|Harrap, 1965, 1st edn, illus Michael Lyne|
|Fidra Books, pb, 2009|
Easter has ability in spades, but for Ann to make her into a serious show jumper is going to take Herculean efforts. Easter is unpredictable; often jumping, but just as often refusing or bolting. She's not the only equine problem: there's Magic the Shetland, the mount of Ann and Jim's nephew. He's a demon for opening gates and he lets out the prize colt, Night Storm.
I loved the series when I first found them in the local library. They were filed with the horsey non fiction: I assume because they are relatively realistic portrayals of different equine disciplines. H M Peel uses the Leysham Stud series to cover racing, polo, trotting and eventing as well as show jumping: a wealth of ability most studs would give their eye teeth to possess. H M Peel had a background herself in numerous disciplines. In my interview with her, I asked how difficult it had been to reasearch the series:
“Piece of cake because I had already worked in a variety of stables ranging from hunters, livery, point-to-point and show jumpers: too heavy for racing stables. I kept moving around to acquire knowledge even if it was the hard way and I was treated pretty badly in quite a few of my digs.”The central characters, Ann and Jim Henderson are portrayed as pretty well ideal employers, a world away from the treatment HM Peel hinted at in the first comment. I asked her to tell me more about what it had been like working in the horse world after the war:
“My first horsey job at 15 years was at some livery stables near Grimsby where I had the most incredible tutor who was stone deaf. This lady and her livery stables became ever afterwards my bench mark. I was badly treated in my digs; kept so short of food (everything was still rationed) I was driven to trying to eat the horses’ food. Ever been that hungry and when growing and doing hard, physical labour? I vowed I would never be hungry again when adult and no one, NO ONE, would ever shove me around. They haven’t either.”When I interviewed her, I asked H M Peel if the Hendersons were based on real people:
“My human characters are all invented. Safer that way re litigation!”Sadly, although Easter is reasonably easy to find as Fidra reprinted it, the rest of the series is monstrously difficult to find.
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