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Jane Badger Books

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Six Ponies (eBook)

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Six Ponies (eBook)

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Noel has no self-confidence. John has a nasty temper. June’s mother thinks June is wonderful (and so does she). Evelyn thinks dressage is a waste of time. Her sister Hilary is not so sure, and Richard, well Richard is very good at hiding the truth from himself. The Pony Club is the despair of Major Holbrooke, its district commissioner.

The Pony Club is presented with six New Forest ponies to break in. How they go about it, and the problems and triumphs they experience, are still just as entertaining and informative as when the book was published over 60 years ago.

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Read a sample

“Well done, June!” said Mrs. Cresswell as her daughter cantered out of the ring with yet another red rosette.

“Tie it on, Mummy,” said June, handing her mother the rosette.

“Golden Wonder does look smart with two red ones,” said Mrs. Cresswell.

“I hope both the prizes are cups,” said June, “then I’ll have thirty; though, actually, two of them are challenge cups.”

“Well, you’ll only have to win them twice more and then they’ll be yours,” said Mrs. Cresswell. “And I don’t suppose that’ll be very difficult, since all the children round here are such appalling riders. I’ve just been having a look at the Barington-Brown child’s pony,” she went on, “and a very good one it is too. You’ll have to be careful next time there’s a showing class, for I don’t think there’s much to choose between her and Wonder.”

“Riding makes a lot of difference,” said June, “and if Susan rides like she did today it’ll be another walkover for me. What a bore these gymkhana events are,” she went on. “I suppose we’ve got to sit and watch them until the prize-giving.”

“Why don’t you enter?” asked her mother. “You might win another prize.”

“Oh, Wonder’s no good at that sort of thing,” replied June, “and I don’t want to be made to look a fool.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” said Mrs. Cresswell. “Though I think you would probably win — riding must count, even in gymkhana events.”

“I dare say it’s all right for those cart-horsy old ponies with mouths of iron,” said June, “but I don’t want to spoil Wonder’s mouth, and she’d be sure to hot up if I started to gallop her. Anyway, I’m not going to enter. I do wish they’d hurry up and have the prize-giving.”

The competitors for class three, children’s bending race, were waiting in the collecting ring. Among them sat John Manners, a stocky, dark-haired boy of about thirteen, on a roan cob. John was in a very bad temper, and Dick Turpin, the cob, was rather excited. He danced about and barged his quarters into the other ponies. John jagged him in the mouth and said, “Stand still, can’t you?” at intervals. It was the jumping that had put John in a bad temper. It was all very well for Mum to say that Turpin was getting on and couldn’t be expected to jump as well as he used to. She didn’t know how maddening it was to be beaten, time after time, by June Cresswell, when you were sure you were the better rider. It wasn’t as if he could beat her in the races either, for she never went in for them — she probably realised that she wouldn’t stand a chance against him and the Radcliffes. He did wish Dad would buy him a pony that could jump. As for the best-rider class this morning, that simply hadn’t been fair. June Cresswell had only won because Golden Wonder was a properly trained show pony, which could change legs, while Turpin had never been taught to do that sort of thing. He was more of a hunter. But if I had Golden Wonder, thought John, gosh! wouldn’t I show them something …

Next to John, on a small bay pony with a very large head, sat Noel Kettering. Her jodhs, which were too big for her, had slipped up; her shirt, which was too small for her, had come untucked from her jodhs, and her hair was in its usual untidy state. But Noel was past caring; she felt icy cold and slightly sick. She thought, this awful “needle,” and I’m sure to let Topsy down again. Miss Lamb says she’s marvellous at bending, so it must be my fault, but I really don’t see how I can get her to turn quicker at the end when she won’t stop. I do hope she doesn’t charge out of the ring again … it was awful in the jumping … I’m sure Miss Lamb was furious, but I don’t see how I was to get Topsy over; she’s so terribly nappy. How I wish I were a better rider, could jump four foot and win the novice jumping on a lovely pony of my own. I wish I had a rich uncle who would die and leave me a hundred pounds. But those sort of things only happen in books, and, anyway, if the uncle was nice enough to leave me anything I probably wouldn’t want him to die. Anyhow, Topsy isn’t at all bad really — I expect most of it’s my riding — and it’s jolly nice of Miss Lamb to lend her to me …


“Mummy, Mummy,” shrieked Jill Morrisson, “I can’t get Wendy’s girths to meet, and I ought to be in the collecting ring!”

“All right, darling,” said Mrs. Morrisson in the affected voice in which she always talked to children, “don’t panic, there’s plenty of time.”

“Oh, Jill, you are stupid. Can’t you even saddle a pony yet?” asked her brother Richard in patronising tones.

