Magazine article The Spectator

Living with a Dark Horse

Magazine article The Spectator

Living with a Dark Horse

Article excerpt

THE HORSE LIFE by Simon Barnes Short Books, £12.99, pp. 206, ISBN 9781906021429 £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655

Dolly Dolores was a bigb o t t o m e d mare with a white star on her forehead who loved to jump. Simon Barnes experienced an instant connection with her on his first ride. He had never owned a horse before, but his wife persuaded him to buy her. He spent a royalty cheque on her. She was always a lively ride. At first Barnes just gave Dolores her head and let her do what she wanted. She was an ace jumper, never refused, never ran out -- one of those rare horses with a passion for jumping. Barnes competed in cross-country events (though he is modest about this) and he started winning prizes, but then Dolores began to behave in a weird manner. She stood up on her hind legs and refused to move. People advised him to have her shot. He did what any horse-lover would do and put her into foal.

At one level, this is Dolores's story. But of course Barnes is too good a writer to leave it at that. He sets up a riff between his own lifestory and the mare's tale.

Barnes came to riding as an adult and a townie. He started in his twenties on livery-stable hacks in Richmond Park, and he learned properly when he was living in Hong Kong. Country children may smile to hear that his biggest thrill is to go for a ride alone in the countryside, but he has a point when he says that grown-up novices are more likely to think things out for themselves, rather than blindly accept the cavalry/pony club rules. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.