We'd have to start by saying that we're a long way from being part of what we think is the target market of "The Clydesdale: Workhorse of the World" by Mary Bromilow. What we know about horses is, at best, slight, and our own encounters with them doesn't extend beyond observing their presence at events like the Royal Highland Show. The good thing is that this allows us to review this book without our feelings being swayed by a high level of innate enthusiasm for the subject. Having got that out of the way, let's go on to say that this is an absolutely wonderful book for anyone who does have an interest in horses, and the Clydesdale horse in particular.
There's something very nice about reading a book that you know is bound to be THE book on its subject, and that is certainly the case here. That's a statement that can safely be made without the need to consult an oracle. "The Clydesdale: Workhorse of the World" was initially published by Argyll Publishing in 2011, and proved so successful that the author was persuaded by Clydesdale enthusiasts to produce an expanded and updated version, which has now been published by Birlinn.
This is a is a superbly produced book, whose look and feel do full justice to its contents. The author is clearly an expert on her subject, and succeeds in telling the story of the Clydesdale in a way that is accessible and readable for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. What is especially nice is the balance between the highly informative text and the copious illustrations, mainly in the form of black and white photographs, complete with a full colour section in the heart of the book.
The book opens with a foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales, in his capacity as Patron of the Clydesdale Horse Society. We then move on to an overview of what makes the Clydesdale horse so special. We found the chapter on the origins of the Clydesdale breed in the late 1700s, and the bloodlines that have been so important to ensuring the success of the breed particularly interesting. The use of Clydesdales over the year is then examined, first in towns and cities pulling carts carrying the goods required by an ever-expanding population; and then on farms, often pulling ploughs, and in forests, helping with logging. The author then leads us through the role of the Clydesdale at war, especially in World War One; the success of the breed internationally; and the use of the breed as a riding horse. The book concludes with "Clydesdales today", which brings the story right up to date.