2001-Sun Sep 24 03:01:25 EDT 2017
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In retrospect, it’s not surprising that Clare Balding became a darling of Britain’s horse-racing scene. The broadcaster and former amateur jockey and event rider is the U.K.’s go-to sports presenter — and two-time recipient of the Racing Broadcaster of the Year award. But before she made a name for herself covering such illustrious events as the London Olympics, Balding spent a rather unconventional childhood as the daughter of a champion horse trainer.
And we don’t use the word “champion” lightly: Balding’s father trained the royal family's horses and her first pony, Valkyrie, was a gift from none other than Queen Elizabeth II.
This month Balding’s first book, My Animals and Other Family, hits American stores. Balding has summed up its premise best: “Horses and dogs were my family and my friends. This is their story as much as it is mine.”
Vetstreet reached out to the author to discuss her literary venture — as well as what it was really like to live on an estate in the English countryside surrounded by more than 100 horses and plenty of dogs too.
A. Clare Balding: “It was actually at school, when I was about 6 years old, and I said that the Queen was coming over [to my house] for breakfast. The other children thought I was lying, and the teacher told me to stop showing off. I was saying it as a statement of fact — I didn't realize that it sounded like boasting or a lie.”
A. “I was a fan of Gerald Durrell and also of James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small. I wanted to capture a bit of that madcap British rural life, where animals are more important than people.”
A. “I think that I learned about unconditional love very early on. I loved Frank — my multicolored, badly behaved pony — despite the fact that everyone thought he was ugly and had no manners. I knew that we understood each other. He was my soul mate. I also learned from horses and ponies that patience and consistency are virtues that will be rewarded. If you are short-tempered or confused in your messages, a horse doesn't know what to do — and will do the opposite of your wishes.”
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