Friday, 5 June 2009

Win your dream...

Pony Magazine has always liked competitions: I remember the Birthday Competition from when I took Pony in the 1970s. I don't think I ever managed to get more than 30 out of 50, and certainly never got within sniffing distance of a prize. Such is the arrogance of adulthood that I opened the quiz for 1968, and thought ah! Literature. Piece of cake. Well, no. I could answer five, straight off the top of my head without resorting to bookshelf or Google. Below is that section:


Lieutenant Colonel C E G Hope, who was Pony's editor in the 1960s, said in the introduction to the competition: "Don't be frightened by the competition! It is long but nearly all the questions are easy for any pony lover, only a few teasers to test you out." He had relented a little by the time the results came out, saying "the task set you was long and hard," which made me feel a little better, but still. The winner was Kate Flint, who scored 94% and won a cruise. The lowest mark was 72%. And, oh woe, "you did better in the literary questions than I expected...." So, if you're feeling brave, let me know in the comments below how you did! The answers will follow in a later post.

Perhaps it's a reflection on the standards of education that such a demanding quiz was considered ok (though I received the first chunk of mine in the 1960s, so perhaps it's a reflection on me). Anyway, by the 1980s, competitions had changed. No more of these nasty questions where you might have to look stuff up: now you got multiple choice. Thinking about it, I guess you might still have had to look stuff up even for that, but still - at least you knew the answer was in there somewhere.

All was not lost if you didn't fancy the intellectual challenge of the Birthday Quiz. There was a Harry Hall drawing competition in the 1960s. Below is one I particularly like (one thing I have noticed in looking at the prizewinners is that I never, ever agreed with the one that won.) Here's the Senior third prize winner for 1966, Brenda Bailey, aged 14 :



And here is naughty third prize winner from 1967:




Now, where have I seen that rearing pony? Oh yes...



The prize had changed by the 1980s. Here's the prize list for 1968:



By the 1980s, you really could fulfil the dream, and win a pony. Only if you could demonstrate you could keep it properly, otherwise if was £700 of premium bonds, but still. Pony did, when it began, run "Win-a-Pony" Competitions, which were the first of their kind, and presumably the inspiration for books like Judith M Berrisford's Jackie Won a Pony, but they stopped them: "We decided there was a risk and discontinued them." (Pony, Oct 1968). Below is the competition for 1984:



I do have a dim memory of someone doing Win a Pony competitions in the 1970s. Was it Pony? Or was it W H Smith? Anyway, I would treasure those forms, carefully fill them in, and then dream, as I knew the chance of getting the all-important parental signature was zero, and the consequences of forging it didn't bear thinking about. (Now there's a plot for a pony novel.)

I haven't yet found any evidence of the lucky winner for 1984, but I hope there was one.



12 comments:

Val said...

I'm sure it was Smiths!!!

Liz said...

I dread to think how simple they'd make the questions nowadays. To say we've dumbed down over the past 30 years is an understatement.

I remember reading Jackie Won a Pony and wished I could too. I liked the Jackie books - more than the Jills, actually.

haffyfan said...

Horse and pony mag did win a pony comps from 1987 to 1990

Alison said...

I'm pretty sure it was Smiths too - LOL I remember entering your post has brought back so many memories !!! Ali

Jane Badger said...

But did you win Ali?!!

SusannaF said...

The H&P competition in the 1980s (which I entered several times) involved a series of quizzes on horsecare know-how. You also had to send photos of yourself riding and (I think) jumping. The ten or so finalists went to a day or weekend long practical trial to assess their riding and horsekeeping skills. It was fairly hardcore!
I remember the name of one of the ponies that one of the winners got, a beautiful grey called Mishka.

Alison said...

Hee hee ...no I didn't win. I had to make do with cadging rides on my friend's pony and the occasional lesson at a riding school !! I finally BOUGHT my own steed when I got married - sadly four children and a big mortgage (not to mention the cost of livery ie. lack of my own paddock) meant horse-owning was a short lived affair ! Still I get to take my daughter for riding lessons on a Saturday morning so I do get some contact with the equine world. LOL pony books besides, of course!

Jane Badger said...

Susanna - as you say, pretty hardcore. I think the earlier competitions just assumed you could ride; though I think there was a stipulation that the conditions the pony would be kept in should be suitable.

Ali - no, I never won either! At least you get to watch your daughter. They don't seem to mind being watched, but I did hate being watched by the tinies when I had lessons in my thirties!

Anonymous said...

It was definitely WH Smiths! I too would enter religiously every year (seem to remember there was a 'finish this sentence with a witty or appropriate phrase' element to the contest...) and I believe there was an alternative prize for youngsters who didn't have room for a pony... a boat!
Jan

Jane Badger said...

Yes Jan, you're right about the picture. I remember one with a foal looking at its foot, and my genius (I thought) phrase was "I'm sure Mum said there was a frog in there," which I'm sure must have occurred to a lot of other people as well! I'd totally forgotten about the alternative prize though, or maybe I just didn't read that far.

Steph Cooke said...

Hee hee I remember the good old WH Smith Win a Pony competition!! Me and my sister would enter religiously but never won.

I remember one year you had to complete a sentence begining with 'WH Smith's is best for toys...'

I still remember my sister's entry now... 'WH Smith's is best for toys, because it pleases girls and boys. It also sells pencils, paper and pads...what's more, I've never been had!'

Hmmm I think I know now why we never won...

Jane Badger said...

I am so impressed you can remember your sister's entry!