If Wishes Were Horses

Guardian (Lucy Cavendish):

‘Susanna Forrest describes her ongoing fascination with horses with such clarity, such a feel for how horses can affect your life, that she took me right back to a childhood of Thelwell and Follyfoot. … Hers is a richly evocative book, describing the smells, the sounds, “the clanking of the fork on the wheelbarrow”.  … her pages benefit from hectares of groundwork. This is not just a tale of one woman’s love, but of swathes of people who are involved in the equine world.It is packed full of tales of golden horses, chariots and children riding round the streets of Brixton.’

Telegraph (Clover Stroud): *****

‘Tackling what exactly the appeal of ponies really is, while powerfully conveying her passion for them, Susanna Forrest has written a beautiful book about her own equine obsession, while casting her eye over the role horses have played in popular culture. Opening with descriptions of her Falabella obsession, and of anxieties she had as a child that she might grow too tall to ride a Derby winner, you quickly know you’re in the hands of a true addict.’

Times (Melanie Reid):

“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.”

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

Join the Conversation


  1. I bought your wonderfully written book and although I’m only partway through it so far, it’s taken me back to the feelings I had about horses as a child. It resonated with me so much that I literally cried in some spots as it evoked all those feelings again. I never lost the love of horses, and I’ve made capturing their likeness in art my life’s purpose, but I had forgotten what it was like to feel that single-minded drive of childlike obsession and your book brought all that nostalgia flooding back, thank you.

  2. Thank you so so much! I hope it goes on having that effect ;) Obsession is the best and only word for it, and though that obsession has its comic side to observers it’s sincere and praiseworthy. We should all have big passions.

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