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Description - Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

This work examines the fascination and romance that is evident in every horse and pony club in the western hemisphere. Holbrook writes about her obsession with boots, the willingness to get dirty, live with manure and to polish leather until it shines.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781862074859
ISBN-10: 1862074852
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 15mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publish Date: 17-Apr-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Book Reviews - Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson

UK Kirkus Review » Any female who has been through the 'horsy' phase will welcome and treasure this book. The author fell passionately in love with horses at an early age and has spent her life in thrall to them. This is a pot-pourri of horse worship set out in a series of quotations, reflections and stories. The sights, sounds and smells of horses almost float up from its pages. Pierson claims that more than half of all little girls in the industrialized world are destined to fall madly in love with horses. Three-quarters of the women who own horses would as soon relinquish their husband as their horse. One reason given is that the relationship between female and horse depends a great deal on nurturing. In a labour of love, women 'bathe, curry, brush, mane-pull, tail-detangle, hoof-pick, daub with salve, apply spray and take off and put on blankets, fly sheets, leg wraps and bell boots...'. Another reason is the pleasure gained from the sensation of pure freedom, 'flying along the surface of the earth' on borrowed power. The book charts the history of horses and the essential role they played before the invention of the automobile. The Boer War cost the lives of some 500,000 horses, mules and donkeys, while 42,000 pit ponies were worked to death in UK mines. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, published in 1877, was meant to be a morality tale for carriage drivers, not a children's book. Coming up to the present day, difficult contemporary issues are put under the spotlight, including the continued abuse of horses at auctions and the controversial extraction of Premarin, used in HRT. Pierson examines the old sexual cliche about girls and horses and maintains that it is totally unfounded. However, she perhaps overstates her case in going so far as to claim that 'something biologically ordained', 'a stirring of cells and chemicals' occurring around the age of four, explains the female obsession with ponies. In the UK at least, such early obsessions tend to be restricted to the middle and upper classes who can afford the expensive paraphernalia involved in the upkeep of a pony. But this is also a book like a big cupboard full of curiosities, oddities and surprises. Did you know that there was a World Sidesaddle Federation? The chapters are beautifully illustrated with photos of women and horses from yesteryear that have an almost otherworldly serenity. The author is a gifted writer and raises as many questions as she answers. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Melissa Holbrook Pierson is the author of The Perfect Vehicle, an acclaimed book about women and motorbikes which is published by Granta Books. She lives in New York.

Books By Melissa Holbrook Pierson

Secret History of Kindness by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Hardback, May 2015
Man Who Would Stop at Nothing by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Paperback, November 2012
Place You Love is Gone by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Paperback, January 2007
Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
Paperback, October 2001