Showing posts from June, 2011

The exam season part 2

If you managed to negotiate part one of the be-your-own-pony-book-hero exam, here is part 2. Probability Paper A. Rank the following outcomes in order of probability, showing your working: An evil tempered stallion has entered the yard: a.  The livery yard owner warns you against going anywhere near the horse.  So you don’t. b.  You creep up to the yard in the dead of night and sneak into the evil stallion’s box to lay soft hands on his neck.  You know the two of you have a special connection. c.  After much struggle, you and you alone rescue the evil stallion, but it will take you at least 12 books before you have any sort of connection.   d.  The evil stallion is to be put down as he is Beyond Saving.  You and your friends come up with a cunning plan to save him. B. Work out, using examples, the probability of the following appearing in a book published during the last ten years: a.  Unicorns b.  Mythical sky ponies c.  Parelli/natural horsemanship/TT/equine yoga d.  You

War Horse - the Film

I would have to be manacled to my desk to keep me from going to see this, but I wonder how Spielberg has dealt with the fact it's the horse who is the narrator, as it's not immediately apparent from the trailer.  Maybe that's deliberate?

Mary Stewart giveaway

Hodder and Stoughton have done a glam re-issue of Mary Stewart's books (at last).  I like these.  They're the right side of glamorous, without being annoyingly and self-consciously "vintage".  All Stewart's heroines had  those tiny waists, as well of course as oodles of inner strength and resourcefulness. And for those wondering if I can go a whole entire blog post without mentioning the horse, she did of course write the Lipizzaner adventure Airs Above the Ground . If you fancy winning the title of your choice from the re-issues (and I do) go on over to the Brown Paper blog , where you can enter a giveaway to win the Mary Stewart of your choice.  I've gone for The Crystal Cave, which I can remember getting out of the library and lugging to school.  

The exam season

Daughter has gone off to do her latest GCSE science module exams today, with our big question of the day being "Can you resit a resit?" Answer comes there none. For those of us for whom the exam season is a thankfully far distant memory, but who yearn to share their offspring's pain, or revisit their revision-strewn youth, here is an entrance exam to the world of the pony book. English A.  What part should poetry play in the fully rounded pony book hero’s life? 1.  You quote poetry in a dashing way as you sweep around the countryside on your pony – you thrill to the way the cadence of the words matches the rhythm of your pony’s movement. 2.  You have learned by heart John Betjeman's Hunter Trials , and that will do nicely, thank you very much. 3.  What is poetry? B.  You have gone to visit a cousin.  She thoughtfully puts out a selection of literature on the bedside table for you.  What would your ideal selection be? 1.  School stories.  Not your cup of te

Lavender path


More on that hat

The filly-in-the hat I blogged about a couple of days ago is a real life racehorse.  I had wondered if she was photoshopped but due to not reading Horse and Hound closely enough last month I entirely missed the fact that Ambers is a 2 year old filly owned by Fox's Biscuits, and she is going to star in an advertising campaign for their biscuits later on this year.  In fact, she might be starring in it already .   I must a. pay more attention to Horse and Hound and not just read the horses for sale ads at the back and daydream and b. not switch off brain when the tv advertisements come on. I had quite hoped there would be something about milliner Stephen Jones' foray into equestrian design on his website, but alas no, possibly in my opinion as a keen observer of fashion because Amber's hat doesn't fit into his Spring/Summer 2011 theme, which is  drifting and dreaming .  Definitely has the colour block thing covered though - the hat is the sort of technicolour dream


Last week we had a bee swarm.  A few days ago my daughter came in and said that we had bees flying around the north wall of the house, which I took I must admit not a lot of notice of, as we always have a lot of bees about.   Those bees have now taken advantage of our complete failure to do anything about our dodgy pointing and made themselves at home in the wall. So far we have not much in the way of encounters with the bees, though when I went out to the bins, which are round that side of the house, a little cloud of bees flew down to have a look at me, and then swept back up again, which was momentarily disconcerting.  I was glad I was not Pooh Bear and holding honey. Alas they are far too high up for me to do anything about collecting the honey, which is a shame, as I am very partial to honey  If I am honest I have not the faintest clue of how to start collecting honey, though dismantling the house wall to get at it probably wouldn't be a good first step, and one tricky to exp

Bookselling bits

On a listing on ABE for Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven: "Don't forget that buying this book means my Jack Russells get their supper!" And I have wondered over the years exactly how the industrial booksellers work.  There is one similarity between us that might not occur to you straightaway:  central heating obviously isn't an issue in the warehouse, and it doesn't tend to be much here either so I can sympathise with the workers in their coats .


