Berrisford, Judith M

The author

Judith M Berrisford was a joint name used by writers Clifford and Mary Lewis, writers of animal books for children. It is, I assume, Mary Lewis who is pictured as Judith M Berrisford on the jackets of the books. Judith M Berrisford didn’t write as many books as say Christine Pullein-Thompson, but she wrote one of the longest British pony series. The American Black Stallion series, and of course the endless Saddle Club, outrank it, but Jackie lasted for 16 titles, comfortably beating both Jill (9) and Georgia (10).

go to finding the books

go to bibliography

Jackie managed to fulfil many girls’ dreams by actually winning her pony. Many years ago Pony magazine used to run a Win a Pony competition. As you had to get your parents’ permission to enter the competition, I never managed to get an entry in, despite what I thought were some pretty good ideas for the tie breaker caption competition, but Jackie’s parents were more accommodating: she entered a magazine’s competition and won a pony. Although she is taken to a dealer’s yard and shown some wonderful ponies, she meets Misty outside the stables pulling a cart. Misty, contrary to the usual lot of ponies pulling carts in pony books, is not downtrodden. Jackie falls in love with her and Misty is hers.

Jackie and Misty, together with Jackie’s cousin Babs, go on to have a whole series of adventures, though many of them seem biased towards trekking. Jackie and Babs are great rushers in, and seem to have a fatal ability to irritate the adults with whom they come into contact – and, I admit, me. Even as a child I wanted to bellow ‘THINK!’ at them, but the girls despite their ability to be tooth-grindingly infuriating, both have essentially kind and generous natures, and it is this I think which gives the books their charm.

The Jackie books are not overtly didactic: schooling your pony and improving yourself generally are not things the girls go in for. Judith Berrisford did make one excursion into the didactic with her Family series: marketed by Hodder at the time as educational it certainly is, but one sad side-effect of the need to educate is to make the character of the elder sister, Jane, almost unbearable. She seems to patronise her hapless younger sister Penny at every turn. In real life I have a strong suspicion Penny would not have borne it and upended the tack cleaning bucket on her sister’s head. ‘That would be makeshift,’ Jane says, ‘We must remember to do this before and after every ride… We must be sure to clean our tack after every ride…’ And of course they must. She’s quite right; but it’s the way in which it’s announced from on high that irks.

Jane isn’t alone in this: every character who has something to impart does it in the same way. A better writer would have handled it with a lighter touch; Ruby Ferguson in Jill’s Gymkhana puts over basic pony care through Jill’s general hopelessness and self-deprecation, and the knowledge slips effortlessly in.

As a writer, Judith M Berrisford has some irritating stylistic quirks: the word ‘pony’ is used as an adjective with abandon. Her characters do things that now make me goggle, though they passed me by at the time. In The Ponies Next Door, new ponies are bought and go out on rides almost instantly, without any settling in. The most staggering example in this book (of which I am actually fond: it has a lot of charm) happens when the stables are persuaded to stable a baby elephant, and it only seems to occur to the owners and their child helpers after the event that putting the elephant in the same hallway as the ponies (the overflow of ponies are stabled in the house) is not a good idea.

Most of Judith Berrisford’s characters are enthusiastic and uncomplicated. They’re not given to introspection, but have uncomplicated adventures in which everything always works out. As comfort reading they succeed admirably, which is probably why the author had such a long career, with some of the Jackie books being reprinted even in the 1990s, when the classic pony book was generally on the way out.

Thank you to Susan Bourgeau, Dawn Harrison, Hannah Fleetwood, Konstanze Allsopp, Jacquie Aucott and Roger Thomas, who between them supplied most of the photographs for this section.


