Friday, 26 June 2009

Ponies of Britain Magazine

I recently bought volume 8 of the Ponies of Britain magazine, for Autumn 1970, as part of my continuing researches into pony book authors and illustrators.


Here it is, with a rather charming cover picture by Joan Wanklyn. It's amazing how much more people like Joan Wanklyn and Carol Vaughan did for the equestrian world than you would think if you simply went by their bibliographies. There are very few Pony Club or Pony Magazine Annuals without a story by Carol Vaughan. Joan Wanklyn was a regular judge of the annual Harry Hall Drawing Competition in Pony. Not only did she judge, she also produced a two page spread for the magazine commenting on the prize winners. And here she is, illustrating the POB Magazine.

The POB Magazine, is, of course, crammed with pictures of delectable show ponies. I used to have a game I played, which I'd quite forgotten until I saw this magazine. I would go through magazines studying all the photographs, pretend I'd been put up against a wall and told I HAD to have one (what a dreadful fate), and choose a pony. Here's my choice, though he was run a very close race by the Dales mare Robertland Lady Scattercash, and the Highland stallion Turin Hill Angus Iain:

Now I think about it, there's a bit of a difference between my choice now and the delicately legged show pony I would have chosen when young. Now I seem to have gravitated without a second thought to those natives that can carry weight...

I did enjoy the photograph below. To the left is the Chairman, the formidable Mrs Glenda Spooner. In what is a staggering example of ignoring the obvious, the caption says "The Chairman looks on...." Well, yes, but certainly not at Firby Fleur de Lys and her connections. Maybe Mrs Spooner had spotted a distant Caroline Akrill (which pony author she banned from Ponies of Britain) skulking in the distance.

I don't know if big shows still go in for Fancy Dress, not having been to one for a while, but it certainly was quite a thing in the late sixties. I loved Prince, disguised as a saddleback pig. It looks as if he has trousers on - what a noble pony. I can't help but wonder what happened if the pony needed to have a pee - were there spaces in the right places?

There was a Group class, and this is the Meade family with their Owl and the Pussycat. I love this, though I would not have been happy at being the child who had to be the turkey.

Best of all was Welsh Cob Ceulan Mandarin, all his finer points completely covered by his mammoth costume. He was also accompanied by an Ancient Briton, baby, and a little deer (a dog?), and his owner, Mrs Thrower, who directed operations on his back underneath the mammoth skin! When the trophies were presented she emerged from beneath to receive the honours. That must have worried any ponies still standing: Ceulan Mandarin was completely unconcerned by his odd appearance, but it had already "caused considerable alarm amongst the other competing ponies!" The mind can only boggle.

One advert also brought back a memory. I am of the age where rugs came in fairly limited forms. For outside, the New Zealand. For night, the jute rug; for day the wool day rug or Newmarket, and for summer the summer sheet or anti sweat rug. That was it. Now, the average horse is probably better clothed than his rider, and sale adverts talk of the lucky horse coming with his "wardrobe" of rugs. As far as I can remember, the harbinger of all this; the sign of things to come, was the Lavenham rug. This unattractive beast was made of nylon, ripped in about 10 seconds, and looked appallingly sordid after the horse had spent a night in it. Jute somehow never seemed quite as vile when covered in horse muck as the Lavenham did.

You'll note from the ad it mentions nothing about being rip-stop. Ha. Anyway, that was it: the first in the barrage of new rugs which now come in different deniers, with optional neck cover, and in a positive galaxy of different prints and colours. I can't help but hanker after the days when a horse's rugs weren't fashion statements. Mind you, scrubbing a jute rug was never fun, so something that can go in a machine has to be good. In passing, I wonder if anyone still makes jute rugs?

Some things, however, do not change. Elwyn Hartley Edwards, in his article The Lost Potential, says:

"Top of to-day's "in" words to be used when advertising a horse or pony for sale must surely be the word "potential". If it isn't then it runs "bombproof" a prettty close second. Every other young pony in the "For Sale" columns is ... a "potential winner...."

The letter of the week in Horse and Hound a couple of weeks ago made exactly the same point. Every animal in its For Sale columns, she said, seemed to be a talented beast sure to go to the top. Where, she asked, were the ordinary horses and ponies?

