PBOTD: January 14th, Judith M Berrisford - Jackie Won a Pony

Today's pony book is the start of a classic pony book series: Judith M Berrisford's Jackie. The Jackie series was phenomenally popular, and stayed in print until the early years of this century.  I had the Armada edition below, and although I can't say I found Jackie the most sympathetic of characters, that didn't stop me reading the book until it was nearly falling apart, for Jackie achieved in the first pages of the book what I most wanted: she got a pony, because she won a competition.

Armada paperback, 1970s
You can still find the odd win-a-pony competition, but there were many more of them in the 1960s and 1970s. PONY Magazine ran them in the early 1950s, before deciding that it was best to concentrate on prizes that weren't alive. Dragon Books ran a competition to coincide with their publication of Mary O'Hara's My Friend Flicka, and Evans ran one when they published Kathleen Mackenzie's Prize Pony. Imagine the misery of buying either of these books, finding out there was a competition, and then realising that the closing date was long past.

The competition that I longed to enter (I was never allowed to) was run by booksellers W H Smith. At competition time, a leaflet would arrive in PONY Magazine, and I would drool over it, filling in the answers, and pummelling my brains for a witty caption for the photograph which would act as the tie breaker, just in case, by some miracle, I was allowed to enter. I never was.

Hodder & Stoughton first edition, 1958,
illustrated Geoffrey Whittam
No such problems for our heroine Jackie though: within the first few paragraphs, she's won the pony, done and dusted. No agonising for her: at least not then. Unfortunately, when Jackie gets her pony (a grey Welsh mare called Misty she finds pulling a cart) she finds that the people to whom her family home is rented out have filled the place with ponies, and there's nowhere for Misty to go. Rather than give Misty back, Jackie sets off to ride to a relative who has land. She's accompanied, after a day of solitary freedom, by her cousin Babs, and a horse she's taken from its field so it shan't be sold.

Babs goes on to accompany Jackie through fifteen more adventures, but you can't deny she's a liability on this one. As she's actually stolen Captain, the two are of course pursued, and so Jackie's country ride turns out to be an attempt to evade the police. It does, of course, all work out in the end, for Jackie's world was one filled with things pony where disaster was inconceivable.

These books do inspire me to scratchiness, and I did lay into the author in my book, Heroines on Horseback, but I'll leave off for this post, and let Jackie and Babs and their ponies wander through their pony-filled world where no one ages.

Knight paperback, 1992

Read more about the author here.


I entered the WH Smith competition. I had the perfect plan, as I knew I was going to win. The pony would be called Trixie, and I would keep her at my grandparents' house in Kent (I lived in London). Alas, there was a terrible mistake, and the letter saying I'd won never arrived.
I am still waiting to hear from the Revell model company, as I bought one of their model kits in the early 1970s and it contained a "win an Arabian" contest. All you had to do was write, in 100 words, why you wanted a horse. Which I did. And then wore my parents down for months as I waxed on about where it would live and what I would name it.

I did build the model horse, though, with the help of a model-kit-building expert older brother. I spent hours putting it together amidst airplane-glue fumes. It came out quite well, though the mane never would lie flat, so until I roached it, the horse had a huge mohawk along its crest.
Jane Badger said…
They just didn't appreciate what they'd got, these companies offering ponies. If only they'd found some way to harness all that fire....

I love the sound of the model horse and am off to google him now.
Unknown said…
I did enter a raffle for a pony at an agricultural show once, I remember a girl riding it around, she wore a sash that said "Prize Pony", it was a grey. Needless to add I didn't win, though I was lucky enough to get my own pony a few years later.
I am glad the fashion for live animal prizes has waned, I often wonder what happened to those pony prizes & hope that they got good homes. I remember my parents & some of their friends, trying all evening to win a sad little baby rabbit that was crammed in a tiny cage, at a dinner dance tombola. Thankfully the rabbit was won & lived to a ripe old age & was mother of two litters of babies!

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