Jackie Won a Pony
Ten Ponies and Jackie
Jackie’s Pony Patrol
Jackie and the Pony Trekkers
Jackie’s Pony Camp Summer
Jackie and the Pony Boys
Jackie’s Show Jumping Surprise
Jackie and the Misfit Pony
Jackie on Pony Island
Jackie and the Pony Thieves
Jackie and the Phantom Ponies
Jackie and the Moonlight Pony
Jackie and the Pony Rivals
Jackie and the Missing Showjumper
Change Ponies, Jackie!
Jackie’s Steeplechase Adventure

A Pony in the Family
A Colt in the Family
A Showjumper in the Family

Pony Trekkers Go Home
Sabotage at Stableways
Pippa’s Mystery Horse
Too Many Ponies for Pippa
Pippa and the Midnight Ponies

Sue and Ballita
Sue’s Circus Horse
Ponies All Summer
Sue’s TV Pony

Finding the books

go to the titles available from Jane Badger Books

Finding the originals

As there are so many, I’ve categorised them. Titles mentioned are hardbacks: all the paperback titles are pretty easy to find.
Very difficult: Five Foals and Philippa, Jackie’s Steeplechase Adventure, Red Rocket—Mystery Horse
Difficult: Timber, Change Ponies Jackie (HB), Sue’s TV Pony
Average: Sue’s Circus Horse (hb), The Ponies Next Door, Ponies All Summer, Pony Forest Adventure, Trouble at Ponyways, most of the Jackie hardbacks, the Family series, Nobody’s Pony
Very common: all the paperbacks

Bibliography (pony books only)


University of London Press, 1950, illus Caney
White Lion, hb, 1974

John Lambert was given the chestnut colt he called Timber, though he couldn’t be said to be a rider. John, by “patience, trail and error” improved his riding, and that, together with Timber’s jumping ability, proved successful, in spite of Anthony Montagu and his thoroughbred, Centaur.

Sue’s Circus Horse

University of London Press, 1951, illus Leslie Atkinson
Dodd, Mead & Co, NY, 1952
Hodder & Stoughton, 1961
White Lion, 1975
Dragon pb

Sue buys the cream Arabian mare Ballita from a circus.


University of London Press, 1952, illus Leslie Atkinson, 152 pp.

A half tamed red stallion appears with the moorland ponies on Exmoor. Dick and Heather and their friends the Manners children discover the paw-marks of a monkey. They set out to track Red Rocket, as they have named him. Eventually they find Red Rocket’s elusive owner.

The Ponies next door

Univ London Press, London, 1954, illus Geoffrey Whittam, 191 pp.
Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, 1954, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Hampton Library, 1965 hb
White Lion, hb, 1975

The Grey children are thrilled when the Grange Riding Stables opens next door to their house.  There are plenty of adventures, including a sea rescue and an Elizabethan pageant.  And an elephant stabled in the hall.

Ponies All Summer

University of London Press, 1956, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Dragon pb. 1980s?

To raise money to keep their three ponies while their parents are economising, the Trent children decide to run a pet service.

Pony Forest Adventure

University of London, 1957, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Dragon pb, prob 1970s

Rustlers are robbing the forest of its ponies, and Pat, Vicky, David, Sally and her brother Nigel help to rescue them.

Jackie Won a Pony

Hodder & Stoughton, 1958, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Hodder (laminated boards), 1972, illus Whittam
Armada, pb, 1970s
Knight, 1992 pb

Jackie wins a pony after she wins a competition in Horseshoes magazine. She chooses Misty, a pony she sees pulling a cart, and then after she finds she has nowhere to keep her, she rides to her Aunt Di’s in the pony forest, only to find herself joined by Babs and a horse she has rescued and hopes Aunt Di will take on.

Ten Ponies and Jackie

Brockhampton Press, 1959, illus Geoffrey Rose
Armada, pb, 1972later Armada printing

Jackie and Babs help Terry, who has taken over a riding stable with nine ponies. The girls in their enthusiasm just about manage to wreck Terry’s

A Pony in the Family

Brockhampton, 1959, illus Anne Gordon, reprint 1961
Knight, Leicester, 1979, pb, other reprint, date uncertain

Two girls, Jane and her younger sister Penny, get a pony and learn to look after her and ride. This book was written to teach those with no knowledge, and the way in which this is done will either infuriate or charm.

