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Thread: New book on women and horses

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default New book on women and horses

    Anyone else been reading If Wishes were Horses, A Memoir by Susanna Forrest? It was recommended recently by Melanie Reid in her Times column.

    Just curious to know what others think?

    NB Dont be put off, Pooh's Mate, by the female slant - there is some interesting history in it which is new to me either because she has rooted out snippets, or because the archeology is more recent than the history of horsemanship books I have valued most.

  2. #2

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    Hello - I'm new here, and delurking both because I liked this book and because I appreciate your posts, Skib, and wonder what you think of the book? Although it may not have been primarily aimed at me, as I am a male, I picked it up because I am interested in the subject of riding and gender, in our time and throughout history, a subject about which I have a growing list of references to both general and academic writing. This is a much better book than most. The author's investigations into riding and gender are smart and even-handed: she shows how men and women's relations with horses have changed radically over time, while at the same time leaving room for the notion that horses may reflect somethng important about gender, as they do about so many other aspects of being human. Her comments on how strongly gendered riding, particularly for the young, has become in her (and my) lifetime were spot-on: we've gone from the basically unisex riding clothes of the 1970s (weren't all clothes unisex then?) to acres of pink tack and apparel at Olympia. The other historical and journalistic passages were well-researched and well-told. I was interested to read about the opposition that pioneers like Pat Smythe faced in breaking into what was then, at least at the elite levels, an overwhelmingly male, military sport. It's not just women who have benefited from the broadening of access to riding of the second half of the twentieth century: something to keep in mind as the soaring cost of riding of the last twenty years or so, due to increasing insurance and other costs, has raised the barrier to entry once again.


    Tthe parts of the book that I liked the best were her descriptions of her returning to riding as an adult living in Berlin. As someone who has done most of my riding as an adult at schools in London, I can understand the slightly surreal sensation of trekking halfway across a huge city, one among others converging on a riding school tucked away in a suburb for an otherworldly weekly lesson, only then for the members to vanish back into the crowd after a precious hour or so, each of us back to our "real lives". It was gratifying to read that the sense of riding as "time out" from mundane reality is the same even for someone who, unlike me, had a fearlessly horsey childhood. She expresses very clearly the distance between one's childhood passions and the complexity and compromises of adulthood. The fragmented, episodic structure of the book mirrors the occasional horsiness of the urban rider. I'm not riding regularly at the moment, due to other priorities (those adult compromises!). I miss it a lot, and while I'm sure I'll be back in the saddle some day, reading books that eloquently expresses and critically examines the nature of riding as a passion, does rather keep one's horsiness up in the meantime.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for this Skib, i will order it from the library
    my new fiction blog -feel free to share/critique/laugh like a drain at

    http://rubiesandduels.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
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    I hadnt heard of it, I will take a look.
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  5. #5
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    I'll certainly take a look, particularly after reading what Calder had to say. I find that because I tend to buy horse related books from amazon they throw up a lot of recommendations, some of which are very dubious. This one has come up a few times and I've ignored it, but I'll probably get it on my Kindle now.

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