I've recently been studying my fine collection of early Pony Club Annuals, and what a treasure trove they've been.
When I was young, my mother bought me a magazine every week which was full of information - historical pieces, scientific pieces, and the thing I remember best, and which I looked forward to most: "This week's beautiful picture". Despite long discussions, neither Mum not I can remember what the magazine was actually called. I'm fairly certain it wasn't Look and Learn, but it could well have been The World of Wonder. That title set off a little bit of a cringe at its worthiness, and I do remember being embarrassed about admitting what I read at the time, so I wonder if that means it's it? Just not sure. I think I might have to scour Ebay and see if I can buy a copy, and will then have to reassure OH that no, this is not going to be another field of study; it's just to see if that's what it was, and no I am not going to fill the house with yet more runs of ancient magazines. No, really.
Anyway, it's the didacticism of those magazines; that urge to teach and inspire that was there in the first Pony Club Annual. I don't think that's a bad thing: I find these articles, from the picture feature on Riding Habits of a Hundred Years Ago, to The Spanish Riding School at Vienna, via John Cowper and The Diverting History of John Gilpin, fascinating. I think it's great that the Pony Club Annual didn't take a riding and pony care is all we do view, but tried to show its readers the whole scope of the horsy world: how the horse affected history; how we have affected the horse; its portrayal through the centuries and so on.
The early Pony Club Annuals really were things of beauty: the best of the current crop of equine illustrators were commissioned to decorate them. The first annual alone had contributions from Michael Lyne, Joan Wanklyn, Cecil G Trew, Sheila Rose, Peter Biegel, Maurice Tulloch and Marcia Lane Foster.
I just can't see a similar mixture succeeding now, alas. I can't answer for Pony Magazine today, but the general range of girl's magazines available now makes me cringe: daughter was not allowed when she was younger any of the be-your-own-Princess titles, despite her (completely truthful) claims that all her friends had them. Just couldn't do it. It's for the same reason that I disliked the Katie Price pony books and their focus on their protagonists' looks so much: yes, that's going to come. They're going to be obsessed about their looks, but please, spare them for as long as possible.
I bought her Aquila, in the hope that she might be inspired to love facts and finding out stuff as much as her mother. She enjoyed the magazine, but it has of course been superseded by teen magazines. I knew that was going to come, but I think Aquila helped me fight a valiant rearguard action until an in depth feature on what mascara was best did actually become the focus of her world, at least temporarily.
I've written more on Pony Club Annuals in their early years here.