Tiffany Francis-Baker explores how the relationship between humans and horses has shaped the British landscape, how horses have captured our wild imaginations, and how this connection has evolved and become part of our nation's ecosystems.
Most of us have enjoyed walking on a bridleway at some time, but we rarely stop to think about how these old routes came to be. These ancient networks criss-cross the British countryside and are so familiar to walkers and riders that they have become almost invisible as we meander our way along them. From atop a horse and on foot, Tiffany Francis-Baker provides readers with a new perspective on bridleways and a glimpse into their intriguing history.
Tiffany discovers how horses have been woven into the fabric of British culture, from street and pub names to trading routes and coaching inns. She visits a horse fair and learns about Traveller communities, discusses the role of equestrian sport and inclusivity, sees rewilding in action on the Knepp Estate in Sussex, and embarks on detective-style work to uncover ancient bridleways lost to time. She watches heavy horses at work, visits an abandoned Dartmoor quarry and meets the closest living ancestors of the truly wild horse.
Horses are the only domesticated animal we elevate to pets while also classifying them as vehicles, machinery or tools of farming and conservation. In their hybridity as part-domesticated, part-fiercely independent, horses can teach us a lot about our landscape and our place within it. And they can help us to understand nature through a different pair of eyes. As a nation, we have allowed them far deeper into human society than any other animal, except for dogs and cats. Revealing how deep-rooted horses have been in British culture for thousands of years, Tiffany investigates why this animal, in particular, has captured Britons' attention so much and explores how horses have shaped Britain's landscape, history and heritage.
Chapter One: The Warren
Chapter Two: Chalk and Bone
Chapter Three: The Muse
Chapter Four: Bread and Circuses
Chapter Five: The Highwayman
Chapter Six: Equestrienne
Chapter Seven: The Fair
Chapter Eight: Beasts of Burden
Chapter Nine: Moorstone
Chapter Ten: War
Chapter Eleven: The Herd
Chapter Twelve: The Go-Between
Tiffany Francis-Baker is a writer, artist and environmentalist from the South Downs in Hampshire. With a mixed background in the arts, rural heritage and conservation, her work is fuelled by a love for the natural world and a passion for protecting it. She writes and illustrates for national publications and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. Her books include Food You Can Forage, the Concise Foraging Guide, Bees and Beekeeping and Dark Skies.