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Jane Badger Books

Patricia Leitch: The Summer Riders (eBook) Jinny 3

Patricia Leitch: The Summer Riders (eBook) Jinny 3

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Jinny has a full programme planned out with Shantih, and almost better still, someone to share it with. Sue and her pony Pippen have come to camp near them. At last, a pony friend who sees things in the same way as Jinny, and who can help her with the firebrand Shantih.

Then Jinny's father tells her that they’re having two children from Stopton, Marlene and her brother Bill, to stay.

Jinny is horrified, and even more so when she finds out Marlene longs beyond all else to ride Shantih. Jinny, furiously possessive, is determined this will not happen.

Gradually Jinny learns to appreciate Marlene for who she is,  and to understand that Marlene has her own loves for whom she will do anything, just like Jinny.

Jinny series 3

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Read a sample

Jinny Manders woke with the thought quite clear in her mind that today was the first day of the summer holidays.

“The summer holidays,” Jinny said aloud and with excitement.

She jumped out of bed and padded on bare feet across her bedroom to the window that looked out to the rolling hills and high, rocky crags that surrounded Finmory House. Nothing stirred in the grey summer dawn. Then, as Jinny stared out, the glistening golden disc of the sun began to slip up from behind the hills. The high, cloudless sky shimmered into blue.

“Going to be a smashing day,” thought Jinny. “I’ll go for a ride now,” she decided. “Before anyone else is awake. Nobody to spoil it. Just Shantih and me.”

Jinny somersaulted back across her room, past the mural of a red horse charging through a jungle of white flowers, past her own drawings and paintings pinned to the walls, under the arch that separated the two halves of her room and did a floppy cartwheel over her bed to reach her other window. It faced in the opposite direction, looked over Finmory’s garden, down to the ponies’ field and on to Finmory Bay and the glittering reach of the sea.

Jinny opened the window wide and leaned out, her long, red-gold hair swinging over the sill.

“Shantih,” Jinny called. “Shantih.”

Punch and Bramble, the two borrowed trekking ponies that Jinny and her younger brother Mike had ridden to school, went on grazing, ignoring her, but the third horse looked up, instantly alert at the sound of Jinny’s voice.
“Shantih,” Jinny breathed, and the Arab horse whinnied in reply, her nostrils dark pits in her delicate, dished face. Her ears were pricked above her silken forelock and her dark, lustrous eyes looked up at Jinny from under long-fringed lashes. She was a pure-bred Arab, red-gold with a white blaze and four white socks, and Jinny loved her completely, totally.

Jinny had first seen Shantih in a circus. Then she had been ‘Yasmin, the Killer Horse’, being lashed into rearing viciousness by the ringmaster. But now she belonged to Jinny and was Shantih, which means peace. Ken had chosen the name, saying that names changed people and that it would help Shantih to forget the circus.

Almost a year ago, Jinny and her family—Petra who was now fifteen and Mike who was ten—had all left the city life of Stopton, where Mr. Manders had been a probation officer, to come and live at Finmory House. It was a large, grey, stone house in the Highlands. Their nearest neighbour was Mr. MacKenzie, whose farm supplied the Manders with milk and eggs, and then there was nothing but moorland until the tiny village of Glenbost where and Mike and Jinny went to school. Now Mr. Manders made his living as a potter, helped by Ken, who was seventeen and staying with the Manders.

They had first got to know Ken Dawson when he had been on probation in Stopton, charged with other boys for breaking into a warehouse. At the end of his probation he had said to Mr. Manders, “I’d nothing to do with it.” “I know,” Mr. Manders had acknowledged.
Although Ken’s parents were rich enough to send him a monthly cheque, they wanted nothing further to do with him. “Just so long as they know I’m not starving,” Ken had mocked when his first cheque had arrived direct from the bank, and he had laughed, stuffing it into the pocket of his jeans. But Jinny hadn’t thought it was funny. Your own parents not loving you. She couldn’t even bear to think it might be possible.

“We want you here,” she had assured Ken. “I care.”

And Ken had smiled directly at her, his green eyes bright in his thin, tanned face. He had pushed back his long, straw-coloured hair and looked down at her from his bony height. “Thank you,” he’d said and gone out to the vegetable garden he was creating, with Kelly, his grey, shaggy dog padding at his heels.

