Photos in pony books

Birte sent me this lovely photograph, which is from Golden Gorse's The Young Rider's Picture Book, published by Country Life in 1936. I love the group of Shetlands, with their solid little riders; presumably solid because they were wrapped in so many layers of woollen vests and tweeds. Is anyone else old enough to remember Chilprufe wool vests? These were thick, scratchy vests, made thicker and scratchier if washed at too high a temperature. A few years ago I found one my mother had saved: so I have proof her washing technique, at least when it came to woollen vests, ruthlessly suppressed comfort in the interests of thickness, and presumably warmth. These vests were a stalwart of my childhood, but by the time I started riding I had rebelled and no longer wore them.

Photographs, being of course of real events, transport you much more directly to the past than pictures, which, style of jodphur and total absence of the flash noseband apart, are reasonably timeless. Though thinking about it, the ponies themselves are timeless. A Shetland is a Shetland is a Shetland. The three on the right are having what looks like a fascinating talk, but can I, fan of Animal Magic, constant manufacturer of conversations for the dog to have with my daughter, think what they are saying? I cannot. If you have any ideas, do please say...


haffyfan said…
At a guess they are plotting how to deposit their darlings 'quite by accident' of course. After all shelties are the devil on 4 legs.

Ponies and Caravans (M M Oliver) and Hoofbeats (Peggie Cannam) are other books I like with lovely photos instead of illustrations. As much as I love illustrations in books, photo's do give a more vintage perception and are quite a novelty in a fiction book (Actually are they still classed as fiction if characters/some events are real???).
Not quite the same but I love the fact that there is a photo of Rosina Copper inside the flap on the dust wrapper of the 1st ed too and not just a pic of author.
Bowleserised said…
Haffyfan is right. They'll begin by treading on the feet of the adults nearest to them, then, when instructed to trot on, either accelerate so much that the little dears are jolted off (speed trotting on a shetland being akin to riding a pneumatic drill) or execute the neat "shoulder drop" manoeuvre and deposit 'em on the gravel.

I have a copy of Young Rider from the 1930s which is full of gems. Lovely stuff! Soft felt hats and gaiters and all that.
Jane said…
I think they might be saying "if we all move together as fast as we can we can squash five people at the same time."

Haffyfan is right: Shetlands are the spawn of the devil. We had 2 living here who shared a box. They had a very endearing habit of both charging for the door the moment it opened, and electric fences held no fears for them - if you hit it hard and fast enough it does not hurt.

Bowleserised - yes, I was always glad I learned to ride when I was too big for a Shetland, and so didn't experience the Shetland pneumatic trot.

I hadn't realised Hoofbeats had photos - is that a biographical one or is it a story?
haffyfan said…
I guess it's biographical, it reads as a lovely story but it features the author her friend, Tim, and ponies Sherry and Firefly. All the characters are real and the incidents true, which we are told in a note from the author at the beginning of the book, although she does call it a story herself.
smallbutmighty said…
I think possibly they are planning the demise of the innocent looking grey Welsh pony on the left as he clearly does-not-fit-in. Far too sweet looking. Can't possiby be allowed to be in The Gang.
Jane said…
I'll have to actually read Hoofbeats when next I get a copy in!

Now you point it out SbutM, you're right. The Welshie won't last long.

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