My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding

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“I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and suspect I had aged in dog years. By the time I was ten I had discovered the pain of unbearable loss. I had felt joy and jealousy. Most important of all, I knew how to love and how to let myself be loved. All these things I learned through animals. Horses and dogs were my family and my friends. This is their story as much as it is mine.”

Clare Balding grew up in an unusual household. Her father a champion horse trainer, they shared their lives with more than one hundred thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals, and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of dogs, on a sprawling estate in the Hampshire Downs. As a child, Clare happily rode the legendary racehorse Mill Reef and received her first pony, Valkyrie, as a gift from Her Majesty the Queen of England.

But Clare ranked low in the family pecking order—as a girl, she was decidedly below her younger brother, and both of them were certainly below the horses. Left to her own devices, she had to learn life’s toughest lessons through the animals, and through her adventures in the stables and the surrounding idyllic English countryside.

From her struggles at boarding school to her triumphs as an amateur jockey and event rider, Clare weaves her own coming-of-age story through portraits of the beloved horses and dogs, from the protective Candy to the unruly Frank, who were her earliest friends.

The running family joke was that “women ain’t people.” Clare has to prove them wrong, to make her voice heard—but first she had to make sure she had something to say. My Animals and Other Family is a witty, brave, and moving account of stumbling—often literally—into one’s true self.

About Clare Balding

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CLARE BALDING is an award-winning broadcaster and writer. She became the face of the BBC’s horse racing coverage in 1998, and now works across a wide range of sports for television and radio. She has been a lead presenter for the London Olympics, the Paralympics, Winter Olympics, and Commonwealth Games. For more than twelve years, she has hiked across the British countryside for the BBC series Ramblings. She has been voted the Royal Television Society’s Sports Presenter of the Year and Racing Broadcaster of the Year. She lives in west London with her partner, Alice, their wayward Tibetan terrier, Archie, and their cat, Itty.
Published April 18, 2013 by The Penguin Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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This memoir by BBC sports broadcaster and former equestrian Balding, first published in the U.K. in 2012, rollicks along like one of her beloved horses. Those horses (and some dogs) are the animals of

Mar 11 2013 | Read Full Review of My Animals and Other Family

British broadcaster Balding (The Ration Book Olympics: When London Hosted the Austerity Games) grew up in a family where animals earned more respect and were better understood than its human members. This did not make Balding's childhood unhappy, but it did make it different. Her father was a rac...

May 24 2013 | Read Full Review of My Animals and Other Family

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