Trouble at Ponyways

University of London Press, 1960, illus Elisabeth Grant
White Lion, London, hb, 1974
Dragon, London, 1977 pb

Mike Dashmore, show jumper, owns Ponyways. Mike has just married, and although his wife is also a famous show jumper, she manages to antagonise just about all of the guests there.

Jackie’s Pony Patrol

Brockhampton, Leicester, 1961, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada pb, prob 1970s
Armada pb, prob 1980s

Jackie and Babs form a pony patrol to look for Lenny, whom they want to reform after he has been caught stealing. Lenny’s father is furious at their interference and turns their ponies loose in the forest.

Nobody’s Pony

University of London Press, 1962, illus John Ward RA, pb

No description available yet.

A Colt in the Family

Brockhampton, Leic, 1962, illus Anne Gordon
White Lion, London, HB, 1975
Knight, pb,1975 (cover David Cox Studios), 1977

Penny now owns Rusty, but at first breaking him in proves beyond her and even her sister Jane.


Burke, London, 1963, illus Barbara Crocker

Philippa and Joy are staying with their Aunt Pat at Old Farm, but they soon have to help cousin Mike run the Pony Farm alone. There is competition for the Farm in the shape of Zena Gregson who has turned her riding school into a Welsh Pony Stud, and Philippa and friends are determined Old Farm will not close down. The first foal of the five born is called Golden Boy, a name JMB re-used in one of the Jackie series. She did in fact re-use the entire plot in a later Jackie story.

Jackie and the Pony Trekkers

Hodder & Stoughton, 1963, illus Geoffrey Whittam, reprint 1973
Armada, London, pb, 1971, 1974, 1978, 1992

Jackie and Babs are thrilled by the prospect of helping at a pony trekking centre in the Welsh mountains. Misty is denounced as a kicker, and Jackie and Babs take the blame for the many things that go wrong. In the end, they manage to redeem themselves.

Sue’s TV Pony

Hutchinson, 1964, illus Sheila Rose
Ulverscroft Large Print, 1965
prob a Dragon pb reprint

Sue stumbles across a circus filming close to her home and she and Ballita end up being in the film.

A Show Jumper In The Family

Brockhampton Press, 1964 illus Anne Gordon
White Lion, hb, 1974
Knight, pb, 1978

Penny and Jane now both have ponies and are keen to start showjumping, but neither parent is keen. Pa says it’s too expensive, and Mama too dangerous. Well, nobody would learn anything, would they, if it was left at that, so the two girls make their own jumps, and eventually persuade their parents to let them enter a local show, but unfortunately their parents’ worst fears are recognised when Penny has a terrible fall.

Jackie’s Pony Camp Summer

Brockhampton, 1968, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Reprinted in hb
pb editions: Armada 1980s
Reprinted as: Jackie and the Pony Camp Summer
Knight pb 1992
and in Jackie: Two Pony Tales, Knight, pb, 1996 (with Jackie and the Pony Boys)

Jackie and Babs are thrilled because they are going to Sandbeach Pony Camp. Paul Wayne, the brother of the camp’s organiser, seems determined to dislike them. Misty nearly drowns, and then Jackie discovers Paul’s unhappy secret. He runs away and then when they look for him, Misty is badly injured. Only Paul can save the day.

Jackie and the Pony Boys

Brockhampton Press, Leicester, 1970
Collins, 1973
Knight, 1992 (Pony Boys)
and in Jackie: Two Pony Tales, Knight, pb, 1996, with Jackie’s Pony Camp Summer

“Trouble follows you wherever you go,” says Derek. (It doesn’t slacken off any in the rest of the series: be warned.) A “war” erupts between the boys and girls.


Brockhampton Press, 1973, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada, pb, 1972

Grand National winner Golden Boy is coming to Folly Farm, home of the Rowlands family. It looks as if romance will blossom between Aunt Di, who has come to Cherry Trees to look after the girls, and Steve Rowlands, but his daughter Carol isn’t keen on the idea at all.

