Melanie Reid on If Wishes Were Horses

IWWH covers

Melanie Reid in The Times:

“An eclectic band, from HM to Katie Price to millions of little girls, many now middle-aged, belong to this faintly embarrassing masonic sisterhood. How it strikes is a mystery. Maybe it’s a cult; maybe a virus; some (men, naturally) think it’s down to erotic obsession and fetishism. Whatever. Our brains are totally washed; a flame of passion ignited. One woman brave enough to break cover recently is Susanna Forrest. ‘I was imprinted like a goose when I was only a few months old,’ she admits in her delicious book If Wishes were Horses: A Memoir of Equine Obsession.

In 1969, academics found that, among little girls, playing horses was almost as popular as playing hospitals. (Now, granted, probably more playing X Factor.) Forrest says: ‘Across Europe, North America and Australasia, millions of little girls galloped, snorted and pawed the ground as their mothers had done before them, dreaming of one birthday morning when they’d wake up and there would be a pony picking at the lawn under their window. And nobody questioned this. Why? Where does it all begin?’ …

On family journeys, one escaped from the boredom of the back seat of the car or the train to gallop across country alongside, soaring over huge hedges and ditches for endless miles. Every horse-mad little girl I know did the same. As Forrest says, horses made reality better. A horse embodied the liberation inherent in all fantasy. It freed you from the mundane.”

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