Henrietta Knight’s latest book, The Jumping Game, is not simply a book on ‘how to train a racehorse’, but offers an insight into all aspects of horsemanship that stretches beyond racing.
Henrietta, trainer of three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate, takes the reader on a fascinating tour around the yards and training practices of some of the biggest names in the world of National Hunt racing.
Having read her last book Not Enough Time, a moving autobiographical account about her life with Terry Biddlecombe (definitely one to add to your reading list), I was keen to grab first dibs on The Jumping Game.
Henrietta’s writing style is wonderfully informative without being dry — detailed descriptions are peppered with anecdotes and she brings trainers, staff, yards and horses to life.
And yes, while it probably helps that I am a racing fan, I found the differences in training and the way horses are kept fascinating, with ways of thinking that could be applied across the full remit of equestrian sport.
The pages are full of tips, tricks, ways of doing things, ways of adapting to suit quirky horses and advice from some of Britain and Ireland’s most experienced horsemen and women.
It also takes in the more general changes in horse management over the years, plus offers insight into who embraces new technology, who doesn’t, and even follows the impact busy roads have had on racehorses’ training regimes.
From how Donald McCain picks out horses at the sales, to how the layout of the London 2012 Olympic arenas influenced Dan Skelton’s gallops, the book is full of interesting snippets.
Henrietta sums this up perfectly in her introduction: “It is never too late to learn, and with horses no two days are the same. The person who says that he knows it all is fooling himself. He will never be a champion.”
This is a book I’m sure I will be dipping back into again and again.
The Jumping Game: How National Hunt Trainers Work and What Makes Them Tick
by Henrietta Knight is published by Head of Zeus and goes on sale in hardback on 8 March 2018 for £20.
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