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Jane Badger Books

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: The Radney Riding Club (eBook)

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: The Radney Riding Club (eBook)

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Henry is in despair. His new horse, Evening Echo, is not going well. It is cold comfort that none of the other local riders seem to be any better. Henry decides he’ll start a riding club, and with the help of Noel, that’s what he does.

Josephine Pullein-Thompson gives us another cast of wonderful characters: Alex, cursed with a pony so terrible he seems to have no redeeming features; Christo, whose black mare is only rarely under control, Eric, whose cob, Princess is under such rigid control she barely breaks out of a canter, and Paulina, who prefers to waft about looking pretty than put any effort into riding well.

Can the club manage to learn something and compete at a local one day event?

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Read a sample

Henry Thornton rode his bay thoroughbred, Evening Echo, up the mossy and unweeded drive to the stables, empty now that his parents’ and sister’s horses had been turned out to grass. He led Echo into his box and began to unsaddle him, but Finch, Mr. Thornton’s groom, came across the yard.

“’Ere, you’d better let me do that,” he said, “or you’ll be late for lunch again.”

“Well, Mummy can’t grumble when it’s the last day of the holidays,” answered Henry; “but, still, perhaps I had better rush. Thanks awfully.”

Mr. and Mrs. Thornton and Henry’s elder sister, Elizabeth, were already eating shepherd’s pie when he entered the dining-room.

“Sorry,” he said, flopping into his chair and beginning to eat at once. “Echo decided that he wouldn’t turn on his forehand; I had to stay there until he gave in.”

“I know it’s not the faintest use trying to tell you anything,” said Elizabeth; “but, all the same, I think you’re absolutely bats. Daddy bought Echo as a good hunter and, considering his age, he is a good one, surely that’s enough? Why worry with all this other nonsense?”

“Any fool can ride to hounds so long as he’s courageous,” answered Henry. “I want to be a horseman.”

“If it was polo, I could understand you,” said Elizabeth, pursuing her own train of thought. “Anyway, Finch says that you’re making Echo sour with all your messing about.”

“I wish Uncle George lived nearer,” said Henry. “I need some good advice. Not your brand, Elizabeth; you’re a defeatist; you don’t try to improve yourself or your horse. At least I struggle and strive to leave the dismal abyss of ignorance.”

“Your Uncle George is going abroad this summer; otherwise, you could have taken Echo over to Folly Court for a few weeks,” said Mrs. Thornton. “But there are plenty of knowledgeable horsemen around here. Surely you could find someone to consult?”

“It’s cheek to bother people just for oneself,” answered Henry; “but I think next holidays I’ll start a riding club. After all, there isn’t a pony club—and experts don’t mind coming to instruct a lot of people.”

“Next holidays you’ll probably have some other mad craze,” said Elizabeth.

“By the way, Mummy,” said Henry, ignoring his sister, “may I have Noel Kettering to stay next holidays? You remember, I told you about her—she’s one of Uncle George’s band. Her father’s an archæologist, and he and Mrs. Kettering are going excavating all the summer. Noel can’t very well go out to Egypt for the holidays and so she’s got to stay with an aunt in London.”

“Yes, I remember; Professor Kettering’s daughter,” said Mrs. Thornton. “Well, I think we could manage it, but only on condition you entertain her, Henry. You’re not to disappear and leave her to Elizabeth and me as you did with that nice boy you brought back from school.”

“Oh, him,” said Henry. “Well, he seemed all right at first, but he could only talk about school and three days in his company was enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. No, Noel’s not like that; at least she has an original mind.”


Instead of packing for school, David Rice-Greene was taking a last look through his books on butterflies in an attempt to identify his capture of the day before. None of the descriptions quite fitted; perhaps he had netted something rare at last.

“Really, David,” said his tall, fair-haired mother in an exasperated voice, as she entered with a tennis racket and a school-clothes list in her hand. “I’ve told you to get on with your packing a dozen times. You’re never going to be ready for the two-ten train. All you ever think of is those stupid butterflies; such a silly hobby for a boy of your age. If only you were interested in games or riding; but butterflies—you’d better keep quiet about it at your new school or everyone will make fun of you. Now come on, have you got your games shoes? Two pairs of lace-up outdoor shoes, bedroom slippers; now your mackintosh. It’s a pity you can’t learn riding at school. They might knock some sense into you there; it’s really ridiculous the way you can’t manage Tanzy. I just don’t know what to enter you for at the Bank Holiday show. Do you want to try the jumping again or do you think you’d better just stick to the races? David, why don’t you answer? Oh, you are exasperating—you’re thinking about butterflies again.”


Christo Carstairs gave her black mare, Dragonfly, a last pat and a farewell lump of sugar. Then she climbed the five-barred gate slowly. Looking back for a moment, she tried to impress on her mind a picture that would last through the long term ahead—a picture of a coal-black mare of 15.1, with an intelligent head, gazing after her with large brown eyes. Then she ran round the corner of the road and left the country behind her, for the Hill House, where the Carstairs lived, was at the end of Radney Avenue, a road on the outskirts of Trawley. Mrs. Carstairs was waiting in the car outside the tall, red, ivy-clad house. Bill and Gerry—Christo’s younger brothers—were swinging on the gate.

“Everything’s in,” they shrieked, “except you; Mummy nearly went without you.”

“Good-bye. Don’t overwork,” said Christo, leaping into the car.

“No fear,” answered Gerry. Bill was holding Samba—the spaniel—on top of the gate and making him wave a paw.

“You won’t forget to send me the schedule of the Bank Holiday show, will you, Mummy?” asked Christo, as they drove away.


“Oh, Oscar, please. Do try to be nice when it’s my last day,” said Alex Turner to his fourteen-hand bay gelding.
But Oscar made another threatening face and turned his hindquarters to Alex. “I don’t want to ride; I’ve only come to say good-bye,” Alex told him. “Look, I’ve brought you some carrots.” He produced a paper bag. Oscar turned, and, for a moment, pricked his ears. Then he resumed his threatening expression. “Give them to me or I’ll kick you,” he seemed to say as he grabbed the bag. Despite his age, which was nearly fourteen, Alex felt near to tears. It was bad enough to be going back to school, without Oscar being in an even worse mood than usual. Aunt Esmé was calling from the garden; that meant that it was time to go for the train. He tried once more.

“Good-bye, Oscar. Take care of yourself,” he said, but Oscar turned his quarters again. “I must go,” said Alex, and ran. “You won’t forget to look at his water each day, will you?” he reminded his aunt, as they drove away in the taxi.

Page length: 286

Original publication date: 1951

Who's in the book?

Humans: Henry, Elizabeth and Mr and Mrs Thornton, David Rice-Greene, Christo, Bill and Gerry Carstairs, Alex Turner, Juliet Naughton, Paulina Swindon, Eric Lawson, Jannice and Helen Barbersley, Fanny, Deb and Graham Marlowe, General de Veriac, Noel Kettering, John Manners, Susan Barrington-Brown
Equines: Evening Echo, Princess, Tanzy, Dragonfly, Oscar, Romeo, Tomahawk, Starshine, Choc Bloc, Swift, Swansdown, Holly

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