'I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and I 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 learnt 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 a rather
unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100
thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of
boxers and lurchers. As a toddler she would happily ride the legendary Mill Reef and take
breakfast with the Queen.
She and her younger brother came very low down the
pecking order. Left to their own devices, they had to learn life's toughest lessons
through the animals, and through their adventures in the stables and the idyllic Hampshire
Downs. From the protective Candy to the pot-bellied Valkyrie and the frisky Hattie, each
horse and each dog had their own character and their own special part to play.
The running family joke was that "women ain't people". Clare had 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 funny, brave, tender story of self-
Clare Balding - My Animals and Other
Clare Balding introduces her childhood memoir My
Animals and Other Family