Jinny wasn’t quite sure what was the best thing, Ken living with them or owning Shantih. She could never make up her mind.

Shantih whinnied again and walked towards the hedge closest to the house, her stride neat and precise through the dew dark grass.

“We’re going for a ride,” Jinny told her. “I shan’t be long. Stay there.”

A few minutes later Jinny was flipping down the steep flight of stairs that led from her attic bedroom. She ran along the corridor, down the wide staircase to the hall, and into the kitchen. She was the first, there was no one else awake. She paused for a second to choose two apples, one for herself and one for Shantih, then she opened the heavy back door, hearing its creaking echoing through the sleeping house, and she was free. In the back yard she whirled round and round, her long hair flying out about her skinny body.

“Summer,” she yelled. “Summer, summer, summer.”
And thought of galloping over the moors, swimming Shantih in the sea, camping by Loch Varrich—if she could find a tent. Days and days of being with Shantih. “And it was summer; warm delightful summer,” said Jinny slowly.

The Manders stables had once been crumbling outhouses. Now there was a place for tack and the horses’ feed, two stalls for the Highland ponies and a loose box for Shantih. Jinny took down Shantih’s snaffle bridle. Beside it, polished and gleaming, was the tack belonging to Bramble and Punch. Jinny swallowed hard and tried not to look at it. It wasn’t that she had forgotten that tomorrow Punch and Bramble were going back to Miss Tuke’s trekking centre, just that she wasn’t allowing it to come up to the surface of her mind. Tomorrow would be time enough to think about Shantih being alone in the field and Miss Tuke taking back both saddles which meant that Jinny would need to ride bareback all the time. Jinny didn’t mind riding bareback but she had to admit that without a saddle Shantih would be able to throw her off more often than usual.

“Nobody, absolutely nobody, could possibly say that Shantih wasn’t improving,” Jinny thought. Only last Easter Jinny had spent most of her rides flying through the air while Shantih bucked or reared but now she managed to stay on top most of the time.

Jinny counted on her fingers as she walked down to the ponies’ field. Last week she had only been bucked off six times and Shantih hadn’t really reared at all. Not what you’d call rearing. There had been rather a nasty moment when they had met Mr. MacKenzie’s tractor, but she hadn’t actually reared, Jinny decided, just tipped up a bit, and it had all been Mr. MacKenzie’s fault, coming charging round the corner when he knew he might meet them. “He does it for kicks,” thought Jinny darkly. “Lurks and pounces on us.”

Shantih was waiting at the field gate and whickered when she saw Jinny.

“Horse,” said Jinny lovingly, “are you in a good mood or can you smell the apples?”

Jinny slipped the bridle over the Arab’s head and led her out of the field. She shared the apples with her, feeling Shantih’s velvet muzzle lipping her hand.

“Finished,” Jinny told her. “That’s all.” Shantih pushed at Jinny to make sure. “Come on,” said Jinny. “We’re going down to the sea.”

Jinny sprang up onto Shantih’s back. There hadn’t seemed much point in dirtying a saddle for one day, not after Mike had helped her to clean the tack. Now that Punch and Bramble were going back to Miss Tuke’s trekking centre Jinny didn’t suppose she’d be seeing much of her brother round the stables. Mike was easy-going and cheerful. with brown eyes and curly hair. Jinny liked being with him but she knew that although Mike was fond of Punch he wouldn’t really mind not having a pony to ride. Mike’s summer holidays would be full of his own things— fishing and helping Alec Clark on his father’s farm, hoping that this summer he might just be allowed to drive the tractor.

Petra was even less horsy than Mike. When it suited her she didn’t mind sitting sweetly on a horse with a headscarf at just the right angle over her curls, but most of the time Petra wasn’t in the least interested in Shantih. Really, Jinny was quite glad. Whenever Petra was around, Jinny seemed to make more of a muddle of things than usual. Jinny thought that her sister was made up of all the opposites to herself. She was sharp and efficient and organised; her curly hair was always tidy and her clothes always looked clean and smart. “And bossy,” thought Jinny darkly. “Very bossy indeed.” Later in the summer Petra was going to sit an important music exam and all her spare time would be spent practising the piano. Jinny knew she would pass. Passing exams was one of Petra’s things. Reading teenage fashion magazines was another. “But not helping me with Shantih,” Jinny decided.

