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Review of The Bridleway by Jane Imbush
I’ve never written a book review before, but as a keen equestrian I was asked if I would like to read The Bridleway and give my observations and I have really enjoyed it. I wasn’t disappointed by this book at all. It is beautifully written, and Tiffany Francis-Baker has a gift for drawing the reader in to each of her chapters which cover the cultural, environmental and social history of the horse. I have learned many new facts as I have read this book. I never knew where the expression peeping Tom came from until now and the analysis into traveller life, the Dartmoor ponies and the narrative of landscape and experience is very well observed.
Each chapter is completely different from the one before. This could make the book disjointed but as each covers a different topic, from racing to the war horse, from how the horse has influenced our landscape, language and agricultural development, this is an easy book to read leaving the reader to pick and choose which chapter to read next. The words paint in some cases very vivid pictures, and I could belief I was on Dartmoor or at the Downland Museum when reading those chapters. I also see so many parallels with my own experience of horses.
The horse is celebrated and revered (and in my opinion and rightly so) in this book. It isn’t just for the equestrian and the writer is clearly knowledgeable. With the historical analysis of the horse coupled with the commentary and more personal anecdotal style in some of the chapters, there really is something for everyone in this book. I doubt any keen horseman wouldn’t enjoy this book.
Well observed, well-crafted and a celebration of the horse, this is a book that provides the reader with an opportunity to engage in the history, the culture and the power of horses. We owe so much to their domestication and this book seeks to, and succeeds in sharing Tiffany’s unquestionable passion for horses through history and beyond.
The Bridleway – How Horses Shaped the British Landscape by Tiffany Francis-Baker
Published 08 Jun 2023 as an Ebook (PDF) by Bloomsbury Publishing (Bloomsbury Wildlife imprint).
272 pages. ISBN 9781399403191