Well why not ?

The to-be-reviewed pile

Well, there it is.  It is all my own fault that I am feeling vaguely depressed about it, as I thought I'd really made an impact on the pile recently.  Actually no, it's all Juxtabook's fault , as she posted recently on some of the books on her mantelpiece; a pile she's not yet read.  Ooh, I thought, I should get my to-be-reviewed pile together.  That might be quite interesting, and as the pile is not too frightening at the moment it might be cheering.  Progress is always cheering, particularly when I can see by the size of the pile just how well I am doing.  Alas there is a major difference between books which exist in a theoretical pile in my mind, and books which exist in solid piles on my bookshelves.   The theoretical piles are small, shy little things, skittering around behind the need to get the book orders out, catalogue the new stock and get down all the admin tasks that are the lot of the self-employed.  Well, I've now ensured they're actual and not th

I want

an Eco Pony .

Responding to comments

I haven't posted for some days this week for family reasons.  The next few days' posts are all ones I've written in advance, and then scheduled over the next few days.  It's highly likely I won't be able to respond to any comments, so I apologise in advance.  I am not ignoring you.

A revolution...

in the world of racing silks, notoriously one where patterns are of a strictly plain variety; the spot and the stripe holding sway.   Racing for Change  ran a competition recently for students at Central St Martin's, in which the brief was to design revolutionary new colours.   Henry Griffin it was who won it, with fruit machine designs, and his colours will appear in all their glory at the first race at Ascot on 9th July. I think we can probably consider ourselves blessed that Cath Kidston designs aren't "vibrant and easily identifiable", otherwise I bet some owner would make an essay at those.

Top posts

One of the useful things about Blogger is the stats.  Below is the list of my most popular posts.  I'm slightly depressed by the fact that my two most popular reviews by far are the ones in which I have spread myself somewhat on the book's failings.  It is much easier to be snarky, I find, than to write a really good, positive review.  The position of  War Horse  (which is a positive review) in the stats is more likely to be because of its current mighty popularity as a play. The one post whose position in the top five really mystifies me is  The Way Things Were:  Pony Magazine in the 1960s,  which is a look back at riding clothes adverts and the beauties of the 1960s jodphur .   The stats aren't precise enough for me to work out quite how people find that post, but I'd love to know why it's stayed so popular.   Lauren Brooke: Heartland 19 Sep 2008, 13 comments 1,276  Pageviews Thelwell 29 Jul 2010, 1 comment 738  Pageviews The Way Things W

The beauty of old documents

If I were a more devoted historian I would do a much longer post on this, but this is a quick skim sort of post.  Recently I was shown this conveyance, in which  Richard Goodwin, yeoman, appears to be selling most of the village of Irchester to Thomas Ekins, of Chester (which in this case I think refers to nearby Chester House, not Chester in Cheshire).   Whether or not this conveyance includes our house and the land that was once associated with it is debatable.  The document mentions "All that messuage or tenement lying next the churchyard in Irchester..." We do know that the farm once stretched down to the Wellingborough Road, which would certainly include the land mentioned above.  We haven't traced the ownership of the house as far back as 1698, which is when the document is dated, but Richard Goodwin and Thomas Ekins look like possible owners, though it's more likely that Thomas Ekins owned the house rather than lived in it himself.  Besides the historical int

Steptoe rides again?

