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Showing posts from June, 2009

Ponies of Britain Magazine

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I recently bought volume 8 of the Ponies of Britain magazine, for Autumn 1970, as part of my continuing researches into pony book authors and illustrators.


Here it is, with a rather charming cover picture by Joan Wanklyn. It's amazing how much more people like Joan Wanklyn and Carol Vaughan did for the equestrian world than you would think if you simply went by their bibliographies. There are very few Pony Club or Pony Magazine Annuals without a story by Carol Vaughan. Joan Wanklyn was a regular judge of the annual Harry Hall Drawing Competition in Pony. Not only did she judge, she also produced a two page spread for the magazine commenting on the prize winners. And here she is, illustrating the POB Magazine.The POB Magazine, is, of course, crammed with pictures of delectable show ponies. I used to have a game I played, which I'd quite forgotten until I saw this magazine. I would go through magazines studying all the photographs, pretend I'd been put up against a wall and t…

Another trot down Memory Lane

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Every time I read the old Pony Magazines I've acquired from the 1960s and 1980s (rather worryingly, I did get some from the 1970s but seem to have lost these somewhere in the chaos that is my office) I find more things I want to write about, but this is one I've had brimming in my head for ages.

For many pony mad girls, if you didn't have a pony, you had a model pony. Preferably lots. I was definitely in the lots camp, having a fine collection of Britains model horses, riders and stables. The big advantage to Britains was that they were cheap: my 5/- (25p) pocket money would buy one in the early 1970s and leave me some money over for sweets. Here is the Britains showjumping set. I did actually have this, but I am utterly ashamed to admit that I lost nearly all of it over the years.
The 35/- price (£3.25) was quite spectacularly reasonable when compared with the game Jump Jockey, which was produced by Minimodels-Triang Ltd, who also made Scalextric. This, as mentioned in th…

The new Jill books

The first three Jill books are being published in August, and you might like to take a look here for something about the new covers...

Now your house can smell like mine

You too can have the smell of books.....

I'm very sad that they don't have Horse Scents, as of course the true horse lover wants their scent straight, not undercut with violets and pot pourri, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time, as long as they can solve the production problems that seem to have mysteriously arisen.....

Winning a Pony

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Thanks to Susannah Forrest too for telling me about the plethora of Win a Pony competitions there have been. Newspapers did it: the Evening Standard, The Reveille, and the Sunday Express, besides Horse and Pony and Pony. I've found a mention of The Sun running one.

Retail companies did it too. I would love to have seen the Milky Bar Shetland, and the Heinz Beans skewbald, the Kerry Gold Butter palomino, and the Sugar Puffs pony.

Susannah also reminded me about the TV ad which W H Smith ran to publicise their competition in the 1970s. It showed a girl posting her form, only for a neigh to sound from the post box after she'd turned away. This does ring a bell, despite the fact that my sister and I were not supposed to watch ITV, which was the only source of TV ads in the 1970s. We used to watch it illicitly, one of us close to the telly just in case, ready to switch to virtuous BBC1, and the other with an ear cocked in case we heard Mama coming down the hall.

Pony Magazine got ver…

Would you like a pony?

Thanks to Susannah for sending me this.



Oh life is so UNFAIR!

Win your dream...

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Pony Magazine has always liked competitions: I remember the Birthday Competition from when I took Pony in the 1970s. I don't think I ever managed to get more than 30 out of 50, and certainly never got within sniffing distance of a prize. Such is the arrogance of adulthood that I opened the quiz for 1968, and thought ah! Literature. Piece of cake. Well, no. I could answer five, straight off the top of my head without resorting to bookshelf or Google. Below is that section:


Lieutenant Colonel C E G Hope, who was Pony's editor in the 1960s, said in the introduction to the competition: "Don't be frightened by the competition! It is long but nearly all the questions are easy for any pony lover, only a few teasers to test you out." He had relented a little by the time the results came out, saying "the task set you was long and hard," which made me feel a little better, but still. The winner was Kate Flint, who scored 94% and won a cruise. The lowest mark was 7…

Caroline Akrill: another interview

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A while back I interviewed Caroline Akrill about her books: acute observers will have spotted that there was a great gaping hole where the Silver Bridle series wasn’t. This was nothing to do with Caroline: it was all to do with the fact that I hadn’t read the books recently when I was thinking of what to ask, and so hoped to draw a veil over my ignorance by asking nothing. Anyway, I do still have a few bones of academic respectability about me, about which I hope my tutors would be proud, though I think they would perhaps goggle a bit to find out their former student now applied that rigour to the pony book. But I digress.

The Silver Bridle series was Caroline’s last published fiction. The story of struggling actress Grace Darling and her journey towards success, via learning to ride, was written after Flying Changes, which is the dark tale of the obsessive and manipulative, and ultimately destructive Oliver. “When I wrote Flying Changes”, Caroline said, “Arlington had sent me off to …

An early horse story: 1908

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This is a curiousity, and not the sort of thing that I tend to come across very often. Amélie Rives' Trix and Over-the-Moon is a very early American horse book, written in 1908. It's not a story told by a horse, like Black Beauty; what it is in fact is a horse story with what came to be a traditional plot: girl (or woman in this case) buys tricky horse; tries to school horse; aims at showing horse successfully.


Amélie Rives, the author, was a god-daughter of Robert E Lee, and was born in 1863 She spent most of her life in America's South, on her family's estate near Charlottesville. She was married to, and divorced the wealthy John Armstrong Chanler, and then married Prince Pierre Troubetskoy, a Russian. Her first book, The Quick or the Dead, scandalised America with its portrayal of a young widow pondering re-marriage shortly after the death of her husband. Whether Trix and Over-the-Moon caused any scandal, I do not know. It would certainly pull any modern reader up sh…