Book name: Janet Must Ride
Author: Diana Pullein-Thompson
Format: Print, ebook
Genre: Pony book
Publication Date: 1953
Star Rating: 5/5
We all loved pony books as kids, but we all had to grow up some time.
The question was: how could we keep working with horses when we needed to earn a living?
Janet Must Ride is an unusual pony book in that it features a young adult going out into the world of work.
Janet is sixteen and has just left school. She gets a job with the Claudes of Stoneyminster Court Farm, who have plenty of ponies and need someone as a groom.
She has been a working pupil already, so she knows her stuff and is ready to work as a groom.
Janet is a sympathetic character because sixteen is still quite young to be leaving home and travelling across the country to live in with a family of strangers.
However, she rises to the task. She is kept busy with all the tasks involved in looking after four horses, and having her dog with her reminds her of home in a good way.
The Claudes have three children (Roger, Jackie and Miriam) who each have a horse or pony. Mrs Claude also has a cob called Hop Scotch.
Jackie’s pony Pierrot is a grey at 12.2.
Roger isn’t that interested in riding and spends time away at boarding school. Lucky Star is a famous jumper, and Janet has heard of him already.
Miriam’s horse Corrymeela is a grey, 15.3 and is described by her as being a horse she can ride at Badminton.
There is a quite a variety in ages. Janet herself is almost the same age as Roger, who is thirteen. Miriam is older than that but still at school. She and Jackie go to a day school locally.
Janet is very capable and full of enthusiasm. She asserts herself with her employer in terms of time off to visit the friends she makes locally, but is also willing to pitch in and help with activities such as fruit picking which aren’t a part of her job.
She enjoys her time in the area, making friends with two young women of her own age who she teaches to ride. She has a natural flair for teaching, and is also diligent enough to learn first aid, which comes in handy.
The horsey society of the area is presented as open and welcoming to a young woman from the city who has learned to ride, is willing to help and keen to learn more.
Janet is an inspiring character for the age range of the intended readership. It is fascinating at that age to think about what happens after childhood when the need to earn a living takes over from carefree years of riding.
Janet Must Ride provides an example of how a desire to work with horses can become reality for a young adult with a good work ethic and friendly manner regardless of whether they come from a horsey background.
I enjoyed Janet Must Ride very much.
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