Princess Royal’s foreword boosts Judy Steel’s charity horse poem anthology

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WRITER Judy Steel’s latest work has a Royal seal of approval

The foreword to her anthology of horse poetry, Horse Tales and Saddle Songs launched tomorrow is by HRH the Princess Royal.

Judy said: “I had been thinking about how to widen the appeal of the book and decided to make it a charity publication, with the proceeds donated to that wonderful organisation, Riding for the Disabled. With the Princess Royal kindly agreeing to contribute a foreword, I believe the book can be a real winner.”

The idea for the publication came about after the horse-loving writer and friends put together an evening’s entertainment under the title Horse Tales and Saddle Songs.

“I always thought that would make a good title for an anthology of horse poetry and over the years began to collect the material, To be honest I just came across the poems over the years,” said Judy.

Local performers John Nichol, Elspeth Smellie and Henry Douglas will recite and sing a selection from the book of about 50 poems and Lady Steel will sign copies at the Bowhill Theatre launch near Selkirk. Half of the profits will be donated to Riding for the Disabled.

Judy said: “My selection of poems and songs, beautifully illustrated by Cath Rutherford, is international, but the majority are from Scotland with the largest proportion of these coming from Scotland’s horse country, the Scottish Borders, which has been steeped in its rich horse culture for centuries. The book has definitely got a Borders slant.”

Works of the Scottish-Australian poet and horseman Will Ogilvie from Kelso, Peeblesshire actress Gerda Stevenson, Skye poet Aonghas Macneacail and Selkirk historian Walter Elliot are included as well as items by Lady Steel.

“As a horse lover and rider myself, researching this project has been a truly fascinating and evocative journey. I collected well over eighty poems but as is often the case ‘less is more’ so reluctantly I’ve had to reduce the collection to some extent.”

Asked how she selected the entries Lady Steel said: “There were two criteria: one, I had to like them, and the other thing was that they fit into the various categories I set.

“I don’t have an outstanding favourite. I hope people will enjoy all of them.”

Lady Steel has divided the songs and poems into sections which include Heroic Horses, Faithful Friends, Prancing Ponies, Romantic Rides and Common Riding Chases and a small section on donkeys and one on camel riding.

And from her categories, which type of horse is she be most drawn to? The faithful friend.

Published by Bordersprint, Selkirk, Horse Tales and Saddle Songs costs £10.

The launch will be an informal gathering in the foyer and bar at Bowhill Theatre at 8pm when signed copies of the book will be available. See www.bordersfestivalhorse.org for booking details.