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Jane Badger Books

Gillian Baxter: The Stables at Hampton (paperback)

Gillian Baxter: The Stables at Hampton (paperback)

Illustrator: Anne Gordon

Regular price £11.99 GBP
Regular price Sale price £11.99 GBP
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Is this the first dressage novel? It's certainly one of the earliest.

To be able to ride like that, to become part of such poetry, was worth anything, she decided, worth any amount of grinding work and heart-breaking struggle

Ginny works at a rundown urban stable. The horses are underfed and overworked but Ginny can’t see a way out. Then she meets Tamara, a dressage rider and stunt rider, and she offers Ginny a job.

Tamara gets through grooms at the speed of light. After a serious riding accident wrecked her face, she cannot trust anyone, and deals with this by driving anyone close to her away.

At first Ginny blooms, even though Tamara is not a talented teacher, despite her brilliance at dressage. Gradually, Tamara begins to trust and like Ginny. Then she takes on Andras, who can teach in a way Tamara cannot. He has a plan to develop the stables, but Tamara sees this as a terrible betrayal, deciding to make life so unbearable he and Ginny will leave.

Can Tamara and Ginny ever understand each other?

The Stables at Hampton does have one hunting scene in it where Ginny joins the hunt when her horse tanks off.

Fully illustrated paperback with all the original Anne Gordon illustrations

When will I get my book?

Paperbacks are printed specially for you and sent out from our printer. They are on a 72-hour turnaround from order to being sent out. Actual delivery dates will vary depending on the shipping method you choose.

Read a sample

“What have you done with him this time?” she asked Angela sharply. “Can’t you ever be trusted to exercise a horse without turning the procedure into a circus?”

“I’m sorry, Miss Blake.” Angela looked cowed, and Ginny realized that ‘Tamara’ was only for use when Gambler’s owner was absent.

“What happened this time?” Tamara sounded more resigned, as she bent to examine her horse’s legs. So far she had not even glanced at Ginny and Flash.

“He shied when I was riding along a cart track on the edge of the floods, and I fell off,” explained Angela unhappily. “The next thing I knew he was in the water and swimming away from me. Ginny rescued him for me; he was on a sort of island. She was awfully brave.”

There was genuine admiration in Angela’s pale, softly pretty face as she looked at Ginny.

“Was she?” Tamara swung her piercing, peculiar gaze on to Ginny for the first time. “What’s that you’re riding?” she demanded. “A disguised skeleton? You should be ashamed to keep a horse in that condition, unless he’s been ill. Is he yours?”

“No, he belongs to the man I work for,” Ginny told her.
“Better put him inside and give him a feed. He could do with it,” Tamara told her. “Then come and dry off in the house. Mrs. Slater won’t mind.”

“Thank you.”

Ginny dismounted, and Tamara opened the door of a second loose-box. Flash followed Ginny inside with low snorts of pleasure. There was an almost clean bed of straw on the concrete floor, and Tamara was clattering buckets and scoops on the other side of the partition in the dark, hay-scented fodder-room. There was already some sweet hay in the rack, and the bay pulled at it eagerly, without giving Ginny time to remove his bridle first. Then Tamara came in with a bucket almost filled with a mixture of bran, oats, and chopped carrots, which she tipped into the low, worm-eaten wooden manger. Flash plunged his nose into it with astonished delight, his dull eyes shining for the first time in months. Tamara smiled, and patted his thin neck, her face suddenly gentle.

“He hasn’t seen anything like that for a long time,” she said.

Then her face hardened again, and she went off to look at Gambler, whom Angela was attempting to clean in the next box.

Ginny dumped Flash’s tack beside the corn-bin and followed her, but she was not allowed to watch for long. Tamara saw her standing there, ordered Angela to keep working, and hurried Ginny across the yard to the house.
In the warm, spotlessly clean farm kitchen with its old-fashioned black-leaded range, a plump, grey-haired woman in a flowered overall was making pastry at the scrubbed deal table. She took one look at Ginny’s sodden condition, and abandoned her pastry-making hurriedly.

“Child! you’re soaking,” she exclaimed. “Whatever have you been doing? Come on now, out of those wet clothes. Miss Blake, will you fetch a warm blanket from the airing cupboard while I get her dry?”

“I will. Thanks, Mrs. Slater.”

Tamara went out of the room, and Mrs. Slater stood Ginny in front of the range and began to undress her as though she was a baby, clucking with distress at the layers of mud which had worked their way through Ginny’s clothes. When Tamara returned, the mud had been sponged off by Mrs. Slater and she was rubbing herself briskly with a large, rough towel.

“A hot bath would be better,” Mrs. Slater told Tamara. “But you know we haven’t got a bathroom, and that hip-bath does take such a long time to fill.”

She need not have worried. Ginny, dry and wrapped in the warm blanket, sipping hot milk by the fire, could not have taken cold had she tried. Tamara went out again to look at Gambler, and returned accompanied by Angela, who still looked unhappy.

“Now,” said Tamara, settling herself on the edge of the table, while Mrs. Slater returned to her pastry-making behind her. “Let’s get this sorted out. Angela’s told me most of the rescue story. Thank you, Ginny; it’s a good thing you were about. But I don’t like the way that horse of yours has been kept. Who did you say he belonged to?”

“My boss, Vic Tyler,” replied Ginny.

Realizing that it was the only thing to do, she went right back to the beginning, with her slow recovery from polio, and her first meeting with Vic, who kept the only ponies in the district. She told Tamara how she had gone to work for him, to her family’s suppressed disgust, as they had hoped that she would find some other way of carrying out the doctor’s advice of leading an outdoor life, and finally she came to Vic’s disappearance that morning with the police after him.

Page length: 284

Original publication date: 1961

Who's in the book?

Humans: Ginny Harris, Tamara Blake, Mr Bates, Andras Jokai, Vic Tyler

Equines: Flash, The Lion, Gambler, Count and Countess

Other titles published as:

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