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|Thames Publishing, 1952, 1st edition|
|Dean, 1978, retold|
Today's pony book was written by an author who had four books under her belt by her mid teens: they were written between the ages of 12 and 15. A Pony and His Partner, the first of them, was published in 1959. The books are much darker than the usual teenage pony book. Death and disaster stalk the books, but the heroines always win through in the end.
|Burke, 1959, 1st edn, illus Geoffrey Whittam|
|The Dial Press, 1961, 1st edition|
|Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1930, 1st edn, illus Cecil Aldin|
|Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1949|
|Heinemann, 1973, 1st edition|
|Pan, paperback, 1975|
|Hutchinson, 1963, 1st edn, illus Victor Ambrus|
|Peacock, 1965, paperback|
|Heinemann, 1st edition, 1970|
|Pan, paperback, 1972|
|Dutton, New York, 1957, 1st edn, illus Ronnie Mutch|
|Dent, London, 1959, illus Ronnie Mutch|
|Armada 1st edition, 1982|
|Severn House, hb, 1986|
“She looked up out of the window again. Keziah was tall and stately, the robes she wore about her shoulders trailed to the ground. She rode a white mare, proud-stepping with eye imperial and cascading mane and tail. A handmaiden walked by her side, and a page boy walked at the head of her palfrey. All the fairytales Jinny had ever read, all the illustrations she had ever seen of queens upon white horses, or wise women, or elfin lands, took hands and danced in Jinny’s sight. She watched spellbound.
For a minute they dropped out of sight as the track looped downhill and when they reappeared the spell was broken.”It is not just the skins of the aged Jinny, and we, need to learn to see beneath. There is Miss Tuke, the generally dismissive owner of the local trekking centre, who sets about the owner of the pathetic riding school. Brenda, who runs the riding school, once had dreams herself, but has been utterly ground down by life.
“For a moment before Brenda turned away she smiled at Jinny, her mask drawn back, and, for a second, Jinny saw quite clearly the girl who had once shared her dreams.”When Kezia’s death comes, Patricia Leitch meets it head on. There is no “passing away”, or even the dreadful modern “passing” (passing away-light? Is one only half dead?).
“Easter came slowly towards them. She reached out her head and breathed over Jinny’s tear-stained face, exchanged curious questioning breath with Shantih, then stood waiting.
‘Keziah’s dead,” said Jinny bleakly. She’s gone. No more. Dead.’This is a brilliant book; in which every time I read it, I see different things. There is Jinny herself, meeting life head on; flawed and intolerant but fighting her way towards understanding the world and how it works; “the right thing to do.” There is the glorious mixture of myth and faith: the Red Horse, personification of the horse goddess Epona, and the unspoken communication between human and horse.
“Jinny felt her drop behind the bit, her weight sink back on her hindlegs as she reared, struck out with her forefeet, then with an enormous bound was galloping up the track to the moor.
Shantih was all captured things flying free, was spirit loosened from flesh, was bird again in her own element.”
|Catnip, 2012, pb|
|Harrap, 1965, 1st edn, illus Michael Lyne|
|Fidra Books, pb, 2009|
“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.
|Harrap, 1959, 1st edn, illus Sheila Rose|
‘ “You thought she was dead? It almost seems like it sometimes,” said Geoffrey, so quietly that John could hardly hear."
|Blackie, 1960, illus Joan Thompson|
|Blackie, 1965, cover Harry Green|
|Armada, 1989 1st edition|
|Armada, 1989 1st edition|
|Collins, 1955, 1st edn, illus Sheila Rose|
|Armada paperback, 1969|
|Collins Seagull, 1963|
|Collins Pony Library, 1974|
|Armada pb, 1980s?|
|Armada paperback, 1981|
|Collins, 1949, 1st edition|
|Armada paperback 1964, cover Peter Archer|
|Armada paperback 1964, cover Peter Archer, variant edition|
|Collins, 1944, 1st edn, illus Rosemary Robertson|
|Collins, 1960s reprint|