If Wishes Were Horses: Lost Heroines

Paula Sykes on Scorchin' at Ostend. C/o Jane Martin.

There aren’t many web resources on Pat Smythe; it’s best to rely on the books she wrote at the height of her fame and her later autobiography, Leaping Life’s Fences. British Pathé has come up trumps however, and you can spend hours there looking for footage of all the showjumping greats from Stroller to Mr Softee. Here’s Pat jumping Prince Hal at the 70th National Horse Show in New York in the 1950s, receiving her OBE in 1956 (I think the vicar accompanying her is her brother) and training for the Olympics in the same year. She’s winning at Hickstead on Flanagan in 1962 (although I think the first horse shown might be Scorchin) and taking part in an educational documentary called The Young and Healthy with Tosca. I suspect this last film was the inspiration for Harry Enfield’s Cholmondeley-Warner…

Update: the Express ran an extract from this chapter which you can read here.

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.

Can You Hold Out Till Christmas?

Jane Badger has a preview of her new stock of pony books here, with scans of covers, including Veronica Westlake’s Ten Pound Pony (price, not weight) and Dream Pony by J S Goodall. I’m intrigued by the latter, which has, Jane says, “a gypsy girl heroine, rather than a gypsy out to steal your pony.” Also up for grabs, a Pat Smythe title – Florian’s Farmyard – and a Daphne Machin Goodall history of horse breeding.


Pat Smythe competing at Madison Square Gardens on Prince Hal in 1952 (I think)  against Shirley Thomas of Canada.

No hard feelings between Shirley and Pat – they later went on a road trip from Ottowa to Florida together, hunting with every pack they could find on the way.