Thursday, 21 March 2013

I've really enjoyed My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding

Everyone complains that we see too much of Clare Balding. She seems to crop up everywhere on the TV and radio, and in the newspapers, and I'm very jealous because she always appears very calm and knowledgeable with literally not a hair out of place!
So I was eager to read her new autobiography, My Animals and Other Family, to find out what her made so unflappable.
The book is organised with chapters about each dog or horse that meant a lot to her as she grew up. She had a golden childhood with boxers and lurchers to play with and ponies and horses to ride because her father was Ian Balding, famous trainer of Mill Reef which won the 1971 Derby. She tells the tales of the antics that she and her brother, Andrew, got up to. For example painting the inside of the Puppy Shed including the puppies and themselves bright turquoise, or styling the mane and tail of her pony, Volcano, so he looked like Ziggy Stardust. Needless to say, her mother was not pleased.
I hadn't realised that Clare had had a career as an amateur jockey. The best bit is the race where she nearly unseats the Princess Royal, and the inevitable confrontation in the changing room afterwards!  At the age of twenty, she won the Ladies' Championship on a horse called Respectable Jones. In fact I was a little sad that her story stopped at this point, because I would have loved to keep on reading but, with university and a job at the BBC, she couldn't have had the time or opportunity to ride so much.
I think her calm nature comes from learning to bring the best out of her horses and dogs which loved her and as for her hair, I have no idea, only that she kept having it cut shorter to help her save ounces so she'd be light enough to race!
It's a fabulous book, and I hope that you will enjoy it too.


  1. Very interesting review, Jean! I've given you a Reality Award over on my blog.

  2. This sounds like such an interesting book Jean, thanks for posting about it.