I found myself wandering through Half Priced Books this weekend, killing time while the SO was having his hair cut. Naturally I always check the pet section, just on the off chance I see anything interesting about horses, duh.
And HOLY SCORE BATMAN!!!! It was like the heavens opened up and made this particular store just for me. The Jurassic Park theme song was playing (huge HUGE dinosaur fan here), and there it was, so big it had to be shelved on its side. A massive tome titled The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America. You guys. This book. It’s enormous.
It chronicle’s racing’s history in America, beginning with in the late 1600’s, in case you aren’t already aware, this predates the formation of any jockey club as well as the formation of the thoroughbred stud book. At the time there was just the General Stud Book in England, which, side note, the first edition wasn’t published until 1793.
I am just in awe of how comprehensive this book is. There is so much history on the racing industry itself and how it has evolved, the people and their alliances, and of course, the horses. It also includes some amazing photographs, which if I am being honest, were worth the $10 just on their own.
I have only flipped through it and read the first few chapters but have already learned several interesting things. For instance, racing in England at that point was considered the sport of kings, and when the colonies starting organized horse racing they wanted to change the format of the races to be more democratic. In England the horses would race over hills and across the countryside, generally on a straight path. So you either saw the beginning of the race or the end. The colonies felt that everyone should be able to see the entire race, since it would be more egalitarian, so the oval racetrack on flat ground was born.
I feel like I can’t accurately describe just how excited I am to have found this. I also scored a copy of Centered Riding (how did I not already own this?) and the bible, Hunter Seat Equitation by George Morris. My equine related library is growing in some seriously awesome ways.