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Riding Country, by Philip Holden

Riding Country

On horseback in New Zealand, by Philip Holden; HarperCollins. 158pp; 100 colour photographs. RRP $49.95.

Philip Holden is a name synonymous with books on life in New Zealand's "back country". He has written more than 40 books, most on topics related to huntin' shootin', and fishin'.

Turning his attention this time to the horse fans among us, Holden takes a drive almost the length of the country to look at horses and the people who use them in their everyday working lives.

The first chapter is a touching look at the thousands of horses who went to war in South Africa in the late 1800s. Of the 8000 who went, only one returned home.

Cruising his way down the country, Holden meets Kaimanawa horses, rodeo enthusiasts, western riders, polo players, and stockmen. There are clydies, thoroughbreds, and station-breds hacks. Charles Upham's horses have their own chapter.

Holden has split the book 50-50 between the North and South Islands -- and rightly so. The names and places of his southern travels will ring a bell with many -- Molesworth, Mount Linton, Argyle, Nokomai, and Glenaray. Each area rates a chapter, and these do not need to be read in order.

The photography is spectacular.

The final chapter is a tribute to southern horseman George Pollard, who died last December.

Riding Country will introduce you to people and places -- and horses -- you've never heard of, and reacquaint you with those you have. A great coffee-table book, not just for horse lovers.



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