PBOTD 21st July: Cecilia Knowles - Hippo, a Welsh Cob

The PBOTDs for the next few days are to celebrate the fact it's the Royal Welsh show, so they will all (this will surprise you) feature Welsh ponies. Or cobs. Today's book is Hippo, a Welsh Cob (1960).

Evans, 1960, illus Juliette Palmer

Hippo is a black (mostly) Welsh cob, bred by the Rivers family. They break Hippo in, but the children grow too tall for him, so Hippo is sold to Lord Elsted and his daughter Daphne. Daphne too loves him and rides him with the vim that Hippo deserves. Alas she too grows too tall to him, so on he goes to Francis and Felicity, where he is taught to be a driving pony. Once again outgrown, Hippo goes to Leila. Initially all goes well, but then her father inherits estates in Scotland and Hippo is sent North, despite Leila having promised if she ever wants to part with Hippo she will sell him back to Francis and Felicity. Hippo humiliates Leila’s father by bolting with the lunches when he is acting as a shooting pony, and he is given to a local farmer and neglected. Francis and Felicity manage to find him again, and buy him in exchange for a crate of whiskey. Hippo is by then elderly and frail, but is nursed back to health.

Hippo was based on a real pony. The dedication in Hippo reads: “This book, about a real pony, is dedicated to my son, daughter, and son-in-law. To Basil who loved and rode him, to Barbara who drove him and eventually got him back into the family, and to her husband David, who, christening him “The Immortal” has kept him in happiness for many years.”

Cecilia Knowles has the knack of observing ponies and writing about them as they actually are, without anthropomorphising them, and Hippo is well above the usual pony biography.

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More on Cecilia Knowles
The Royal Welsh Show


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