“Of course I can,” said Jill. “But Wendy keeps blowing herself out, and I bet you couldn’t do it.”

“I bet I could,” said Richard. “I can always saddle Peter, and he’s nearly two hands bigger. But, then, you’re only a girl, and girls can’t do anything.”

“Girls can,” said Jill. “I can do lots of things you can’t.”

“Now, children,” said Mrs. Morrisson, “stop quarrelling. You must be overtired. I think you’d better go home directly after the potato race.”

“No, no!” shrieked Jill. “We must watch the novice jumping to see how Major Holbrooke jumps.”

“Anyway, I’m not going home until the end,” said Richard. “You and Daddy both said last night we could stay until it finished, and you can’t change your mind now.”

“All right, then, darling,” said his mother. “But don’t overdo it, or let little Jilly tire herself out.”

As he waited in the collecting ring, Richard thought how tiresome his mother was, and wondered what the chaps at his school would say if they could see him now. Peter was a pretty good-looking pony — he sometimes won in showing classes — but, of course, he didn’t touch Golden Wonder. Richard wished Peter was better at gymkhana events. He would like to show that conceited John Manners that he wasn’t the only person who could ride; but, best of all, he would like to win the jumping. Peter wasn’t bad; they generally got round; but he was rather careless and usually knocked a great many jumps down with his fore-legs. Richard had been told that he took off too close; but he was always much too busy staying on to do anything about Peter, and, anyway, he didn’t see how you could make a pony take off where you wanted him to …

Jill Morrisson thought that none of the other ponies was nearly as pretty as Wendy, with her long mane and tail. Richard might say she looked like a Shetland pony and jolly silly, but he was awfully tiresome since he had been at a boarding school. Once he had liked Wendy’s mane and tail and her name — she’d been given to them just after they had seen Peter Pan — now he said Peter Pan was only fit for girls and babies, and he had been livid when Mummy had made him call his new pony Peter Pan so that he would go with Wendy. Actually he never called him Peter Pan, but Peter, or sometimes Pete. Jill wished she had a sister, for Richard spent all day fretsawing or reading books about cowboys, and when she wanted him to play with her he only said girls were feeble and couldn’t do anything sensible …


Susan Barington-Brown, dressed in expensive but ill-fitting riding clothes, rode her dark-brown pony Beauty into the collecting ring. It was Susan’s first show, and she almost wished that she had stayed at home, in spite of the third prize, which she had won in the best-rider class. She loved riding, but she didn’t think she liked gymkhanas much. Daddy hadn’t been able to come — he had had to go to London on business; and Mummy was afraid of horses; and neither she nor Valerie, Susan’s sister, would take any interest in riding. In the end, Bob, the under-gardener, who looked after Beauty, had been sent, and he was awfully tiresome. When she had won the third prize he had told her how marvellous she was, though Susan had explained that it was entirely due to Beauty, which had gone on the right leg every time when she, Susan, had forgotten the aids again. He had said “shoo,” and waved his arms as they went over the practice jump — a thing Mrs. Maxton had told her you must never do. Then, when she had had three refusals at the first jump in the children’s jumping, he had said that Beauty needed someone behind her with a whip. Susan knew very well that it was because she hadn’t used her legs enough. Now, when she wanted to ask him if he had seen Beauty’s head-collar, he had disappeared into the refreshment tent. But far worse than Bob’s tiresomeness were the things she had overheard the Radcliffes saying about her. They always did shout. One of them — she thought it was Evelyn — but they all had red hair and freckles — was telling the others what a frightful rider Susan was, and how she would never have won third in the riding class but for the fact that her father was very rich and could afford to buy her a perfectly schooled pony and pay a groom to look after it. Susan knew this was true, but Evelyn had gone on to say that she was frightfully feeble, had fallen off at every pony club rally she had ever been to, and was ruining Beauty’s mouth and manners. Susan decided that she hated the Radcliffes, and she felt she must go to at least one more show and win the jumping. But even then, she thought, they’re sure to say that Bob has been schooling Beauty for me. And, anyway, they’re probably quite right for Beauty is easily the best-looking and best-schooled pony here, and would win everything if only she had a better rider …

Page length: 254

Original publication date: 1946

Who's in the book?

Human: Noel Kettering, Major and Mrs Holbrooke, Richard and Jill Morrison, the Radcliffes (Hilary, Roger, Evelyen, James, Margaret), Dick Hayward, June Cresswell, John Manners, Susan Barrington-Brown,
Equines: Gay Crusader, The Merry Widow, Black Magic, Northwind, Pixie, Darkie, Turpin, Topsy, Beauty, Golden Wonder. The New Forest ponies: Rocket, Romany, Grey Dawn, Rufus, Jet, Sunset

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