Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Winning a Pony

Thanks to Susannah Forrest too for telling me about the plethora of Win a Pony competitions there have been. Newspapers did it: the Evening Standard, The Reveille, and the Sunday Express, besides Horse and Pony and Pony. I've found a mention of The Sun running one.

Retail companies did it too. I would love to have seen the Milky Bar Shetland, and the Heinz Beans skewbald, the Kerry Gold Butter palomino, and the Sugar Puffs pony.

Susannah also reminded me about the TV ad which W H Smith ran to publicise their competition in the 1970s. It showed a girl posting her form, only for a neigh to sound from the post box after she'd turned away. This does ring a bell, despite the fact that my sister and I were not supposed to watch ITV, which was the only source of TV ads in the 1970s. We used to watch it illicitly, one of us close to the telly just in case, ready to switch to virtuous BBC1, and the other with an ear cocked in case we heard Mama coming down the hall.

Pony Magazine got very cross in the 1960s with all the ponies given away as prizes: both in well publicised national competitions, and as raffle prizes (Kathleen Mackenzie's Prize Pony is about just such a competition.)

Lieut-Col C E G Hope, who edited Pony Magazine from 1949-1972, published this broadside from Glenda Spooner and Lt-Col R C Kidd.


1966 Pony Magazine Broadside

Did this make any difference, I wonder? The 1984 competition made it quite clear that the pony wouldn't be handed out to just anybody:

"The pony will be awarded on the condition of the winner being, in the opinion of the judges, a suitable pereson with adequate facilities to care correctly and humanely for the pony and upon the consentof the winner's parents or guardians. Should the winer fail for any reason to conform wilth the above conditions, £700 in premium bonds will be awarded in lieu."

which made it pretty plain that you were not going to be able to sneak this one past your parents, or keep the pony in your garden shed.

I did find this very bizarre effort from 2007: a Barbie competition to win a pony for a year - a year? I investigated further, and it turns out you won lessons on the same pony for a year, and transport and riding kit. Not quite the same thing. The promoter said it was about "empowering girls" - it sounds rather as if this just taught them that things aren't necessarily what they seem, and what on earth happened after the year was up and the girl had fallen in love with the pony and then that was that? Goodness.

Presumably the winner of the 1984 Pony Magazine Win a Pony Competition met all the conditions: here is Fiona Dixon, lucky girl:

Unfortunately I don't have any Pony Magazines after this issue, so I don't know what pony she chose or how they got on.

7 comments:

callmemadam said...

'keep the pony in your garden shed.'

Ha ha! One of my childhood fantasies!

Jane Badger said...

We didn't have a shed, but I used to spend many anxious moments trying to imagine the garage converted into a stable (though I knew I had absolutely no chance of persuading my step father that his beloved vintage car really would be OK outside!)

Jackie said...

Aye, but Mrs Glenda Spooner was a great one for keeping horses where they belonged, with the landed gentry.
When I wrote to her, aged 10, telling her I would like to work with difficult horses, she wrote me a withering reply, saying I would be jolly lucky to work with any horses at all - no doubt based on my address and forename giving her little hope of my being 'the right sort'
Nine years later, when I passed my BHSAI, I raised two fingers to her, and some years later again as I exercised Grand Prix horses in Florida, I raised another two to her memory.
My daughters' rescued and rehabilitated ponies would probably also have something to say.

Jane Badger said...

She was famously peppery.... I have found several veiled comments in Pony Magazine which make it fairly obvious she expressed her views with some pungency at times. To tell a ten year old what she told you though is pretty unfair. Perhaps she thought it was the best thing to discourage the legion of girls who wanted "to work with horses". It looks like it had the opposite effect with you though, and I can imagine your feelings as you passed!

marry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I too wanted to keep a pony in the garden shed, which was large, but stepmum refused.
When I did later own a pony, I realised how flimsy a garden shed is compared to a purpose-built timber stable, but a girl near us had her father convert the garage to two stables in her back garden.

I also remember the old harridans who rode, thin lipped grim women, wealthy, who never needed to worry about money, and insisted that we wore hair nets at all times when they taught us.
These oldskool horsey woman were ferocious, and once I was riding a feisty chestnut who would not stop bucking with excitement during the lesson [she loathed the other horses getting too close] that I was ordered out of the arena.
It was so humiliating, but hey ho.
At least my hair stayed in place with the stupid hairnet.
I remember the name ''Glenda Spooner''- how mean that she should be so snooty to a young girl.

Catherine M

Jane Badger said...

I have a friend who although she used to slop along on her horse smoking (this was some time ago) still did it in a hairnet - the importance of not having floppy hair had been drilled into her so successfully!