Belinda Rapley - The Pony Detectives
Templar Publishing, £4.99
Pony Detectives website
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy of this book.
Belinda Rapley is a qualified riding instructor, so knows what she's talking about. This leads to the occasional blip in the flow of the book, where she explains a technicality perhaps a little over-carefully, but this is a decently written pony story, mercifully free of bling and sparkles. It's part of a four book series; book two is also out now.
The Pony Detectives are four girls: Alice, Mia, Rosie and Charlie, who all keep their ponies at the farm where Rosie lives. There's just the four of them there (it sounds like the yard from Heaven), and the girls have formed a close friendship. The book opens with only a few days to go until the Fratton Show, a major local event, for which all the girls have entered. Alice is almost paralysed with nerves: although a capable rider, she freezes in the ring. Mia is confident; on her spell-bindingly beautiful pony she knows the showing class is almost certain to be hers. Charlie and Rosie are entering for the fun of it.
The adventure starts when the famous jumping pony, Moonlight, is stolen. The Fratton Cup was within his owner's grasp (she's already won it twice), and she is devastated by the loss of her pony. The four friends decide to try and find him. He is kept in a yard that is so out of the way, the girls are convinced the thief must be local. The mystery deepens, and the girls gallop off down a blind alley, before resolutions of all sorts happen at the Fratton Show.
There are no great surprises in this book, but it's well-written, with likeable characters who don't take themselves too seriously. The ponies are well done too. The author has the knack of getting under a pony's skin and there are some robust pony characters here. If you want a straight-down-the-line pony book which bangs no fashionable drums, but just gets on with telling a decent story, this is the book for you.