At the age of thirty-four, Polly Evans decides to fulfil a childhood dream – to learn how to ride a horse. But rather than do so conveniently close to home, she goes to Argentina and saddles up among the gauchos. Overcoming battered limbs, a steed hell-bent on bolting, and an encounter with the teeth of one very savage dog, Polly canters through Andean vineyards and gallops beneath snow-capped Patagonian peaks. She also survives a hair-raising game of polo and a back-breaking day herding cattle.
Taking a break from riding, Polly delves into Argentina’s tumultuous history: the Europeans’ first terrifying acquaintances with the native ‘giants’; the sanguinary demise of the early missionaries; and the gruesome drama of Evita’s wandering corpse.
On a Hoof and a Prayer is the stampeding story of Polly’s journey from timorous equestrian novice to wildly whooping cowgirl. It’s a tale of ponies, painkillers and peregrinations – not just around present-day Argentina, but also into the country’s glorious and turbulent past.
“Her writing is full of colourful anecdotes on taking tango lessons in Buenos Aires, attending polo tournaments and galloping across the pampas and into the mountains. This is a jolly romp of a read, with some good snapshots of local life.” Telegraph.co.uk
“Funny and easygoing, Evans reveals the little-known richness of Argentina.” Kirkus
“Polly Evans, a Londoner, claims to be “very cowardly and not at all fond of danger,” but here she goes again, putting herself in uncomfortable situations with a risk of aches and pains – and embarrassment. The celebrated author of “It’s Not About the Tapas” (her take on Spain) and “Fried Eggs With Chopsticks” (her China travels), Evans has an engaging style that draws comparisons to Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson. Certainly, she’s open to adventure, whether motorcycling across New Zealand or dogsledding in the Yukon (the subject of her book due out next year). For this South American journey, she decided to fly to a 6,000-acre cattle farm in Cordoba, where she would learn to ride in a week. Then she would spend two months touring the country from Patagonia to Buenos Aires, riding horseback whenever she got the chance. Her girlfriends were wary. They warned her that the denim seams on her jeans would permanently scar her calves, that her hands would be rubbed raw, and worst of all: “Oh yes, and also, remember that after you’ve been riding you will really stink.” But she has sense enough to take it all in stride”. Spencer Rumsey, www.newsday.com