Great history of the horse and quotes from other writers over the centuries. An in-depth look into horse ownership in elite circles.
Wrtieen more toward a non-horse person with a lot of detail and explainiation that most horse people would already know. Very good for a beginner in the horse world to understand the scope of this passion.
As a horse owner, a couple sections in the book I could relate to and chuckle at. Overall though, I was disappointed with this book and was bored to tears through most of it. It was very difficult to find the motivation to finish it.
In some ways, this was a 4 star book about horses, but more of a 3. It wanders a bit with choppy timelines & can be repetitious or even boring in spots. Korda isn't a bitten-by-the-bug type of horseman nor does he get his hands too dirty, but he admits that. Given his job, the top editor of Simon & Shuster, I wouldn't expect it of him. He writes well & credibly, though. Some of his wandering is entertaining & I learned a lot about city riding that I hadn't known, if it was true.
Unfortunately, he's dishonest &/or disingenuous about Fox Hunting & horse slaughter & that makes me wonder where else he's led me astray. Probably nothing of importance since I know horses & horse people at least as well as he does, but he still loses 2 stars, one for each instance in which I caught him.
Fox Hunting is actually now known as Fox Chasing, which it was & has been even back in the time Korda recounts about in Middleburg, VA. I read that section & thought he was really good capturing the hunting people, but he doesn't know squat about actually riding in a hunt. According to Korda, only rich thrill seekers & nuts seem to hunt & the purpose is to kill the fox. WRONG!!!
Not a big deal, but then he went on to further foster that opinion about the hunt around his property in Upstate NY. Supposedly one of the proponents of the hunt says it helps farmers protect their chickens. He has to be kidding. No real fox chaser would say anything like that except in jest. A fox hound can't get into a fox den. That's why Fox Terriers & Jack Russells were bred, neither of which are carried on the saddles of any US hunt that I've known or heard of. He's slick about this lie, though. In Middleburg, he has one person say the hunt isn't about the fox, but the way he paints the guy drinking, who would believe him? Sorry, Korda, you flat out lied & you had to know it.
If a fox goes to ground, the run is done. Good job & thanks for the run. I've known foxes to run from their cover around an area a couple of times & then go to ground right where we picked them up regularly. It wasn't as if we (2 dozen baying hounds & maybe 50 people on horse back) snuck up on them. One was close to the kennels and knew damn well we were coming. If she didn't feel like playing, she just didn't come out. Her choice & we appreciated it when she wanted to play.
Further, he talks about how wild & crazy a run is. He fails to mention there are usually at least 2 fields; jumpers (fast) & non-jumpers (slow). The first can get pretty wild & is a blast. The second is paced for those with weaker riding skills & green horses. Many hilltop, too. That's just viewing the hunt from afar. He mentions drag hunts, but never went on one. That's where a sack is dragged earlier in the day or even the day before & the hounds follow that scent. No wild fox involved. They're not as fun because foxes are sneakier & far less predictable, which is part of the excitement.
Apparently he's against horse slaughter too. He tells us how many horses were shipped one year, but fails to mention how many are born or what the trends are. I agree with him that the numbers are too high, but have no respect for anyone who paints half a picture on an emotionally charged problem, using the numbers with the most impact, & then wanders off. Only one side told & no solutions are offered. He talks about some alternatives, but fails to mention how few horses fit into those programs.
For instance, he makes a big, shining deal out of one old, lame mare who will take up space in a penal program for life, but doesn't mention that if she were put down, a dozen other younger, better horses could have used her slot to be rehabilitated & sent on to decent homes. Instead, what becomes of them? Slaughter? I sure hope not, but it might be better than the alternative of starving to death out on some backwoods farm, which happens all too often. Like dogs & cats, there are more horses bred than people can take care of. The Thoroughbred racing industry is only one part of the problem, but it is the richest target, so the whole way Korda handled this seemed like a cheap shot to me.
I don't recall a mention of his son, Chris, once he was remarried, but I found it odd, no matter what Chris has turned into (the transgender leader of the Church of Euthanasia) according to Wikipedia. That's his business, but I found the lack very sad. My kids' horseback adventures are some of my fondest memories. He has my condolences there.