It wasn’t that Jinny wanted anyone else to ride Shantih but she couldn’t help thinking that it would be nice to have a friend. Someone to ride with her. None of the other children at the village school was the least interested in ponies. They thought of them as things they had kept around the crofts before the tractors came.

“What I would like,” thought Jinny, “is another girl who has her own pony and knows a bit about schooling. Someone who could tell me what I’m doing wrong. Someone to help me to lunge her … ” Jinny stopped in mid thought. Last Easter holidays she had tried to make Clare Burnley help her with Shantih and things had gone disastrously wrong. It was not something that Jinny allowed herself to think about too often.

“All past. Utterly past,” thought Jinny, and she gathered up Shantih’s reins and urged her into a canter. Shantih bucked. Jinny sailed over her head, landed on her feet and sprang back up, almost in one smooth circle.
“Get on with you,” shouted Jinny, sitting tight and close. “On you go.” And the mare was cantering smoothly towards the beach. The sea breeze flicked back her mane and lifted strands of Jinny’s red hair. Jinny laid the palm of her hand flat on Shantih’s shoulder, feeling the power of the Arab’s stride. “Faster,” urged Jinny and the mare stretched her neck and raced over the rough grass.
Jinny brought Shantih back to a walk before they reached the beach. She slowed down reluctantly, snaking her head and jangling her bit, curtseying suddenly sideways, her tail kinked over her back.
“Don’t bother showing off,” said Jinny severely. “There’s no one to see you. Walk now. Steady.”

Shantih strode down the path between the massed boulders and out into the dazzle of the shore. On the sands Jinny stopped her and sat staring over the water. Gulls searching for an early breakfast looped the sky or squabbled at the edge of the surf; a pied squadron of oyster catchers flew low over the sea.

“Cor!” thought Jinny, glutted with the blue and silver and gold. “Just think, you might still have been in your piggy circus and I might have been stuck in filthy old Stopton. You remember, Shantih Manders, how lucky you are and stop bucking me off.”

Shantih flickered disinterested ears and dug impatiently at the wet sand until Jinny let her walk on along the beach.

At the far side of the bay, on the grass above the barrier of sea-smoothed boulders, was something that looked to Jinny like a bright yellow sheet hanging out to dry. She peered at it but couldn’t make out what it could be, then trotted Shantih towards it, thinking that it might be some sort of shelter that Mr. MacKenzie had put up. Then suddenly she stopped Shantih and stared in disbelief at the sands in front of her.

“It can’t be!” thought Jinny. “Yet it is!”

Someone, but Jinny couldn’t imagine who it could possibly have been, had been schooling a horse. The wet sand was pitted with hoof prints. Circles, figure eights and serpentines were tracked out on the sand. For a moment Jinny wondered if Clare Burnley might have been riding on the shore, but Jinny knew the Burnleys were still in Sussex and their house, Craigvaar, was still empty. And it couldn’t have been Mike or Petra or Ken. Even if one of them had taken a Highland for a ride they would never ever have brought him down here to school.

“Man Friday,” thought Jinny, and jumped down to examine the marks more closely.

They were certainly hoof prints. Someone had been schooling a horse there and not so very long ago. Then suddenly Shantih jerked her head into the air, almost snatching the reins out of Jinny’s hand. She whinnied with a blast of sound and was answered with a high, squealing neigh. Almost invisible against the boulders a girl in jodhpurs and a yellow tee shirt was riding a skewbald pony.

Jinny threw herself back up on to Shantih, knowing that if the Arab got too excited, she might not be able to get up on to her again. With neck arched and tail high, Shantih pranced across the sands towards the skewbald. The girl had seen them. She waved and walked her pony to meet them.

Page length: 125

Original publication date: 1977

Who's in the book?

Humans: Jinny, Mike, Petra and Mr and Mrs Manders, Ken, Mr MacKenzie, Miss Tuke, Mrs Simpson. Marlene and Bill, Sue Horton, Mr and Mrs Horton

Horses: Shantih, Bramble, Punch, Pippen

Other titles published as

Series order

1. For Love of a Horse
2. A Devil to Ride
3. The Summer Riders
4. Night of the Red Horse
5. Gallop to the Hills
6. Horse in a Million
7. The Magic Pony
8. Ride Like the Wind
9. Chestnut Gold
10. Jump for the Moon
11. Horse of Fire
12. Running Wild

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