If Wishes Were Horses: Young Riders

Mum and a friend's horse, Beauty, with a red rosette.

Ponymadbooklovers have a good information page on Golden Gorse, as does Jane Badger. The only pony I ever got to Christmas was an Exmoor “adopted” from the Moorland Mousie Trust in Devon, who work to preserve what is now sadly a rare breed. They have commissioned a hardback re-issue of the novel, complete with original illustrations by Lionel Dunning: impossibly good value at £11.99.

The Pony Club has a downloadable history available on their home site, as well as a collection of classic old photos of many generations in Pony Clubbers in action. Health and safety fanatics look away now!

If you’re interested in learning about Enid Bagnold – above and beyond National Velvet – this Telegraph piece by Sarah Crompton is a good place to start, and Anne Sebba’s biography gives you the measure of a very formidable (and often endearingly silly) woman. I liked Bagnold immensely after reading Sebba’s portrait, and I’m glad that it’s now available on Faber Finds. Liz Hunt interviewed Bagnold’s daughter, Laurian, Comtesse d’Harcourt, for the Telegraph: a life quite as colourful as her mother’s.

For other pony book authors like the Pullein-Thompsons, Primrose Cumming (Silver Snaffles), Joanna Cannan and Ruby Ferguson (the Jill books), there’s Jane Badger’s comprehensive site.

This post relates to a chapter of the book If Wishes Were Horses: A Memoir of an Equine Obsession. If you have any questions to ask about the content, please fire away in the comments. The main online index for the book is here.

Post-Christmas Trivia

  • On the 30th at 2pm, BBC Radio 7 broadcasts “Cinderella’s Ponies”, a documentary about 100 Shetland ponies who live in a field off the M4 and perform in pantos around the country every Christmas.
  • Jilly Cooper in the Guardian on Sefton, the Blues and Royals’ horse gravely injured in the 1982 IRA bombing at Hyde Park barracks.
  • More on Ireland’s horse disaster in the New York Times. The Wall Street Journal was on top of the US horse-abandonment story in January 2008.
  • The classic Western, True Grit, has been re-made. Here’s a byte about Cowboy, Cimarron and Apollo, the equine stars.
  • An interesting new study compares the British equine economy and structure to that of Sweden and the Netherlands and makes suggestions for improvements. Dr Georgina Crossman found that  “models within the other two countries show that alignment with government objectives and better awareness of the socio-economic contribution of the horse lead to a more rapid progression of industry priorities.”
  • A Spindles’ Farm survivor has been re-homed with the Horse Rangers.
  • I got a voucher for a side-saddle lesson for Christmas and am totally overexcited!

More Pantomime Ponies

“TWO Shetland ponies will make their pantomime debuts in Cinderella at Hoddesdon’s Broxbourne Civic Hall.

Pedro and Peregrine will be pulling the carriage of the leading lady in the rags-to-riches fairy tale at the venue this Christmas.

They belong to George Gold, of Scotland, who began providing Shetlands for the stage 20 years ago, their first outing being in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in London’s West End.”

From the Hertfordshire Mercury. Of course I’m desperate to find a George Gold website, but there’s only a mobile phone number here, and a very wee photograph of the pumpkin coach on stage.

Pantomime Pony

Diddy Do, a shetland pony who for years hoofed with the best of them on the stage in Scunthorpe pantos, has hit  the ripe old age of 38. You can see Diddy here, enjoying being handfed apple mush in her retirement. Jane Badger has a full set of covers of Gillian Baxter’s “Pantomime Ponies” series, featuring the creamy palominos Magic and Moonshine and their human friends, Ian and Angela, here. I wish I’d known as a child that there were four more books to read, as I dearly loved Pantomime Ponies. I have a 1982 edition with wonderful illustrations by Elisabeth Grant.

“The orchestra  struck up a rumba, and Buttons dropped his hand to his side, moving so that he could touch Magic’s flank. Magic pricked his ears, and as Buttons began to dance a rumba the pony began to swing his hind quarters from side to side as though he, too, was dancing. The tune changed to a waltz, and Magic and Buttons circled the stage, twirling round in circles to the music.

The fairy story enchantment of the stage worked on Magic as well, and Angela found it easy to imagine that he really was a fairy pony, part of the mysterious forest, and not one of Uncle Arthur’s pantomime ponies at all.”