The H&H team have reviewed a selection of the best horse books for Christmas gifting – all published this year – to help you find the perfect fireside read or present this Christmas…
The Journey: From the Killing Fields of Darfur to Royal Ascot
By Abdul Musa Adam
Abdul’s story is one that will stay with the reader for a long time. He tells of his childhood in Darfur, western Sudan, and how this was shattered when paramilitary forces destroyed his home and killed his family. After years in a refugee camp in Chad with his younger brother, Abdul left alone for Libya, where he hoped to find work. He made his way to England, clinging to the underside of a lorry. He now works for top trainer Andrew Balding at Park House Stables, where horses are helping him to heal – but his one desire is to find his brother again.
True Colours: My Autobiography
By Barry Geraghty
Barry Geraghty only retired from the sport in July, but the great jump jockey has penned a thoroughly engaging memoir of his life in the saddle. It’s a joy to relive his partnership with Moscow Flyer and when Monty’s Pass won the Grand National, contrasting starkly with the bitter lows he’s endured such as when the winners dried up and the heartbreaking loss of hurdler Macs Joy. But it’s the matter-of-fact way he deals with the bone-crunching falls that serve as a blunt reminder of these sportsmen’s resilience. I can’t recommend this insightful autobiography enough.
The Return Journey: An Expedition of Loss and Love
By Steve Bull
This poignant story follows the author on a journey in which he learns all about the highs of love and the deep lows of loss. When a freak and tragic accident with a horse takes his wife, Kathryn, Steve has to learn to carry on without her and finds that the very thing that took her is what will save him. It’s truly a heart-warming yet deeply painful tale that will provoke thoughts of love, despair and hope. It doesn’t tell you how you should grieve, love or live, but you can’t read this book and fail to take something from it.
Life In a Time Of Plague: A Coronavirus Lockdown Diary
By Julian Roup
Journalist Julian Roup tells the story of his corner of rural Britain under the first 75 days of lockdown. His beautiful writing captures the way the world slowed down amid the strangeness of the new reality. The book is a snapshot of the details that make up the fabric of history – thinking back on memories of friends passed, observations on humanity and the natural world in his East Sussex valley, and of course his lovely horse Callum. Riders will appreciate how horses – in both reality and in our imagination – serve as an escape.
By Simon Curtis
A photographic journey recording over 60 farriers at work across 21 countries and six continents. From stunning pictures of a Moroccan remedial donkey farrier to a Finnish army reservist, from the estancias in Argentina to Icelandic volcanoes, we meet apprentices, experts and even a farriery museum curator. This book shouldn’t be kept a secret for farriery specialists; it’s a glorious celebration of travel and horses It’s a limited edition of 1,000 copies, with each book numbered and signed by the author, Suffolk farrier Simon Curtis.
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Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love with an Animal
By Sarah Maslin Nir
A brilliant read for anyone captivated by horses. The writer takes us to all corners of the horse world, from a stable yard with lifts in Manhattan to Monty Roberts’ ranch. We meet curly-eared Marwaris and swimming feral ponies once shipwrecked on an island. It’s surprising and emotional in equal turns, both heartfelt and humorous. And while the New York author’s first experience of hunting is perhaps out of kilter with the H&H readership, her skill in weaving reporting and memoir around her beloved subject is remarkable.
In Praise of Famous Horses: An A-Z of the most celebrated in history and culture, myth and sport
By Sean Magee
From Clever Hans, a horse who could read and count, to My Little Pony – whose retail sales in recent years have often exceeded $1bn (approximately £770m) annually… These and other fascinating facts feature in this accumulation of information about the horse’s role in human culture and society over 2,000 years. Educational, entertaining and enlightening, this A-Z is the perfect stocking filler for horse lovers and general browsers.
Penelope’s Route: An Andalusian Horseback Journey
By Karen Considine
Five decades after her mother was given Penelope Chetwode’s Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia, Karen Considine retraced that intrepid lady’s horseback travels in rural Spain. This engaging memoir is her account of that adventure. With Bruma and Luqa as her equine companions, Karen experiences the delights of the region. Combining such joys with human encounters and observations about how Andalusia has – and hasn’t – changed in 50 years, this book offers wonderful armchair travel while the real variety is off limits.
Heroic Animals: 100 Amazing Creatures Great And Small
By Clare Balding
Each chapter is dedicated to a different heroic individual, from the pigeons who delivered military messages in the nick of time, to the guide dogs who helped their blind owners leave the World Trade Center. On the equestrian side, there are old favourites such as Sefton, Valegro and Red Rum, but also lesser known stars such as American war horse Reckless, an ex-racehorse who hauled a gun and ammunition to the front lines and carried the wounded to safety. A great book for dipping in and out of.
Solving Equine Behaviour Problems: An Equitation Science Approach
By Rose M Scofield
Rose Scofield introduces this guide to better understanding the horse-human relationship by stating “there is much still to discover and indeed perhaps discard concerning the methods we use to communicate, and therefore train our horses”. With that in mind, this book delves into the world of equitation science touching on topics including stable vs turnout, bedding and feed, and positive vs negative reinforcement. With examples backed up by research, this is an interesting read for horse owners and equine science students.
Stride Control: Exercises to Improve Rideability, Adjustability and Performance
By Jen Marsden Hamilton
This book by renowned Canadian equestrian coach Jen Marsden Hamilton outlines a systematic training programme for riders looking to improve their jumping. It contains flatwork exercises to improve rideability, gridwork to develop the horse’s jump, and exercises to hone the skills required when jumping a course. It tackles common problems and how to read the challenges set by the course-builder while walking a course so you can produce your best performance.
Horses for Life: Dream Big – Aim High – One Life to Live
By Pammy Hutton and Islay Auty
This book covers everything from a brief history of equine evolution to interviews with medal-winning riders and advice on the management of horses. It includes opinions on the role of the horse in the modern world, how to enjoy or be involved with horses if you do not ride, and advice on dealing with the pressure of ownership. With a foreword by Olympic showjumping champion Nick Skelton, a preface by the Princess Royal and both authors’ own experiences, this is sure to be a favourite with riders in all disciplines.
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