And another current hot potato in the showing world really isn't that new either. Fat not fit seems to be the fashion now, but in 1970, EHE said:

"How many of the ponies seen in show rings today carry a roll of fat like a bolster across their shoulders!"

To say nothing of being worked in side-reins....

Quite.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Another trot down Memory Lane

Every time I read the old Pony Magazines I've acquired from the 1960s and 1980s (rather worryingly, I did get some from the 1970s but seem to have lost these somewhere in the chaos that is my office) I find more things I want to write about, but this is one I've had brimming in my head for ages.

For many pony mad girls, if you didn't have a pony, you had a model pony. Preferably lots. I was definitely in the lots camp, having a fine collection of Britains model horses, riders and stables. The big advantage to Britains was that they were cheap: my 5/- (25p) pocket money would buy one in the early 1970s and leave me some money over for sweets. Here is the Britains showjumping set. I did actually have this, but I am utterly ashamed to admit that I lost nearly all of it over the years.

The 35/- price (£3.25) was quite spectacularly reasonable when compared with the game Jump Jockey, which was produced by Minimodels-Triang Ltd, who also made Scalextric. This, as mentioned in the December 1969 edition Pony, was a steeplechasing game, which you could order with any number of jumps up to 5 - which doesn't seem a huge amount to me, bearing in mind the length of the average steeplechase course - and you had control over whether the horse refused, shied or landed safely. It cost a massive 7 guineas (£7.70); quite steep when you consider this would jolly nearly get you a pair of made-to-measure jodhs from a Bond Street tailor.

At the cheaper end of the market were Dream Ponies. I'm not quite sure when these appeared (they are still about, but under the name of Magpie Models) but they were larger than Britains, came with a whole load of accessories, but in rather strange colours. My Arab was covered in a dark brown sort of fuzzy felt material, and had a rather alarming cream mane and tail of incredible, and completely unbelievable length. You were supposed to trim this yourself. I do wonder now I am older and cynical if this was a money saver for the workshop in not having to do the trimming. Their ads were always very small, and lurked at the back of Pony. Here is one from the 1980s:

There was of course plenty for the richer child, or the child with richer relations. Most of these I simply salivated over. I never even managed a copy of the Beswick catalogue, as you had to pay for it, and my mother figured that there was little point spending money on a booklet advertising something I had no hope of getting, which was fair enough, I suppose. Beswick made china horses and ponies, which now fetch astronomic sums on Ebay. All sorts of ponies and horses were made, and I particularly drooled over the native ponies, as in the 1960s ad below.


The attraction has never dimmed: my present for passing my O' levels was a Beswick bay mare. I still have her, though numerous house moves have taken it out of the poor thing a bit.

Also pricey were the Thelwell models. These were sold in a shop called Wells, in Kettering, which ironically is now the Cancer Research shop in which I volunteer. Alas there is absolutely no sign whatsover of a lurking model not cleared out when the shop closed. This is what they looked like:



At 52'6 including p&p these were expensive. I never, ever had one, and again, they're another thing that is still way out of my reach on ebay.

Probably the most sought after model horses (apart from things like the Rydal Arabians and Isis models, which I can't find any mention of yet in Pony) were Julip.

The strapline of looking and feeling like a real horse was slightly odd, as unless your horse feels like rubber, it certainly feels nothing like a Julip. Love Julip though I do, they really don't look that much like real horses either. The Rydal ones certainly do, but Julip really don't (and if you want to spend your money, try bidding for a Rydal on ebay. One one went for over £700.)

As an interesting historical aside, Julip was also advertised for sale in that same magazine. Here's the ad:



As ever with my childhood, I longed for one of these. I finally got one when I foreswore all other birthday presents, and had an Arab mare. I have her still, though she's alas now gone completely hard and has to be kept in a dark drawer to prevent her deteriorating any further.

The ad didn't change much over the years: this one is from 1969, but it was definitely still going in the 1970s:


and this one is from the 1980s, introducing the dressage horse. I do like the dressage rider.



Another thing I found in the 1980s magazines were model stables from Country Style models.

Photobucket

These do look very splendid, and I would have loved the stable yard, though by the time these came out (1984) I was married. Still set on acquiring Beswicks though, and my then husband, knowing how I lusted after them, bought me one, saying "Just go and change it if you don't like it." Well, there are a few Beswicks I don't like, and this was a Black Beauty one, and I didn't like it, so, taking my husband at his word, off I trotted and changed it (for a labrador, in case you're wondering). He was furious. I think that must have been one of those times when male and female stereotypes get reversed: I just assumed he'd meant what he said, and he'd assumed I would understand when he said just go and change it he didn't actually mean it...

