Tales from a Yorkshire Racing Yard
by Gemma Hogg
Being a stable lass is probably one of the hardest jobs in the country, and yet for Gemma Hogg, it is the most rewarding. She works in the beautiful Yorkshire market town of Middleham and if her colleagues are occasionally challenging, then the horses are downright astonishing.
Now, in Stable Lass, she takes us into the closed world of a top racing yard, from the elation of having several winners in one day to the almost indescribable grief of losing a horse. Like most stable lads and lasses, Gemma arrived in her yard as a teenager fresh out of racing college and had to cope with living away from home for the first time, as well as adapting to the brutal long hours, backbreaking work and often treacherous weather. She describes falling in love with Polo Venture, the first racehorse in her care, the pure exhilaration of riding him on Middleham Gallops for the first time and what happens when a horse takes against you, from the growling gelding Valiant Warrior to the potentially lethal Broadway Boy.
She brings to life the characters around the yard, from straight-talking boss Micky Hammond to the jockeys starving themselves to make weight, the wealthy owners and the other stable lads and lasses who come from a range of different places and backgrounds.
Stable Lass by Gemma Hogg is a unique look into the world of horse racing filled with heart-warming stories and amazing thoroughbreds – some loveable, some cantankerous, all impressive.
I’m an animal lover and have always been fascinated by horses. Before reading this I knew very little about the horse racing world but was eager to find out more. I had questions in my head about how much the horses want to race and this was the ideal way to find out from a stable girl working in a well-known racing yard.
We first meet Gemma on her first day at one of Britain’s top racing yards in 1998. She is sixteen and leaving the comfort of living at home with her mum and dad in Leeds to renting a grubby room close to Mickey Hammond’s stables in Middleham, North Yorkshire. This is the next step in Gemma’s career, she has already undertaken a college course but this will be her first time working daily with racehorses. She describes the unglamorous side to the job, the early starts and mucking out to the privilege of riding these amazing thoroughbred’s who are at peak fitness.
As a Yorkshire lass, Gemma is straight-talking, funny and honest. She tells of the ups and downs of working in an industry which was then dominated by men. Her love of horses shines out and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the horses (and humans) she has met throughout her long career. I felt the elation she achieved on winning a race, to the total devastation when a horse doesn’t get to do the journey home.
Horse lovers will adore this book, it is informative, honest and truly inspiring.
Thank you for reading.