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Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood, who wrote this section.
A not so well known pony book author, Jo Furminger has eight pony books to her credit, forming the popular, but often scarce, Blackbirds series.
Jo Furminger was born in Coventry in 1932. She began riding at the quite mature age of 12, when she had A Pony For Jean by Joanna Cannan for a birthday present and read it nine times! She regularly cycled 16 miles one day a week to ride her favourite pony but never owned her own.
She wrote her first full length pony story at 14, which was kindly criticised by a sympathetic publisher and she had to wait some years more before she got one into print. After leaving school she went to college and trained as a teacher. She taught until the birth of her daughter, Justine, in 1962, and then returned to part time teaching some five years later, teaching KS 1.
Her daughter inherited her love of horses, not to mention talent as a writer, and competed regularly as well as becoming an accomplished author herself at a young age. Justine read Modern European History at university and also found time to write and get into print her first pony book, Bobbie Takes The Reins in 1981 and its sequel Bobbie’s Sponsored Ride, in 1982.
Jo Furminger wrote several other children’s books, although none of them were horsey.
The Blackbirds Series
Claire Forrester had once been pony mad. But that came to an abrupt stop when she and her mount parted company on a trek. So the discovery that her new home came complete with a resident pony was NOT good news. But surprises are in store for Claire, particularly when she finds herself a founder member of the Blackbirds pony group.[From the DW of Pony At Blackbird Cottage]
This and the following seven books followed the adventures, trials and tribulations of various members of the group.
Finding the books
The first three titles were reprinted in pb by Knight in 1980 and are relatively easy, and cheap, to source. The other five books, to my knowledge, were never re-printed and are therefore much harder to find, and command high prices, Gallop and Midnight Horse being the rarest and most expensive.
Links and sources
Many thanks to Annette York and Sarah Beasley for their help with the pictures.