“The horse is a welcome mirror of human nature. If you are fearful, a horse will back off. If you are calm and confident, it will come forward.”
When you love books and you love animals, authors who write about animals occupy a special place on your bookshelves. The purpose of this weekly feature on writers is to bring attention to all kinds of published works – well known authors I have read and loved over the years, newbies I have tried out and liked, and also those who do not depend on writing as a profession but have churned out books aside of their primary jobs. Clare Balding is one such author whose works I came across at a second-hand bookstore. Her books are absolute must reads if you love animals and reading about them.
Clare Balding is a broadcaster, journalist and author. Born on 29th January 1971, Balding was educated in Downe House in Berkshire, and was a contemporary of comedienne Miranda Hart. From 1988 to 1993, Balding was a leading amateur flat jockey, and declared a champion lady rider in 1990. Her father, brother, maternal uncle and grandfather have all been trainers with award winning race horses. Balding has a well documented aristocratic lineage on her mother’s side. Along with horse racing, Clare also plays golf and encourages all kinds of sports.
“Women’s sport helps break down a lot of barriers for women in other areas.”
As a broadcaster with the sporting community, she currently presents for BBC Sport, Channel 4, and BT Sport. She hosts her own sports chat show called “The Clare Balding Show” , guests on which have included Lewis Hamilton, Tom Daley, Mike Tyson, Martina Navratilova, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judy Murray, and Frankie Dettori. In her capacity as a journalist, Clare has written columns in the past for The Sporting Life, Racing Post, Sunday Telegraph, The Evening Standard, and currently writes a weekly sports column for Waitrose Weekend. Balding was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2013 for her services to broadcasting and journalism. She was also presented with the BAFTA for her work on the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
“People with a passion are interesting – whether it is old cars or taxidermy or knitting.”
Her love for, and life around, sports and animals was documented in her autobiography “My Animals and Other Family” , one of the books I’m currently reading. Published by Viking Press in 2012, the memoir presents her life born and brought up around the non-human community of horses, ponies and dogs, and won the National Book Awards “Autobiography of the Year” in 2012. The book which starts off with Clare declaring, “I spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and suspected I aged in dog years” , has been translated into Italian, Mandarin and Hungarian, and has reached the number one position on several national bestseller lists. Her second book “Walking Home” was published in 2014, and is an account of Clare’s mission to discover Britain and Ireland by foot.
“I didn’t just grow up with horses; I wanted to be one.”
In June 2017, Clare came out with “The Racehorse Who Wouldn’t Gallop” , an illustrated book about a ten year old with a racehorse who doesn’t gallop in spite of being strong, fit and healthy, and having what it takes to be a champion. In May 2018, the follow-up to her debut children’s book was published – “The Racehorse Who Disappeared” – set on a farmyard where a prizewinning thoroughbred is kidnapped. Her latest title “The Racehorse Who Learned To Dance” is scheduled for release in October 2018, and continues where the second book left off.
Clare’s writing is eloquent, humorous, thought provoking and very enjoyable for a reader. There is a poignancy of feeling like an outsider among humans, and finding more important connections with animals. If you love animals and have lived with them, her books are highly recommended.
~Books by Clare Balding