Book name: Jackie Won a Pony
Author: Judith M Berrisford
Genre: Children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1958
This pony-story series starter was first published in 1958. In my 1982 imprint from Armada, who published the Jackie series when I was a child, some hints of post-war life remain, such as references to previous service in the Land Army and the continuing use of horses to draw carts in urban areas.
However, like many well-written children’s books, it has a timeless quality to it.
A number of pony stories centre around girls who long to own a pony but don’t come from horse-owning families. Jackie Won a Pony is a welcome part of that sub-genre.
Jackie has written an essay for a competition with Horseshoes magazine. She wins and is shown a number of wonderful ponies from which she may choose.
Overwhelmed by the choice put before her, and what fourteen-year-old wouldn’t be, she goes for a cup of tea to mull over her options.
On the way back to the stables she sees a grey mare dejectedly pulling a cart. Their bond is instantaneous, and she insists on having Misty instead.
Delight quickly turns to practicalities. Jackie’s home has a paddock, but the house is let for the summer while her parents are working abroad.
Arriving home, hoping to sleep in the attic while Misty safely grazes in the field, Jackie discovers that a local pony club rally means that there is nowhere near home for Misty to stay.
Jackie’s aunts are pretty capable, and a plan is soon hatched for her to make for Aunt Monica’s farm some days ride away where Misty will be fine.
I loved the early parts of Jackie Won a Pony.
Jackie is very capable and her happiness at having a pony at last and compassion for Misty’s position when they meet is very touching.
The plot quickly pivots to Jackie’s cross-country ride.
This is further livened up when her cousin Bab’s appears with a Cob she’s desperate to save from the knacker’s yard.
Lengthy rides in secret are often featured in pony fiction, usually in the context of stealing a horse doomed to slaughter or rescuing one which has been stolen.
The remainder of the book revolved around Jackie and Bab’s increasingly difficult task of saving Captain from being killed.
Although the premise of Jackie Won a Pony was fairly unusual in pony fiction, the subsequent plot development and range of supporting characters who Jackie and Babs meet along the way and press into service helping rescue Captain is in fact very traditional.
It remains a comfortable read, delivering on expectations and providing plenty of action along the way.
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