Review by Nancy Brannon
This is not the first time that renowned horse photographer Bob Langrish and journalist Nicola Jane Swinney have teamed up to publish a book about horse breeds. Others include Horse Breeds of the World, Spirit of the Horse, Beautiful Horse and The Magnificent Horse. Horses is another of their “coffee table” books, well researched, succinctly written, and filled with beautiful photographs. This book profiles more than 70 of the world’s horse breeds, describing their history, development, characteristics, and relationship with humans.
The introduction gives a concise summary of the book: beginning with history of the horse from its earliest ancestors, dating back to the Eocene epoch 56-34 million years ago, moving to modern horses, and then to the various types work to which humans have put horses.
The book begins with the foundation horses, particularly the Arab, from which other breeds have developed. Next, the authors turn to wild and feral breeds, horses that were once domesticated, but returned to the wild. “The only truly wild horse is Przewalski’s Horse, a separate subspecies from all other horses in existence today,” the author says. “Perhaps the best-known feral breed is the American Mustang.”
Then it’s on to European horses, including many breeds that have been imported to the US, like the Hanoverian, Trakehner, Selle Français, Percheron and Haflinger. The United Kingdom has some unique equines because “Britain’s isolation led to the equines remaining relative pure,” particularly with breeds like the Exmoor, which inhabited the moors of southwest England and the Welsh Mountain Pony. Folks will recognize the indomitable Shetland pony and the two types of Welsh ponies: Section A/B and Section C/D. The Connemara is considered to be Ireland’s only native breed, theoretically introduced to the island when the Spanish Armada wrecked of the western coast in the 16th century.
In North American, no one knows why early horses died out after the last ice age, but it is generally accepted that Equus evolved in North America. The Quarter Horse, American Saddlebred, Morgan, Pony of the Americas, Standardbred, Appaloosa, Tennessee Walking horse, and Palomino are the better known favorites. Lesser known American horses include the Florida Cracker, Falabella, Mangalarga Marchador, and Criollo.
Finally, attention is given to horses in the rest of the world, such as the Caspian, Iomud, Marwari with the distinctive curled ears, Australian Stock Horse, Boerperd, and the beautiful Orlov Trotter.
The stunning photographs and the concisely written history of each breed make the book a good reference as well as a photograph album to revisit time and again.
About the authors:
Bob Langrish has established a reputation as one of the foremost international equestrian photographers. He has illustrated and contributed to numerous books, works for top equestrian magazines in more than 20 countries and has photographed six Olympic Games. In 2011 he was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for equestrian photography and services to art - the first time this award has been given to an equine photographer.
Nicola Jane Swinney is a journalist at Britain's only equestrian news weekly, Horse & Hound. She has written for several magazines, both in the UK and America. This is her eighth horse book.
Photo credit: All images are ©Bob Langrish, and appear courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing.
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