Still got the labrador though. And the Julips, and most of the Britains. They've lasted a lot longer than that marriage did.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The new Jill books

The first three Jill books are being published in August, and you might like to take a look here for something about the new covers...

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Now your house can smell like mine

You too can have the smell of books.....

I'm very sad that they don't have Horse Scents, as of course the true horse lover wants their scent straight, not undercut with violets and pot pourri, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time, as long as they can solve the production problems that seem to have mysteriously arisen.....

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Winning a Pony

Thanks to Susannah Forrest too for telling me about the plethora of Win a Pony competitions there have been. Newspapers did it: the Evening Standard, The Reveille, and the Sunday Express, besides Horse and Pony and Pony. I've found a mention of The Sun running one.

Retail companies did it too. I would love to have seen the Milky Bar Shetland, and the Heinz Beans skewbald, the Kerry Gold Butter palomino, and the Sugar Puffs pony.

Susannah also reminded me about the TV ad which W H Smith ran to publicise their competition in the 1970s. It showed a girl posting her form, only for a neigh to sound from the post box after she'd turned away. This does ring a bell, despite the fact that my sister and I were not supposed to watch ITV, which was the only source of TV ads in the 1970s. We used to watch it illicitly, one of us close to the telly just in case, ready to switch to virtuous BBC1, and the other with an ear cocked in case we heard Mama coming down the hall.

Pony Magazine got very cross in the 1960s with all the ponies given away as prizes: both in well publicised national competitions, and as raffle prizes (Kathleen Mackenzie's Prize Pony is about just such a competition.)

Lieut-Col C E G Hope, who edited Pony Magazine from 1949-1972, published this broadside from Glenda Spooner and Lt-Col R C Kidd.


1966 Pony Magazine Broadside

Did this make any difference, I wonder? The 1984 competition made it quite clear that the pony wouldn't be handed out to just anybody:

"The pony will be awarded on the condition of the winner being, in the opinion of the judges, a suitable pereson with adequate facilities to care correctly and humanely for the pony and upon the consentof the winner's parents or guardians. Should the winer fail for any reason to conform wilth the above conditions, £700 in premium bonds will be awarded in lieu."

which made it pretty plain that you were not going to be able to sneak this one past your parents, or keep the pony in your garden shed.

I did find this very bizarre effort from 2007: a Barbie competition to win a pony for a year - a year? I investigated further, and it turns out you won lessons on the same pony for a year, and transport and riding kit. Not quite the same thing. The promoter said it was about "empowering girls" - it sounds rather as if this just taught them that things aren't necessarily what they seem, and what on earth happened after the year was up and the girl had fallen in love with the pony and then that was that? Goodness.

Presumably the winner of the 1984 Pony Magazine Win a Pony Competition met all the conditions: here is Fiona Dixon, lucky girl:

Unfortunately I don't have any Pony Magazines after this issue, so I don't know what pony she chose or how they got on.

Would you like a pony?

Thanks to Susannah for sending me this.



Oh life is so UNFAIR!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Win your dream...

Pony Magazine has always liked competitions: I remember the Birthday Competition from when I took Pony in the 1970s. I don't think I ever managed to get more than 30 out of 50, and certainly never got within sniffing distance of a prize. Such is the arrogance of adulthood that I opened the quiz for 1968, and thought ah! Literature. Piece of cake. Well, no. I could answer five, straight off the top of my head without resorting to bookshelf or Google. Below is that section:


Lieutenant Colonel C E G Hope, who was Pony's editor in the 1960s, said in the introduction to the competition: "Don't be frightened by the competition! It is long but nearly all the questions are easy for any pony lover, only a few teasers to test you out." He had relented a little by the time the results came out, saying "the task set you was long and hard," which made me feel a little better, but still. The winner was Kate Flint, who scored 94% and won a cruise. The lowest mark was 72%. And, oh woe, "you did better in the literary questions than I expected...." So, if you're feeling brave, let me know in the comments below how you did! The answers will follow in a later post.

