Coleman Prokopchuk), an equestrian with Olympic dreams whose journey is interrupted when her mother relocates the family from Belgium to Baltimore. Once in America, Jolie struggles to find her footing, but she connects with a spirited horse named ‒ you guessed it ‒ Black Beauty, who helps her embrace her family’s ranch where Black cowboys have been entrenched in its DNA for over a century. It’s a multi-generational story of adversity, humility, and love, with Jolie eventually discovering the value of family and home.

The second Black Beauty inspo is The Galway Connemara, a fictionalized autobiography of a grey Irish Connemara pony named Lir. Like in the classic novel, Lir tells the story of his life in his own words as he moves from one owner to the next as his adventures take him from the stone walls of Galway to the serene pastures of Kildare and beyond. Along the way, the pony meets a variety of people ‒ some who treat him with kindness and respect, and others who just see him as a tool to be used. Through his experiences in showjumping, eventing and dressage yards, Lir learns about human nature and the power of resilience.

Written by best-selling Irish author Elaine Heney, who is also a filmmaker who made the documentary Listening to the Horse, the book aims to educate readers as much as entertain them and offers up insights into horse training, care, and the significance of empathy and respect when training and riding horses and ponies. The Galway Connemara is now available at and on Amazon.