I was in Birmingham last weekend, sitting in a garden, when I heard a terrible wailing from the street outside.  The people I was with were vaguely irritated, but not at all alarmed.  They saw my puzzled face, and explained the noise was the trumpet the rag and bone man blew.  He was a regular, and not a popular, visitor.  He had a van, not a horse.  Maybe that was where he was going wrong. There was recent article in the Daily Express which extolled the benefits of the resurgent rag and bone man with horse; the horse apparently encouraging people to recycle  in France.  Maybe someone should give Mr Birmingham Rag-and-Bone a copy of the article.  Charm might be the way to go. Thanks to Rosemary Hall for telling me about this.

World Horse Welfare in the Highlands

I blogged earlier about World Horse Welfare's plans to round up a herd of semi-feral horses in Scotland.  Here's what happened.

Pippa Funnell: Tilly's Pony Tails 11-13

Pippa Funnell:  Moonshadow the Derby Winner, Autumn Glory, Goliath the Rescue Horse Orion, £4.99 each Tilly's Pony Tails Annual 2011 Orion, 2010 The Tilly's Pony Tails website Thank you to Orion for sending me these books. I haven't read any of the Tilly's Pony Tails series since the first one , and the series has been growing apace since then, with 3 more titles due this year. The series is about heroine Tilly Redbrow, who "lives, breathes and dreams" horses.  She has a special way of communicating with horses:  she knows what they're feeling.  The series is about Tilly's adventures with her own horse, Magic, and the horses who go through the Silver Shoes Stables. The books aren't hugely strong on plot:  the title Autumn Glory the New Horse does rather give away the fact that poor ponyless Mia does get a new horse, as does Goliath the Rescue Horse  leave you in no doubt that the skewbald heavy horse found in an emaciated condition will

The Cadogan Riding School and the Second World War

I wrote a while back about the fate of the Cadogan Riding School in the Second World War, and had thought that its destruction was a terrible tragedy, but this wasn’t owner Horace Smith’s attitude at all.   The War came, he said, when there was a 'very bad depression' in the horse world, affecting both Cadogan's dealing and riding school businesses.   Their outgoings in 1939 were very high indeed; they had 250 horses, a large staff and high overheads.   The outbreak of war was actually a help as the Government bought nearly all their horses, though Cadogan lost money on them.   Unlike those owners Josephine Pullein-Thompson described, who shot their horses rather than see them taken for military service, Horace Smith made active efforts to shift his. Each county had a different purchasing officer, and if a certain officer cast any of my horses for some small reason – such as their being either too small, or too big – I sent them into another county for inspection by a


I'm not quick at going with new technological developments, I must admit.  My mobile is of the strictly pared down variety.  It telephones.  It texts.  And that's about it.  Oh, and I can play Sudoku on it as well. However, if you have a more advanced phone my blog now has a mobile version, so you should be able to read it on your phone easily.  If you do happen to look at this blog on your mobile, I'd love to know if you think it works OK.

The Fifty Pony Books You Must Read

Or maybe not.  Michael Gove has suggested that children should be reading 50 books a year .  Being prescriptive about it is tricky.  I have two children, both of whom were read to every day, both of whom were taken to  libraries and book shops (often these were secondhand bookshops, where I used to park them with a Beano album while I searched the shelves), have a house full of books and bookish parents.   One reads endlessly.  One doesn't. If your child has an obsession about something, that could be a help.   If your child is a pony obsessive, here is the list that's come out of a recent discussion on my forum .  The brief was that a child should also be able to read complete rubbish, but the list has tended towards the better efforts in the pony book genre, rather than the drivel.  Bearing in mind the age of my forum (ie adult) it's perhaps not a surprise that many of the books were ones from our own childhood.  A good proportion of the books are still in print, and I&

Bookselling mistakes

I've managed to survive as a profit-making bookseller for some years now, but not without the odd self-inflicted wound.  Of course I may well be inflicting others on myself even as I write, but I haven't yet realised what they are. Overpaying for books does not help your profit margin As I deal in the books I like to read myself, occasionally I get carried away because I see a book and I want it myself.  My most spectacular effort in this direction was a  copy of J A Allen's reprint of Stubbs' The Anatomy of the Horse. The seller no sooner mentioned it on the phone than I was practically biting her hand off; offered her far too much, and realised as soon the book arrived and I had come down off my cloud of excitement at seeing the book for the first time that no way was I going to make anything on it.  I didn't.  I had the book hanging around for 2 years because I was desperately hoping to sell it at the top of its price range.  I eventually decided that hey, may

