Book name: Pony Jobs for Jill
Author: Ruby Ferguson
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Format: ebook, print
Genre: Vintage children’s fiction, pony books
Publication Date: 1960
Star Rating: 5/5
Jill was one of my favourite pony book heroines when I was a child, and my cherished Knight Books imprint saw me through my childhood years and is still sitting on my bookshelf today along with the others in the series.
The first book, Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson, saw Jill acquire her first pony before she had any idea how to ride or care for her pony. She also later acquires a second pony, Rapide.
Pony Jobs for Jill is the sixth book in the series by publication date. However, it is the last book in the series chronologically speaking in that it ends with Jill setting off into the world of work.
I remember feeling desolate when Pony Jobs for Jill concluded, because it seemed like the entire narrative had ended and we would never see Jill again.
Thankfully, Ruby Ferguson went on to produce another three Jill stories after this one set in earlier times.
Jill and her best friend Ann Derry are sixteen and have left school. Neither has any sense of future direction, other than a desire to avoid domesticity (Jill) and flower arranging (Ann) and to carry on riding as much as possible.
They land a job training New Forest ponies for a fledgling riding school and head down there to begin work.
Captain Sound and his wife are utterly impractical and seem to have no understanding of ponies or running a business. Money is tight, and decent food seldom provided unless they order and cook it themselves, but Jill and Ann buckle under to train the nine unbroken ponies that the captain has bought at auction.
Four are released back into the wild on the grounds that Ann and Jill can’t manage so many animals, and they then settle down to break the remaining ponies.
They make reasonable progress until the captain leaves the paddock gate open by mistake and the ponies vanish into the night never to be seen again.
The two subsequent pony jobs prove to be far less strenuous, and Jill and Ann have learnt from their trusting approach to their first job.
One of the things I liked most about Pony Jobs for Jill was how Ruby Ferguson illustrates the blurred line between working with horses as a young adult and being a capable child rider who helps others get the best out of their ponies.
Ann and Jill love their jobs because they are so similar to the activities they participated in when they were slightly younger.
I was saddened by the growing sense that these good things couldn’t last. I was not at all surprised (though very disappointed) to reach the final page and learn that secretarial training lay ahead for Ann and Jill.
It just seemed like a boring career choice, mostly because it didn't involve horses at all. Luckily, Ruby Ferguson makes no attempt to show us what that would look like.
The Jill series gave us so much reading pleasure then and now that I am simply thankful to Ruby Ferguson for giving us one of the most original pony heroines I can think of.
Thank you for reading my review of Pony Jobs for Jill by Ruby Ferguson.
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