Perhaps it's a reflection on the standards of education that such a demanding quiz was considered ok (though I received the first chunk of mine in the 1960s, so perhaps it's a reflection on me). Anyway, by the 1980s, competitions had changed. No more of these nasty questions where you might have to look stuff up: now you got multiple choice. Thinking about it, I guess you might still have had to look stuff up even for that, but still - at least you knew the answer was in there somewhere.

All was not lost if you didn't fancy the intellectual challenge of the Birthday Quiz. There was a Harry Hall drawing competition in the 1960s. Below is one I particularly like (one thing I have noticed in looking at the prizewinners is that I never, ever agreed with the one that won.) Here's the Senior third prize winner for 1966, Brenda Bailey, aged 14 :



And here is naughty third prize winner from 1967:




Now, where have I seen that rearing pony? Oh yes...



The prize had changed by the 1980s. Here's the prize list for 1968:



By the 1980s, you really could fulfil the dream, and win a pony. Only if you could demonstrate you could keep it properly, otherwise if was £700 of premium bonds, but still. Pony did, when it began, run "Win-a-Pony" Competitions, which were the first of their kind, and presumably the inspiration for books like Judith M Berrisford's Jackie Won a Pony, but they stopped them: "We decided there was a risk and discontinued them." (Pony, Oct 1968). Below is the competition for 1984:



I do have a dim memory of someone doing Win a Pony competitions in the 1970s. Was it Pony? Or was it W H Smith? Anyway, I would treasure those forms, carefully fill them in, and then dream, as I knew the chance of getting the all-important parental signature was zero, and the consequences of forging it didn't bear thinking about. (Now there's a plot for a pony novel.)

I haven't yet found any evidence of the lucky winner for 1984, but I hope there was one.



Thursday, 4 June 2009

Caroline Akrill: another interview

A while back I interviewed Caroline Akrill about her books: acute observers will have spotted that there was a great gaping hole where the Silver Bridle series wasn’t. This was nothing to do with Caroline: it was all to do with the fact that I hadn’t read the books recently when I was thinking of what to ask, and so hoped to draw a veil over my ignorance by asking nothing. Anyway, I do still have a few bones of academic respectability about me, about which I hope my tutors would be proud, though I think they would perhaps goggle a bit to find out their former student now applied that rigour to the pony book. But I digress.

The Silver Bridle series was Caroline’s last published fiction. The story of struggling actress Grace Darling and her journey towards success, via learning to ride, was written after Flying Changes, which is the dark tale of the obsessive and manipulative, and ultimately destructive Oliver. “When I wrote Flying Changes”, Caroline said, “Arlington had sent me off to ‘write what you like’ for my next book. So I wrote Flying Changes, not really intending it to be a teen read pony novel. When they read it they were horrified (believe me, it was much, much darker than the version that finally appeared) and so were Granada who had bought the paperback rights after the success of the Eventing Trilogy. So, much against my better judgment, I had to take out the darkest bits and tone the rest down! I do like the darker side and started to write a vampyric novel once – I may finish it one day!” This got me thinking, and I told Caroline about my daugher’s addiction to the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Maybe, I said, you could have a vampyric horse, and thinking about it I do rather fancy the Fanes as vampires. They’d do it with style. Caroline agreed: “The Fanes would make rather good vampires!” So there’s a thought. Maybe Fidra, when they re-issue the Eventer’s Series could run a competition to suggest what the Fanes could do next…


After this, the Silver Bridle trilogy of novels was a complete change of direction. Collins, the publishers of Armada paperbacks, commissioned Caroline to write a trilogy on horses and acting, accompanied by Peter Aykroyd’s Gymnast Gilly trilogy, and a ballet trilogy. Although Caroline didn’t have any stage experience herself - “I don’t think I have an inner actress, but my daughter went to stage school so it must be in the genes somewhere!” she was able to draw on a lot of expertise. K M Peyton’s Flambards stories had been made into a television series, and she and Christine McKenna, who played the lead, Christina in the Flambards series, gave her a lot of technical background. “Chrissie helped with some of the technical acting bits & location work, as did Kathleen. Howard King is a lighting engineer and he took me on a tour of ‘television city’ and gave lots of advice on filming and lighting. John Cotton, my cousin, introduced me to Howard. Anthony Stafford, another cousin (an actor) read bits for authenticity, and Sylvia Stanier, a dear friend, trained horses for film & circus work and advised on that.” Caroline’s equine career has been very varied: she’s run a riding stable and worked with show ponies, so I wondered if she’d ever been tempted to train horses for film work. “I never wanted to train horses for film work – they tend to be regarded by some directors as expendable!”


