Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Brunch

Food: Just some Dunkin' Donuts coffee, although that's currently my "everyday" favorite to make!

Book at table: Riders by Jilly Cooper (awesome soapy re-read). Which brings me to my discussion today...

I loved horses long before I loved history, as a subject and as an activity. When I was younger, I read every sort of young adult book and series about kids and horses that I could get my hands on. I collected Bonnie Bryant's The Saddle Club (which eventually numbered in the hundreds, though I had outgrown them by then) and Joanna Campbell's Thoroughbred series, specifically. I read every book that Margeurite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague) ever put out and I probably re-read many of these. I lived too close to a major city to realistically own a horse, so horse stories were my favorite, fantastic vehicle. When the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Racing Championships rolls around in October this year, I am planning a fun week here at The Courtier's Book on racing history.

Fast forward to now, and I'm still reading them. My tastes have changed slightly... I stick to the adult section for the most part. I loved Seabiscuit and Horse Heaven and several romances. Now, however, I also read for educational purposes. While I didn't own my own horse, I did take lessons, and now I'm getting back into the sport of dressage. Just in case you're curious, dressage is descended from the training that horses used to receive in the military. It stretches back all the way to the Greeks as a discipline, and involves perfecting the horse's response to the direction of the rider, conditioning and athleticism, and maneuvering complex changes of pace and speed. It is sometimes called "ballet for horses," because horses often look like they are bouncing and dancing, and the event is occassionally choreographed to music for "freestyle" competitions. If you've ever seen the "White Lipizzaner Stallions" perform, they are doing very high level dressage, involving the "airs above the ground," which include remaining on their hind legs alone for long periods of time, jumping straight into the air from a standstill, and jumping while rearing on command, all of which would have been put to use in ancient battle tactics.

So I'm reading some fun literature and some serious literature on horse sports right now that I picked up from my local library. I have a couple books on basic dressage to get me in the right mindset to restart my lessons, in particular.

A little bit ago, a meme was going around asking what kind of books are particular to you, as a reader. Mine is not probably as obscure as others, but it has turned to riding theory books focusing on dressage.

What is a tinier, specific genre that you're always happy to get a copy of? Are you a history buff of a certain period, character, or event, or is it something else entirely that floats your boat?


  1. I know a novel you might like, it's called Dark Horse by Tami Hoag, it's a mystery/crime novel set in the elite competive dressage industry, I read it ages ago, it was an entertaining read. I also get the horse thing.
    On the obscure reading thing, my other half has a fascination with the history of the english longbow, not so much any of the wider subjects relating to the middle ages, just the long bow.

  2. Actually, I read that one already, and then it's sequel, The Alibi Man, which I didn't like very much. Dark Horse was great, though. I would definitely try another Tami Hoag novel.