Review: K M Peyton - Paradise House

K M Peyton - Paradise House Scholastic Books, £5.99 K M Peyton's website Beware - contains spoilers! Paradise House sees K M Peyton sticking to the historical novel genre she's followed for the last few years. Aimed at a younger readership than her Small Gains series, this story is set in (I think) Victorian England, with all the social constrictions that that implies. People moved in stratified social circles, but the one thing common to all was the horror of illegitimacy. Alice, the 11 year old heroine of the novel, is, it turns out, illegitimate. When the novel opens she is living a life of cloistered strictness.  No one appears to like her much; she has no friends apart from Robin, the groom's son. Her father is remote and unfeeling. Her mother died when Alice was little. We don't know when the novel opens that Alice is illegitimate, and neither does she. This could have been a very bleak novel indeed, given how illegitimacy was viewed. I do wonder, if K

New pony book releases - June

Here's a round up of the pony book releases I know about for June. Babette Cole - The Enchanted Pony, The Curse of the Pony Vampires The next two in Babette Cole’s Fetlock Hall series are out in June.  Penny Simms continues her adventures at boarding school Fetlocks Hall, fighting against the evil Devilpeds.  Vampires finally make their way into a pony book in The Curse of the Pony Vampires .  It was only a matter of time.  Bloomsbury Publishing, £5.99. Monica Dickens - Dora at Follyfoot Andersen Publishing have the next Follyfoot episode out this month.  £4.99. Patricia Leitch - Gallop to the Hills The next Jinny re-issue is out this month, as Catnip continue their lovely series of reprints.  £5.99. Stacy Gregg - Nightstorm and the Grand Slam The 12th in the Pony Club Secrets series is due out this month.  This lengthy series is nearing completion now.  HarperCollins, £5.99. Alison Lester - Noni the Pony Excellent Australian author Alison Lester has a new picture


If you work in the retail trade, the customer whose connection with the real world is iffy at best will not be news to you.  Jen Campbell works in a bookshop, and she writes here about some of her more memorable customers. I don't get a lot of direct customer contact, being an internet seller, but my particular favourite variation of this is the person who contacts me wanting to sell me books.  When the email starts off by stating the seller has already looked up their books on Abe/Ebay/Amazon (subtext so DON'T  YOU DARE ROOK ME, you evil grasping witch), my heart sinks.  If they follow it up with a list of the prices they want for their books, all of which are taken from the least reasonable end of the spectrum, I know there is no hope.  If the absolute top price for a book is, say, £50 for a pretty decent copy, then I, who earn my living from selling books, am not going to pay £50 for a frankly rather tatty one.  I wouldn't pay £50 for a pretty decent one, as that's

Reining - is this abuse?

Craig Schmersal is a member of the USA Reining Team.  He (and other reiners) were recently filmed by Epona TV.  Have a look at Susannah Forrest's post setting out what went on .

Review: Jane Smiley - Secret Horse

Jane Smiley – Secret Horse Faber & Faber, 2011, £6.99 Jane Smiley’s website Thank you to Faber for sending me a copy of this book. Secret Horse is the sequel to Nobody’s Horse, which I reviewed last year .  Abby’s father is still horse dealing; Abby’s still at school and working with the horses in what passes for her spare time.  The major difference between this book and the first volume is the relative serenity of it all.  In the first book, Abby had problems.  School was difficult, to say the least.  Here she remains the detached, slightly passive girl she was in Nobody’s Horse, but there is far less exploration of the family dynamics and friendship difficulties in this novel:  the assumption seems to be that we’ve read the first book and therefore understand about the family and their faith, and how they operate, and Abby seems to have reached a harbour where she's accepted what is going on in her life.  There’s almost no family angst in this sequel, and Abby seems to

I have wondered for a while now who nabbed, and now I know.  Angela Dorsey, author of a couple of lengthy pony series for Stabenfeldt, has branched out into publishing.  As well producing her own books, Enchanted Pony Books is looking to publish new work.  So, aspiring pony book authors, this might be your chance .