Like Caroline’s other stories, the Silver Bridle stories have a classic romantic hero in Anthony, owner of the Moat Farm Stables where Grace is sent to learn to ride. Romance is something that now it is very difficult to publish a pony book for teenagers without. How times have changed. When Josephine Pullein-Thompson wrote Pony Club Camp, in 1957, in which Noel and Henry probably – it isn’t actually definite – kiss, very chastely, right at the end of the book, her publishers, Collins, were horrified, and told Josephine to write no more of the series. “This liking for a series about Peter Pan characters was common in publishing at that time,” said Josephine, “whereas I saw them as real children and took pleasure in knowing them as they grew up.” How times had changed by the 1980s. Was there any difficulty with having romance in the series, I asked? “I was actively encouraged to get into the romance in the novels,” Caroline said. “I think things have moved on since the Pullein-Thompsons, and look how Harry Potter has grown up!”


The Silver Bridle books were Caroline’s last published fiction. The books were re-issued, in one volume called The Silver Bridle, by J A Allen. Caroline became their Chief Executive, and started a project to produce pony fiction. “Allen had always been about quality and we wanted to elevate the status of the pony novel, engaging the top writers, the best illustrators and with our usual high production standards.” I wondered why Caroline had picked the Silver Bridle trilogy as her contribution, rather than her other books. “All of my other books were still in print so The Silver Bridle was the only option for the Equestrian Series and I did so want to be represented! I didn’t have the time to write anything new.”


And so Grace finishes the story with what looks like a hit TV series, and her man. To me, the series doesn’t have the same feel as the Eventer’s series: it seems more finite. With the Eventer’s series, I felt that there were still plenty of places for the characters to go, and that there was lots of room for a sequel. The Silver Bridle trilogy seems complete: although I guess Grace and Anthony could maybe go on and work together, the ending as it is seems enough. Did you feel differently about the characters, I asked? Was that it for Grace, but did you feel you could go on with Elaine?

“You are right, there is still potential with the Fanes and Elaine, so they could go on if there was a demand, I suppose. The characters are easy to write about and they developed rather easily, I’m not sure why. They seem to remind everyone of someone, and they have a sort of raffish glamour in their own inimitable way. They are incredibly self-centered and exasperating but one does become fond of them – I think of them with affection – and gratitude!”

So, despite this being an article on Grace Darling and her story, the Fanes have elbowed their way in again. What do you think – is there a market for more Fanes?

Monday, 1 June 2009

An early horse story: 1908

This is a curiousity, and not the sort of thing that I tend to come across very often. Amélie Rives' Trix and Over-the-Moon is a very early American horse book, written in 1908. It's not a story told by a horse, like Black Beauty; what it is in fact is a horse story with what came to be a traditional plot: girl (or woman in this case) buys tricky horse; tries to school horse; aims at showing horse successfully.


Amélie Rives, the author, was a god-daughter of Robert E Lee, and was born in 1863 She spent most of her life in America's South, on her family's estate near Charlottesville. She was married to, and divorced the wealthy John Armstrong Chanler, and then married Prince Pierre Troubetskoy, a Russian. Her first book, The Quick or the Dead, scandalised America with its portrayal of a young widow pondering re-marriage shortly after the death of her husband. Whether Trix and Over-the-Moon caused any scandal, I do not know. It would certainly pull any modern reader up short.

Trix is Mrs Beatrix Bruce, married to Sidney Bruce. They live in Virginia, where Trix achieves epics of organisation running the farm - and I mean epics. I really don't know how she does it. This is a description of her morning routine: and it's not even the whole morning:


"It was early in the morning, and yet Trix had set out three other shrubs, superintended the planting of half a dozen trees, seen to the strawberry bed, overhauled the stable and dairy and written about 50 checks. The day was yet before her, she felt, and the day would be full..... Later there would be Tim and his spelling-lesson, her new habit-skirt, the colts, the farm, that man from Barboursville to see about the contract for timber in Hickroy Mountain, her runabout to varnish - above all, the sick mare to see after."


In comparison to this phenomenon, Trix's husband does remarkably little. After some sucess writing, he has made it his career, but his latest efforts are all, as Trix points out, in the stye of someone else and hence not a success. Trix, I forgot to mention, spends much time quoting Horace, though she does not care much for any other literary works.

I have read very little other American literature of the same period with which to compare this, and I am busy resisting the temptation to start as it might be an idea if I finished off some of the many other articles I have in the pipeline, but I would be interested to know if such female phenomena are common. There is no doubt whatsoever about who is in charge of the estate: it's Trix, and thereby lies some of the problem.

The amazing Trix is of course an accomplished horsewoman, and horses are her main love. She buys a colt decended from the stallion Orion, whom she eventually calls Over-the-Moon. The Orion colts are known for their suspect temper, and everyone save Trix sees something bad in the colt, though his outrages against discipline are relatively minor.



The twin vehicles for the uneasiness about the colt are Trix's Mammy, Mammy Henny, and Sidney's nanny, Alison Stark, a Scot. Both these two talk at epic length in extraordinarily irritating dialogue meant to convey their accents:

" I 'clar' I dun'no' what you after, Mis' Stark," said Mammy Henny. "I ain done tuk away no wuds, nor put 'em in nuther."

"There's naebody sae blind as them what wunna see," said Alison, tersely; "but a' thae things ye black folk sing gar me scunner."

I find this sort of literary device quite spectacularly irritating. I know perfectly well that these two are going to have Southern and Scottish accents respectively, and I can usually fill that in for myself. When you have page after unending page of it, as much of the plot is driven forward by these two arguing, I began skipping it, only to find that in all the pages of verbiage were a couple of sentences I actually needed to have read to understand the plot. So girding my loins, I knuckled down and got on with reading it properly.

I would note in passing that Alison's attitude, as expressed in the quotation above, is roundly rebutted by Mammy Henny.

It turns out that Trix is pregnant (though she hasn't actually told anyone this). I did wonder if the way this is made very plain would have been strong meat for its time. Certainly even in Elsie J Oxenham's books about young women, published in Britain a decade of so later from Trix, one was unable to dance for a while, but that was the only clue readers had about pregnancy until the baby appeared some chapters later.

Both Mammy and Alison are full of disapproval and fear for Trix: she will, they think, be at the very least seriously injured by the colt if she rides him at a show, when the atmosphere will drive him to behave badly. Trix takes no notice, and lies to her husband when he extracts a promise from her not to ride at the local show. Eventually, Alison takes matters into her own hands. Convinced Trix will be killed by the colt, she befriends Over-the-Moon (having on him the sort of effect pony mad girls in coming decades would have longed for), but in the dead of night, she sneaks out and kills the colt by cutting his jugular, convinced this is the only way she can save Trix. She herself does not survive the killing long. She falls and spends a night outside; which carries her off in a long and rather satisfying deathbed scene where Mammy and Alison reveal the affection that has underlain their decades of battles, and Trix forgives her.



This is quite an extraordinary book: it went through many reprints so must have been very popular. The denoument took me by surprise: it actually seems quite a logical thing for Alison to do. Deathbed scenes involving horses never seem to have attracted quite the aversion that deathbed scenes involving humans do: people very rarely die in horse and pony books, but the poor equine hero does meet his end. From Ginger's pathetic hooves lolling over the edge of the cart as her corpse is taken away in Black Beauty, to Seaspray's awful struggles in the grips of Tetanus in Diana Pullein-Thompson's A Pony To School, horses die, but I can think of not a single one who is killed in order to save his mistress.

There is no authorial comment on the death, though Alison is smitten with horror at what she has done. Trix's behaviour though, is summed up thus:

"Trix shed the bitterest tears of her short, self-willed life next morning, sitting on the ground, regardless of the dreadful mess of blood, with the stark head of her favourite on her lap.

And she went through a very black and human phase of blind rage against Alison. Later on in the day, however... the sense of justice that was the backbone of her sturdy nature made her see things, differently , even touched her in an odd way."

With the exception of the Southern and Scottish dialogue, the book is well written, and is really, I suppose, a tragedy. It is a portrait of a very gifted and capable woman, who is too used to getting her own way to see that she is endangering far more than just herself, and in the end it leads to the death of her beloved horse.

If you can get hold of a copy - the book is not hard to get hold of - I'd recommend you read it. It is a fascinating example of an early horse story, and of the lengths to which humanity will go in defence of those it loves.