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My Animals and Other Family
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My Animals and Other Family

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,128 ratings  ·  342 reviews
'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 ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published August 13th 2012 by Viking (first published 2012)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  3,128 ratings  ·  342 reviews

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Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Clare Balding is a well known sports presenter with a special interest in horse racing. I have no interest in sports and an out and out dislike of racing......but I adored this book, and could not put it down.

Clare gallops joyously through her rather eccentric life, basing each chapter on a beloved dog or horse from the period being described.... She graduates from a plump Thelwell-type Shetland pony called Valkyrie, to gymkhana ponies, and finally on to racing the thoroughbreds trained by her
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who is Clare Balding & why the heck should any of us care? She's a BBC sports presenter, was an amateur jockey, & grew up with race horses. I still don't really care, but her autobiography is told through her interactions with the more memorable horses & dogs she knew & it was excellent. There were quite a few & they're real animals - people to her (as they are to me), but animal people. She captivated me in the first chapter with our similarities growing up on a farm. She learned to walk with t ...more
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For the benefit of non-Brits, Clare Balding is a TV and radio broadcaster who became a national treasure during London 2012, anchoring C4's Paralympic coverage as well as working for the BBC at the Olympics, most notably at the Aquatics Centre. Checkout YouTube for her wonderful interview with Chad le Clos' dad after his son beat Michael Phelps to win gold for South Africa.

Anyway, this memoir of her childhood proves that Clare can write just as well as she can present. Her father was a successfu
A.E. Shaw
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012

A joy from beginning to end. I laughed plenty, I cried twice, I remembered a million things about horses and horse-racing that I'd forgotten I knew, and when it was finished, I could have read it all over again.

This book achieves the best things about autobiography by not pushing you through every last 'comic incident' of the writer's life, but by guiding you through what was important and notable to them as they grew up.

The book ends when Clare is 19, and I dearly hope writes another - I'd lo
Jordan Wharmsby
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-ebook
I should probably preface this review in saying that I have absolutely no interest in sport and most certainly not for horse racing, the decision to read this book was made purely out of fascination and intrigue yet it becomes the first biography I have chosen to review here, to receive five stars.

First of all, Balding's take on the technical writing of a biography is completely unique. She devotes each chapter of the book to a different dog or horse present in her life until later adolescence.
Rosie Review
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Now I dont normally go for biogs, preferring fiction; but something about this book made me want to read it. I loved how each chapter was seperated into each different pet or horse Clare knew growing up. It had me laughing and crying in many places. She tells her story so well, which is easy to read and understand. I’m horsey but not that interested in Racing, but I understood what she was on about and could easily visualise the races or mishaps Clare got herself into growing up! She evoked fond ...more
John Grinstead
Feb 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Despite being around on Five Live and Channel 4 for a number of years, Claire Balding came into her own as a broadcaster during the London 2012 Olympics when her heart-on-the sleeve, down-to-earth honesty and connection with people shone through. One could therefore have almost predicted that an autobiography would swiftly follow. Whilst My Animals and Other Family is entertaining, with her trademark no frills style, this account of her formative years, at school and around her Father's stables, ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have always admired Clare Balding, a sports presenter for British television. I know her from the racing coverage the BBC used to carry, but she has since gone on to do all sorts of events, including the Olympics and Paralympics. I have always admired her a lot. She comes across as an intelligent, knowledgeable and most of all genuine human being. I decided to listen to this book on Audible. It makes sense to me to listen to memoirs narrated by the author and I had a lot of fun with this one.

Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 stars) This is a memoir from Clare Balding as told through memories of key animals, primarily horses and dogs, in her life. Her father is a trainer in the horse racing industry, and has a mostly benign neglect for his daughter and son, her mother is somewhat frazzled by the children and helping to manage their business, and their grandmother is horrified by their wildness and poor manners. Their unusual upbringing includes receiving a pony from the queen, knowing that the horses come first ...more
Jemima Pett
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved this. Couldn't put it down... but then, I think I may have spent more time with animals than family when growing up, too. Review in April... ...more
Sean Bookless
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I expected this to be a standard celebrity autobiography but I found it to be a really moving memoir about someone who doesn’t quite fit in striving for approval.
Susan Bache Brewer
Nov 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
Clare Balding writes a charming memoir of her first 20 years growing up on an idyllic English estate in Hampshire Downs. Not the book I thought I was getting from the library (expecting My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell) but delightful nonetheless. I learned a bit about thoroughbred racehorses, racing in general and the important lessons animals teach us about unconditional love.
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Poignant, irresistibly captivating and totally candid this special, must-read book is a real delight to behold.

I have always been a huge admirer and aficionado of Claire Balding, as she is my heroine in both the equestrian and sports world but in the journalism world too because of my combined love of horses and her career. From the perspective of an animal lover, horse rider and equestrian devotee this book was a must-have as soon as I noticed it in the bookshop, with its cover standing out on
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, autobiographies
I absolutely loved this. It's not very often I read an autobiography in nearly one sitting (I would have had I not have gone to bed!) but I didn't want to put this down. It's so brilliantly written, I love how each part of her life is told through an animal she's loved - I love that uniqueness of it.

