Wednesday, 7 May 2014

PBOTD 7th May: Gillian Baxter - The Perfect Horse

It's the start of Badminton Horse Trials today, and of course they've featured in several pony books. One of the earliest (if not the earliest) is Gillian Baxter's The Perfect Horse . This is the third book in the Bracken Stables series. The stables have now recovered from the fire, and Bobby and Guy's relationship is established.

Evans, 1963, 1st edn, illus Ivan Lapper
In the first book, Jump to the Stars (1957), we meet Bobby's cousin, Ellen, cowed by her ghastly mother, and happy to go along with the snobbery endemic at the smart boarding school the girls are sent to. It's a surprise to Bobby when Ellen buys a horse, and not just any horse. Minos can do anything he turns his hoof too. He's a shoo-in for Badminton, but try as she might, Bobby can't see Ellen ever entering a competition so daunting.

Dragon, pb, 1967 (abridged) cover Mary Gernat
Bobby's right, because Ellen has bought the horse in order to impress a man she's keen on. Fortunately she doesn't go through with her plan, but the horse is still entered, and so Bobby gets the ride. Minos is indeed perfect: but there's a flip side to a horse that never puts a foot wrong. What happens when something does go wrong? How do you cope when you've never learned to cope with failure? Bobby finds out at Badminton.

Dragon, pb, 1978

The book's a great read. Be warned though if you buy the paperback edition: it is abridged, as it appears are all the Dragon paperbacks.

Badminton Horse Trials
More on Gillian Baxter's books
My interview with Gillian Baxter






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