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Showing posts from January, 2011

Jill and the bay Danny Boy

Jill Crewe's pony, Black Boy, was renamed Danny Boy in one of the 1960s paperback reprints (Knight's).  I thought that was the one and only time Danny Boy reared his head, but no.  Dorling Kindersley published Classic Horse and Pony Stories  in 1999, the selection being made by Diana Pullein-Thompson, in which the final chapter of Jill's Gymkhana appears.  The use of Danny Boy explains why Neal Puddephatt has drawn Black Boy as bay.
I'm not aware of any other story collections in which Jill makes an appearance.  If anyone does, please let me know.

Early horse toys - Steiff

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Whilst rummaging around in the Gammages' Christmas catalogue for 1913, I came across these splendid creatures:


Gammages generally went more for the value than the prestige end of the market, but on his travels to find new stock, Arthur Gammage soon realised the magnetic attraction the Steiff output had for children (and their parents), and the 1913 catalogue contains 4 pages of them.  "We have again secured the largest possible variety of STEIFF'S TOYS, anticipating a greater demand than ever," said the catalogue.
If you bought a creature over 17 inches tall, it came with an automatic "animal" voice.   I heard one on the Antiques Roadshow a while back, though I think the animal was a bear rather than a horse.  The voice sounded more like a strangulated mouse squeak than a bear, but then when I am nearly 100 years old I don't suppose I shall sound particularly robust either.  Both these toys, I think, are glorious, and are considerably better than Buttersc…

Driving more than one horse

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I don't imagine for one second that Jake Posey ever had one of these driving toys, which look to have been the preserve of the tidily dressed middle classes rather than agricultural America, but who knows?  Maybe he did have one of these, the four horse model of which cost the equivalent of £145, and it fired his enthusiasm. 
The advertisement below comes from Gamages' Christmas Catalogue from 1913. Gamages was a vast department store in Holborn, London.  Its boast was that it was the Peoples' Emporium, stocking absolutely everything you could possibly want; available at the store or via post (though not; thankfully, ammunition: you had to go to the store for that.)  Gamages catered to a different market from the like of Harrods and Whiteleys - more City worker than carriage trade.  The workers' families were not forgotten.  Gamages had an epic toy department:  looking through the catalogue today (the facsimile edition, published by David and Charles in 1974, with an in…

Dick Sparrow - 40 Horse Hitch, and Neil Dimmock's 46 Percherons

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Here's a clip of Dick Sparrow driving 40 horses. It's an amazing sight, particularly when the shot changes to show the team from the rear and you get the great incongruity of modern American corporate architecture as a background to the wagon and horses. I love the anticipation in the video: the sense of something amazing being just round the corner is palpable.



Thanks to Christina Wilsdon for telling me about this world record 46 Percheron hitch (alas just stills) but you get the idea.

More on the 40 horse team

I've been doing a bit more research on the 40 horse team ( you knew I couldn't leave it alone, didn't you).  It was, according to an article in Billboard Magazine, June 28, 1952, driven by Jake Posey.  He did not stop at 40 horses:  he managed 52.  Jake Posey was boss hostler for the American Ben Wallace Circus, and had worked for Mr Bailey of Barnum and Bailey's circus in 1896, before the circus left for Europe.  Jake Posey was contacted by Mr Bailey and asked if he could drive a 40 horse team.  He thought he could, and moved to England.  He practised first by driving 12 horses, and adding 4 each time.   He managed to get up to 40, and drove in the parade in Birmingham.

To get over the problem of driving round corners when you could not actually see the lead horses, the boss hostler would ride ahead, station himself at the turn, and let Posey know what was going on.  All went well until King's Lynn, whose narrow streets were tricky for a normal setup, let alone 40…

A Forty Horse Team

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Filled my car up recently; a deeply painful experience.  I was cheered to learn on watching one of those life-in-the-police programmes last week that my car is so old (M reg) that the mere sight of it automatically makes the police get their judgey pants on and assume that if you are running an old banger you are unlikely to a. insure it or b. mot it so they put you through the computer as soon as they spot you.  Fail to see why I should get a new car when this one runs perfectly well despite its vast age (am hoping now that hubris does not hit me) though car does drink petrol at quite a rate.  Not entirely certain that running a horse and trap would be any cheaper, particularly not the 40 strong team below - so vast not all of it could fit in the photograph.
Barnum's Circus would have one man driving 40 horses with the band wagon leading the circus procession round the town.  Goodness knows how the driver managed the reins when negotiating corners.  W Theobald, of Cheltenham, who …

Will it come to this?

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Wartime readers of Riding were told, in the July-September number of 1943, that it was never too late to mend anything - not even your corsets.  I cannot imagine that anyone wore a corset while riding (though thinking about it, those tiny waists on dashing sidesaddle ladies of the previous century had to be created somehow - but during the War?)

Buckeye and other statues

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I loved this post by Christina Wilsdon about Buckeye the Iron Horse, who lives in America.  The nearest equivalent we have here is the Milton Keynes cows.  I think I prefer Buckeye.  Thinking of him does remind me of this picture, of equine statues evacuated from London during the war.



I know that works of art ended up in odd places such as mines, but I hadn't realised statues had been moved too.  Quite what I thought had happened I don't know - I suppose if I'd given it any thought, I would have supposed the statues were far too awkward to move, and what we see in London nowadays just happened to escape the bombs.  Riding is obviously mum on the subject of where the statues are; but apparently Berkhamsted Castle was their wartime home.

