BOOK OF THE WEEK; Bruising tales of a resilient rider

All The Kings' Horses Mary King and Annie Collings with Debbie Sly (David and Charles, hardback, pounds 15.99)

Back in 1960 three-day eventing was thought to be too tough for women to compete in the Olympic Games. How could a chef d'equipe (so the argument went) tell a woman to get back in the saddle after a heavy fall and carry on? Reading All The Kings' Horses you begin to wonder how anyone would have had the temerity to stop them.

At Badminton in 1986 Mary Thompson (now Mrs King and with her husband, David, bearing the name referred to in the title) was knocked out cold for 20 minutes after a fall at the Normandy Bank. When she regained consciousness she took it for granted that she would ride her other horse, King Cuthbert, over the same course later that day. Fortunately, the powers-that-be did stop her on that occasion.

Many other triumphs of hope over experience are chronicled in this enjoyable tribute to the Kings' horses, past and present. Mary's perseverance with Star Appeal, the horse she will be riding in the Badminton Horse Trials which begin on Thursday, is a case in point. Last year "Apple" (as he is known in his stable) gave King two heavy falls. At Badminton he clobbered the very first fence and she was "torpedoed into the ground"; at Bramham he ran away with her.

"Any influence I might have had over him quickly vanished, and finally he was just running through the bridle and getting stronger and faster the further he went," King recalls of her Bramham ride. Eventually her horse ran "so fast and flat" into an upright gate "that he simply didn't get high enough to clear it... he stayed on his feet but I was somersaulted through the air."

A few months later - with a combination noseband and Dutch gag with Waterford mouthpiece to give her more effective brakes - King rode Star Appeal to victory at Burghley. "I was so thrilled for him; he has had so many false starts in his career, but this time it all came together," King told Debbie Sly, who wrote the book with the help of the Kings' head groom, Annie Collings, as well as Mary herself. Gill Robinson, part-owner of most of the horses, also has her say.

Emily, with whom King was five months pregnant when she rode on the winning team for the 1995 European Open Championships, naturally appears in a few of the photographs with her smiling and courteous mother. King says that motherhood has done nothing to diminish her competitive spirit; her sights are already "set firmly on the Sydney Olympics in 2000".

In the meantime, King has an important date at Badminton this week and a chance to add to her remarkable run of three-day event victories, which include Burghley and Blenheim last autumn and Saumur last month. The Kings' horses are now looking for yet another crown.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine