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Showing posts from March, 2012

Morning walk

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I'm sorry for the almost total failure on the morning walks front. We were looking after my sister in law's dog for six months, and as she's not totally reliable at recall, had to be on the lead during walks, and I wimpishly didn't take the camera as well as two dogs, leads, pooh bags etc. Anyway, small dog has now returned to her Cornish fastness, and the labrador and I have reverted to our usual routine.










It's unseasonably warm here in the UK: June weather, with the trees still bare. I'm walking at just gone dawn, and the half light makes even the industrial sheds on the skyline look romantic. It'll be interesting to see, now that our planning laws have a presumption towards saying yes to development provided it's sustainable (and I can foresee much dancing on the head of a pin concerning the definition of that one) how many more sheds and housing estates we acquire.  It's almost certain the view below won't be around for long. Developers have …

New books out March-April

There's a decent amount of books out in the next few weeks, but first, some books I missed:
Anne C Hambleton: Raja, Story of a Racehorse The author is an ex steeplechase jockey who now events, so the detail in this should be authentic!
It’s about what happens to a racehorse after his track career: not something traditionally dealt with
in horse stories, which tend to finish with the glory of the finishing line. The book is $12.00 - not as far
as I can see available in the UK, but it will be soon.

Alex Brown: Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro & His Legacy Actually out last year, this is the story of a horse who won the Kentucky Derby by the largest margin
for sixty years; was destined for glory it was thought, but broke down in the Preakness, and eventually
fell victim to laminitis. Glen View Media, £19.15, Kindle, £5.83.

Kirsten Radtke & Bernd Radtke: The World of the Tahawy Bedouin and
Their Pure-bred Arabian Horses Out on 31 March, published by Medina at £35.00 is a history of t…

Review: Susanna Forrest: If Wishes Were Horses

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Susanna Forrest: If Wishes Were Horses
Atlantic, hb £16.99, pb £12.99, Kindle £8.78

Susanna Forrest's website




It doesn't normally take me too long to write reviews, as I am usually pretty certain before too long about what I want to say. What stymied me with this book was having to read it again almost immediately after I'd finished it, as I liked it so much.  Susanna Forrest has the gift of writing about horses with passion and insight, whilst avoiding the sentimental. No rainbow bridges here. No parades of pretty horses either, and certainly none of that discomfort you get when peering at someone's private obsession, because although billed as a "memoir of equine obsession," Susanna Forrest's experiences are those of most of us who love horses. She does not concentrate only on her own experiences, but on aspects of the horseworld that might explain that obsession.



There is the genesis of riding ("the first little girl who loved a pony ate it"); …

The One Dollar Horse revisited

WARNING: Contains spoilers!

It's been a very long while since I read a book which left me so disquieted, so much so that I've been thinking about it all weekend, and wondering why on earth the book for me didn't quite gel.  I think light has finally dawned.  It's the fairy godmother character, Mrs Smith, who bothers me; or to pin it down a bit, her position as fairy godmother and enabler of the heroine's dreams.

I find the beginning and the end of the book credible; the gritty reality of East London at the beginning and the heroine's struggle to even ride, let alone have a horse, and odd though it might seem, the Badminton triumph at the end. Some people just are that good.  And it is possible for people who come from nothing to succeed in a world notorious for needing wads of cash to do so.

Mrs Smith is someone the heroine already knows; she goes to tea with her regularly. Mrs Smith had a horsy background herself, but lost her money through a disastrous marria…

Lauren St John: The One Dollar Horse

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Lauren St John:  The One Dollar Horse
Orion, hb: £9.99, pb £6.99

Lauren St John's website

Thank you to Orion for sending me this book


It's a rare pony book that deals with equine life in London, let alone inner city London, in the shape of Hackney. Horses in London are unusual: they need space, and space in London is expensive and tends to be given over to humans. 15 year old Casey Blue, the heroine of this novel, lives on the eighth floor of a tower block in Hackney. She cannot afford riding lessons; she and her father live hand-to-mouth now that he has emerged from prison, and is unable to get a job. Hope Lane Stables, at which Casey volunteers, is "a last ditch stand against the city's concrete advance."


Casey has a seemingly unachievable aim: she wants to ride at Badminton. The moment that becomes apparent, you are aware that the novel is almost certainly going to have to move outside London, and away from the gritty, scrabbling round for scraps reality that is …

Review: Elaine Walker - The Horses

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Elaine Walker: The Horses
Cinnamon Press
10.03.2012: Update on availability: available via the author's website, £9.00, including p&p. Mention this site when ordering and get a £1.00 discount.


I've had this book for a while, so many apologies to the author, who must have been wondering if I would ever get round to reading it. Initially, I admit, I was put off by the blurb, which says the book "uses magical realism to stunning effect; the disruption of the boundaries of the physical and the psychological and a constant sense of strangeness add to a  powerful story that is as compelling as it is important."

What I thought I was going to get was something that was consciously difficult; which paraded its shifts of focus in that sort of authorial display of cleverness that makes you wonder just whose clothes, or lack of them, are being paraded.




What I actually got was one of the most absorbing books I have read in a long while. It's set in a post-Apocalyptic Scotla…