The statues are (left to right) George III, of Cockspur Street, William III and Sir Garnet Wolseley.  George III is here, reinistated.  Sir Garnet is on Horse Guards Parade, and William III in St James' Square.

Saddlery as it was

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I found the advertisement below in a 1938 copy of Riding. I always liked the idea of the child's skeepskin saddle.  As far as I know, I don't think there's an equivalent now, though you can buy a sheepskin seat saver.   A quick google found the Inkydinky, the basket saddle de nos jours. 
In my riding school days in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the ponies had a serge lined saddle, which there was a positive stampede not to clean.  Being often away in a dream, I often lost the fight and had to clean it.  The serge lining was monstrous: smelly and stained, and I never worked out a good method of doing anything with it other than assaulting it with a dandy brush.  





The early Children's Horse Show

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Anyone who's read Diana Pullein-Thompson's I Wanted a Pony will remember Augusta going to see her cousins ride in a show, "a very posh affair with expensive cups, presented by rich and well-known people."  Augusta has to watch the show with her aunt, from the car, which is parked by the ringside.  Augusta escapes from the stuffy car, to her Aunt's ire:  "Aunt Margaret... said that I was a queer little girl - standing amongst the crowd with the sun in my eyes, when I could be sitting in the car for which she had paid five shillings to park at the ringside." 
The show, in fact, sounds rather like the Fifth All-Children's Blairavon Pony Show, for which I have an immaculate and beautiful schedule, preserved in the pages of a Riding magazine from 1938.  Here it is:








Edith Reynolds Model Horses

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This post follows on from earlier blog posts I did which featured the Edith Reynolds model horses:


Model horses in the 1950sModel ponies.

Here are a few more advertisements for the Edith Reynolds model horses.




These were expensive little toys. It's not easy to do a direct price comparison, but I'll have a go. Riding Magazine was priced at 1/- in 1938, which is when these advertisements were published. Horse and Hound now costs £2.40. If you assume an equivalence in price, that makes the huntsman, rider, tack and hounds come out at nearly £137.00. The 8 guinea setup comes out at around £400. Looking around, that's not too far off today's Equorum or Julip Originals models.

I'm fascinated by the variation in size of the horses here. Perhaps the horses came in different scales.


Many thanks too to Randi Risolio who sent me a photograph of an Edith Reynolds horse, rider and tack found at an estate sale.



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I try and do Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals

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In common with the rest of the English speaking world, I got Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals for Christmas.  I sat down and read my way through it, because I get easily bored cooking, and like new recipes otherwise I find it only too easy to get into a rut of the same few things that I can cook in 15 minutes without engaging my brain.  Producing a whole load of stuff in 30 minutes is a brilliant concept, and Jamie has done the thinking and planning for you.  The recipes read beautifully (though he obviously has a family infinitely easier to feed than mine).



After I'd sat there for a couple of hours reading Jamie, I engaged my brain, stopped wallowing in the deliciousness of my imaginings, and thought about, what, practically, these recipes were going to involve.  Jamie does say in the beginning that at first you might take longer than 30 mins, and leave the kitchen looking like a bombsite.  Now I am not slow as a cook:  year after year of short order cooking when I have worked…

Ponies for Children: Margaret Williamson

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Nowadays, publishing a book with a cover like this would get you a flaming on Fugly, to say the least.  In 1939, Country Life's publication of Margaret Williamson's Ponies for Children was reviewed in Riding Magazine thus:

"This is a useful book for that patient, and often harassed person, the parent of the child who rides, or wants to ride, a pony....  The book may seem on the short side; but on the other hand it is full of good, sound, easily accessible information, without any padding."







Christmas Competition - the winners

Very many congratulations to the winners:

Anabella, with a staggering 96 out of 100 Garnet, with 86 and Valerie Amis with 83 1/2 
For those of you still chewing the carpet with frustration, the answers to the quiz are here.

January Sale - Children's Books

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For the whole of January, I'm doing 20% off all non-pony children's books.  There's no minimum spend.  My children's stock tends to reflect what I enjoyed reading myself as a child, so there's a fair number of classic Puffins.  I was very fond of the Puffin Picture series, and there's several of these still available, including A Book of Swimming, down from £10 to £8.

I think Kaye Webb and her predecessor, Eleanor Graham, were supreme choosers of children's books:  even now, if I want to read a vintage children's book, I will tend to pick a Puffin as I know I will enjoy it.  I have a particularly soft spot for the classic covers of the 1950s:





Columbus Sails is 80p, down from £1.00, and Fell Farm Campers is £4.00, down from £5.00.  There's plenty of more modern Puffins too, like Elizabeth Enright's The Saturdays (£2.40, down from £3.00) and Brian Fairfax Lucy's excellent Children of the House (£0.80).



I still like historical stories now, and wa…

Happy New Year 2011

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I hope the New Year brings you some of the books you hanker after (all would leave us nothing to look forward to, and what is life without something to look forward to); health, happiness and perhaps horses.

My one and only resolution last year was to review more books.  I have an uneasy feeling I didn't manage to review more books in 2010 than I did in 2009, but frankly the desire to fossick about in the depths of the blog and check the statistics is not with me.  As ever, I feel I Can Do Better.

My life seems to be a constant procession of things left undone, but now I am pushing on a bit, I know I just have to settle for the odd thing achieved here and there, however long it takes.  One of these came about because our last minute change of plan for Christmas dinner (turkey instead of venison stew) meant there had to be some serious work done in our very small freezer to find space for the meat we needed to freeze.  So, at last, I have done something with last year's (and by…