I've been an admirer of Clare for quite a long while - so this book was a must-have for me and I treated myself to it after my exams were over. It was well worth waiting for. She writes this in a won
Stephanie Jane
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, audio, sport
Clare Balding is on TV a lot at the moment presenting the Commonwealth Games. I hadn’t considered this when I began to listen to her autobiography a few days ago, but it is certainly an apt time to experience her book. I like Clare as a presenter because she is knowledgeable and comes across as a strong role model - no reliance on simpering or cleavage from her! However, I knew very little about her life before she began presenting mainstream sport. I had no idea she had been such a successful j ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Delightful read for me! This autobiography of a girlhood lived on a racehorse training estate in England is quite a window. Not only into economic class, exact era, sibling features, or temperaments, either. This author is open and few details of any embarrassment are omitted re her animals or her family relationships. Who knew that dairy farmers have a lot in common with racing horse stable keepers! They never go on vacation, for one thing. And this I know is true.

Every chapter heralds another
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
An impulse pick-up from the library display.

One of the best books I've read, considering I had no idea who Clare Balding was.

An amazing life of where animals come in the pecking line before humans, (in some cases that is true) as well as a long line of heritage (which is baffling) and a grandmother who is not afraid to speak her mind about everything.

Fav quotes:
*Do it, enjoy it and if you fall, so what? You'll get straight back on again.
*Be strong. Be yourself. You'll be fine
*Be confident. Be fa
Hazel Roberts
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read an excerpt from this book in a newspaper so when it appeared as an audio , narrating by the author herself I decided to go for it. Have listened as far as the career of Mill Reef and her powers of observation and description of other people's love for horses and other animals is remarkable. I am not a racing fan,in fact my knowledge of horse racing comes from the books of Dick Francis. Claire Balding is amazing,her knowledge of the sport and competitors taking part is phenomenal. How much ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
I hadn't really thought about Clare Balding's background. It turns out she had quite a privileged background - the aerial shot of the extensive grounds Kingsclere is somewhat different to what the aerial shot of the housing estate I grew up on would look like. On the other hand, I don't think I'd want to swap childhoods. Her family don't exactly come across as loving.

Disappointingly, I didn't get much of an idea of the personalities of the animals Clare grew up with - this book is really just a
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at the library and had that experience where I neglect things to finish it. A few chapters in, I was reliving my childhood where I devoured every horse book, wishing I was the girl in the story. This was different, however: Balding's book is amazing because despite the privileged home and 24/7 access to her animals, she shares the painful effects of a cold, unemotional home. The drawings and pictures compliment the story well. Her writing is funny while managing to share emotion ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
I had never heard of Clare Balding, but a friend recommended this book, and the library had a copy, so I thought why not?

It turned out to be the author's memoir of her first twenty or so years of life, focused around the animals that were important to her at any given time. This proves to be a rather effective way of organising her chapters, and she gets a lot of her life in around the various dogs and horses. And despite the fact that I have no knowledge of or interest in horse racing, I did fi
Susan Grossey
May 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I reserved this book for ages at the library so rushed in as soon as it was my turn - but I have to say that it did not quite live up to my expectations. It is very jolly most of the time, and very sad at other times, but it does all get a bit repetitive, describing lots of dogs and horses who all (for me) rather blur into one (or two: one dog and one horse). It might perhaps have been better as a shorter book - but on the plus side, you can dip in and out as the chronology is not that important ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it
It was definitely time for a change and an autobiography focusing on animals was certainly that.
I think I found this particularly enjoyable since I grew up not far from Highclere and Downe House and when I was youngster, horses and ponies were a large part of my life.

I hadn't realised that Clare Balding had actually been a jockey herself, albeit an amateur and to a certain extent it's amazing that she comments at the end that she hardly rides now given her childhood and teenage years.

Alice Rooke
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my goodness! Clare balding is an absolutely wonderful person!
What a fantastically raw, creative writing talent she has! The comments on the cover of the book are totally true! I wasnt just a person looking in on clare's life. I was living it right beside her!
I feel i made a new friend and am mortified to see her grow up!
A wonderful read and cannot wait to pick up any of her other pieces of work!
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book and have chosen for Book Club. I loved the way she described all the dogs and horses she had over the years - I laughed out loud at some of her adventures and also cried!
A must for animal lovers, also found her story very endearing - liked her before but LOVE her now.

Jennie, you must read this!
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable book,Clare Balding memoirs of growing up in the world of horse racing told with a great sense of humour .From the very first pages I was drawn into a world of horses,racing,and dogs,humans making an appearance now and then ,I laughed and cried with the young Clare at every trial and success.
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this autobiography. It's well written in a style that doesn't come across as being "look at me and what I've achieved" as so many others are.
I hope that there is another one to cover her televsion career as this one ends when Clare is 19/20 and she has achieved so much more since then.
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
really enjoyed clare balding's autobiography by using the animals first then her family in a reverse of gerald durrel's book title but found it warm and heart felt and a honest look at her early life in the berkshire downs in the life of racing and stable/horses ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Clare can do nothing wrong as far as I am concerned and I enjoyed reading about her early family life. Her descriptions of the pets she has had throughout her life were interesting but I found the overall feeling of the book superficial and not particulalry revealing.
Aleksandr Voinov
Got this for the queer book club, read 80 pages and though I was decently entertained, the book and me just have no chemistry. It's tremendously British, and, coming from a horse-related family myself, I caught myself nodding a lot. ...more
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“I believe that horses bring out the best in us. They judge us not by how we look, what we're wearing or how powerful or rich we are, they judge us in terms of sensitivity, consistency, and patience. They demand standards of behavior and levels of kindness that we, as humans, then strive to maintain.” 20 likes
“I have learned not to take too much notice of those who disapprove of my lifestyle choices, because I know that I was not designed to be part of the crowd. If I am different, I make no apology, and I hope that others will have the courage to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in, fight for those who need protection, love who they want to love, and be proud of it.” 9 likes
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