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Jane Badger Books

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Pony Club Trek (paperback - Woodbury 3)

Josephine Pullein-Thompson: Pony Club Trek (paperback - Woodbury 3)


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"He's erected two tents on the lawn, produced three cooking stoves, and goes on and on about the magnetic North."

Competitive parents are nothing new. The Woodbury Pony Club are going on a three-day trek over the Downs. Alice is delighted but Hanif is in despair – all he wants is a quiet time with his friends, but his super-competitive stepfather has other ideas. Even a trek can be turned into a competition. But the trek doesn't go the way anyone expected, and the idea of competition fades when a pony's life is at stake.

Woodbury Pony Club series 3

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“Do come, Harry. I know we won’t be chosen for the mounted games team, but it’ll be fun and we’ll see everyone,” pleaded Alice Drummond, dismounting from her dun pony, Saffron, and leaning over the loosebox door. “The holidays are nearly over and I can’t bear to waste a single moment of what’s left.”

Hanif Franklin dropped his body brush and curry comb into his grooming kit box and rumpled his curly blue-black hair. His brown face wore an obstinate look and his black eyes communicated nothing. Silent eyes, thought Alice.

“You’re so sociable and the rest of the pony club is so competitive,” he complained. “We spent the whole holidays training for the tetrathlon, and now it’s over I want to relax. Why can’t we go for a peaceful hack through the woods?”

“You’ll be able to go for peaceful hacks every weekend when I’m back at school,” Alice argued. “It’s a lovely ride to Garland Farm. You can relax while you watch everyone else tearing up and down, trying to get into the Prince Philip team.”

“Relax? With Jupe trampling on my toes, the Rookes quarrelling and people complaining that it’s not fair and they ought to have been picked? Some hope,” observed Hanif. He liked the Woodbury pony club members, but sometimes they all seemed terribly English while Alice with her tanned complexion, rich golden hair and dark blue eyes, could be Scandinavian. He liked her straight nose, wide mouth and determinedness, and the fact that she’d lived abroad and travelled a lot was another bond between them. And she had no parents at all which was much worse than having to put up with a difficult stepfather.

Alice could feel him weakening. “You know you really love all the pony club scandals and dramas. Come on, tack up. We don’t want to miss any of the excitement.”
When Hanif had saddled and bridled the impatient Jupiter, a sturdy liver chestnut of fourteen-two, and collected his crash cap, they rode along Darkwood Lane and past Shawbury, the red-brick, gabled house among the trees, where, since the death of her parents in a plane crash, Alice spent the holidays with her uncle and aunt and a shifting population of grown-up cousins.
They took the path through the woods and forded the river Vole, low in its banks and flowing placidly after the long, sunny summer. The ponies jogged happily along the track which passed through the Waterford Farm meadows, where Saffron was turned out during the term. Then they crossed the main road and took the bridlepath, which led through stubble fields towards Garland Farm, the home of David Lumley, who had been a well-known steeplechase jockey until a crashing fall had left him disabled, and was now District Commissioner and chief instructor of the Woodbury pony club. Soon they could see the farm on the rising ground. It was sheltered by a half-circle of hills and, beyond the hills, in the distance, the smooth green humps of the Downs met the faded blue of the late summer sky.
The four Wheelers lived at the Old Rectory, Kidlake, a village just down the road from the lane which led to Garland Farm. Their house was old and large and rather tumbledown. Both their parents worked and no one ever had the time or energy to cut back the ivy, which was gradually obscuring the upper windows, or to fix the dangling trellises, which were supposed to support the climbing roses on either side of the front door. Weeds had taken over the cobblestones of the stable yard and the sagging stable doors, clumsily re-painted bright blue by Rupert, were already peeling.

The Wheelers, who all had straw-coloured hair, blue eyes and pink and white complexions, were hard at work. Rupert, the eldest, was cursing as he pumped up the front tyre of an elderly and unloved-looking bicycle. His pink and white face was long and his blue eyes dreamy. Lizzie and Oliver were grooming chestnut Rajah and little brown Hobbit, while Netti had her grey, Tristram, tied up outside and was washing his tail.

“Why don’t you hack over on Rosie?” Lizzie, the second oldest, who wore her straw-coloured hair in a single plait, called to Rupert. “You could tie her up in David’s yard while you watch.”

“Because I know what would happen,” Rupert answered “The old Rooke would soon bully me into joining in. She’d have me in some useless team, consisting of Harry on lunatic Jupiter and some horrid little children from the D Ride, just to be slaughtered by Sarah Rooke and Netti and the other mounted games specialists.”

“Don’t talk to him, he’s stopped pumping,” Netti, whose straw hair was cut short and whose blue eyes were bright and challenging, told her sister. “And we’re not going to slaughter anyone. We haven’t a hope of making up a decent team. Except for Sarah, none of the good people have the right sort of ponies. Twelve-two is the best size, so even Tristram’s too big and the fourteen-twos are useless.”

“Hobbit’s perfect then, and I’m bound to be picked,” announced Oliver boastfully. He saw the Woodbury team winning at Wembley, cheering crowds and enormous rosettes.

“You are not.” Netti looked at Oliver’s round cheerful face, cheeky blue eyes and curly straw hair and decided that he needed crushing. “You’re hopeless at vaulting on and you’re too lazy to practise.”

“Do tack up, everyone, we’re going to be late,” called Lizzie, interrupting Oliver’s reply. “And Ollie, you can’t go with your bit like that,” she added in tones of horror. “It’s green.”

“Who cares. Boring old Janet Green only gives me a mingy three for inspection however hard I try. I can’t think why David’s made her the team trainer.”

“Oh, come on, Lizzie, stop fussing,” said Rupert as his sister ran to the tackroom for a wet rag. “I’ve got to start before this tyre goes down again, and surely everyone in the pony club must be used to Ollie’s tack cleaning by now.”

Page length: 182

Original publication date: 1985

Who's in the book?

Human: David Lumley, Sarah, Lesley and Mrs Rooke, Paul, Lynne and Mr and Mrs Roberts, Alice Drummond, Hanif (Harry) Franklin, James Morgan, Rupert, Elizabeth, Nettie and Oliver Wheeler, Sebastian Fuller, Tina Spencer, Amanda Quayle
Equines: Stardust, Chess, Berry, Banjo, Saffron, Jupiter, Ferdinand, Rosie, Rajah, Tristram, Hobbit, Sea King, Jigsaw, Bowie

Other titles published as:

Series order

1. Pony Club Cup
2. Pony Club Challenge
3. Pony Club Trek

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