In life, ponies get outgrown. It was a great sadness in my life when I could no longer cram myself onto Dini, the Welsh pony I learned to ride on. In the pony book world, ponies get outgrown too: supply yourself with a large box of tissues and read Alyssa Brugman's latest, Greener Pastures.
I don't know why it's never dawned on me before, but Ruby Ferguson's Jill goes from the age of around 11 to 17 in the books, and she still seems to fit Black Boy and Rapide just as well in Pony Jobs for Jill as she did in Jill's Gymkhana. Here is a picture of Jill from Jill's Gymkhana:
and here she is in Rosettes for Jill, at least four years older, but still on Black Boy. The hair style's changed, and she's now got a figure, but she's no taller. Her legs are just where they always were on the pony.
Caney does do some very alarming things with scale in the books. When the characters are not on ponies, they shrink. The most alarming example is in Jill's Gymkhana, where Jill and Ann, supposed at the time to be at least eleven, look to be about the size of seven-year olds:
Jill's grown quite a bit taller in A Stable for Jill:
But once she's on a pony, she's a different girl. Maybe there's some of Alice's Drink Me bottles lurking somewhere? Jill's grown substantially in a few short days in the following picture from A Stable for Jill. Perhaps it's the influence of the pony that does it. Imagine the fun you could have with all those growth charts in your children's child health records. Have the child measured on the ground, and then straightaway on a pony. I shudder to think what the health visitor would have to say about all that wild zig-zagging on the graph.
Oh dear. Poor health visitor. Here is Jill in Pony Jobs for Jill, definitely grown up, but still fitting that pony.
Then I thought well, Ann does out grow Seraphine — or at least I presume so: she's just described as being handed down to Ann's little sister. I'm sure someone, somewhere, in the books, must be described as outgrowing a pony. Mustn't they?
I do wish, though that I had Jill's ability to grow or shrink depending on whether I was on the ground or on a horse. I am middle aged and nervous now, and I feel safer when I'm closer to the ground.