Book Review: Unbridled Passion
Show Jumping’s Greatest Horses and Riders, by Jeff Papows, Ph.D.
By Leigh Ballard
Giving a closeup look into the lives of top show jumping riders and their relationship to their horses, Unbridled Passion by Jeff Papows allows one to understand the dedication it takes to be at the top of a sport. More than twenty top professionals and amateurs are showcased, each in their own chapters, showing a glimpse of the special partnerships the riders share with their horses. The reader is privy to the pain of accidents and injuries riders have suffered, and how they fought through their physical setbacks. The challenges of health, finances, and just plain luck are on display to illustrate what it takes to triumph in what Papows calls “the world’s most beautiful sport.”
McLain Ward and Sapphire’s stellar career are celebrated. McLain’s character, diplomacy, and friendliness are applauded, and Sapphire is described as an amazing mare, with some quirky and unique behaviors. The author writes about the unfortunate incident of the World Cup Finals in 2010 when Sapphire was potentially set to win the prestigious show jumping title, but was singled out for testing and then disqualified amidst much controversy. The author lets us know in no uncertain terms what his feelings are about that bitter event!
Papow gives us a look into one young amateur’s career, which has required much social sacrifice as she pursues her riding goals and an education at the same time. Victoria Birdsall is devoted to her horses, and Papow uses her experience to convey the amazing bond between the top-class horse and rider athletes on the world stage.
The horse and rider portraits shared in this volume give insight into the admirable commitment and grit that top riders possess. This volume focuses on contemporary riders in the sport, but Papow looks forward to writing a future volume about historical horse and rider “superstars.”
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