Jackie and the Misfit Pony

Hodder & Stoughton, 1975, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada pb, 1977

Jackie and Babs are going to spend another holiday at Pinewoods, but their friend Molly is involved in a strange family crisis. The pony Freckles might have to be shot if she can’t be controlled. Then, after Jackie and Freckles ride into an accident, Freckles and Molly disappear….

Jackie on Pony Island

Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada, pb, 1979
Knight, pb, 1992

Jackie and Babs find a riderless Shetland on the beach. His rider, Robin, and his family are staying on Pony Island, and trying to make money for their ponies’ winter keep by giving pony rides. Now Robin is out of action, Jackie and Babs are keen to help. Then someone steals the takings…

Jackie and the Moonlight Pony

Hodder & Stoughton, 1977, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada pb, 1980, 1982

A pony passes by at midnight with muffled hooves, and Babs and Jackie are determined to find out why his blonde boy rider has to ride him in secret. It turns out they are not the only ones on the trail of the boy.

Jackie and the Pony Thieves

Hodder & Stoughton, 1978, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada, 1980, pb

Jackie and Babs go to stay with friends in the New Forest, only to find themselves up against thieves after the ponies. Everyone has been told by the police not to tackle the thieves direct (you can probably guess who doesn’t take any notice). Jackie and friends manage to mistakenly lay ambush to the police and confuse a famous actor with the villain. There’s also the added complication of Danny Garton, who may or may not be a reformed character.

Jackie and the Phantom POnies

Hodder & Stoughton, 1979, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada, pb, 1979, 1981
Knight, 1992 pb

Jackie and Babs are spending their holidays on David Browning’s Stud Farm in the Lake District. Three ponies have disappeared, as have David’s broodmare and stallion. The girl groom says it’s the girls’ fault, but Jackie and Babs are determined to find out what is really going on.

Jackie and the Pony Rivals

Hodder & Stoughton, 1981, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada, 1983 pb

Jackie and Babs are staying on a Scottish stud for their holidays, but then Mrs Duncan, the owner, is taken ill, and the girls have to step into the breach.  They have to contend with interfering Elspeth Gordon, Mrs Duncan’s most deadly rival, to try and save the pony farm.

Sabotage at Stableways

Knight, pb, 1982
Severn House, hb, 1982

Someone is trying to discredit Stableways: a cut stirrup leather is the first mishap. Then there are deliberate attempts to hurt the ponies, and Pippa begins to wonder if Stableways will even be able to muster a team to compete at Boxheath Trials.

Pony-Trekkers Go Home!

Knight, pb, 1983
Severn House, 1982

Pippa is spending three weeks’ holiday at her Aunt Carol’s trekking centre in Scotland. Local Lord Glencairn allows Pippa and her brother Pete to ride his expensive ponies, but they wonder why famous showjumpers are stabled there, and why the village is so against the trekking centre.

Jackie and the Missing Showjumper

Hodder & Stoughton, 1982, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada pb, 1984

Jackie and Babs are excited when they get a Christmas job looking after a pop star’s show jumper, but a young relation of his seems to have a real down on the girls, and then Damson Gin, the show jumper, is kidnapped….

Pippa’s Mystery HOrse

Knight, pb, 1983
Severn House, 1983, hb

Pippa and her brother Pete rescue a shipwrecked horse – an appaloosa. He has obviously been badly treated, although he is very well schooled. Pippa hopes she can find the horse’s real owner.

Change Ponies, Jackie!

Hodder & Stoughton, 1983, illus Geoffrey Whittam
Armada pb, 1985

Everything is going wrong for Jackie. Although she’s just qualified for the National Horse Trials she is too old by two days, and then Babs is chosen to ride Misty in the competition. Jackie, however, is asked to join the Star family in the senior team, but disaster strikes.

Too Many Ponies for Pippa

Severn House hb, 1984
Knight, pb, 1984

Pippa is helping out on a West Country pony farm, but then some visitors arrive with yet more ponies. Is it just coincidence that they’ve arrived when sheep and pony rustlers are operating in the area, although they seem very helpful?  Pippa becomes more and more convinced that the ponies on the farm are in danger.


Hodder & Stoughton, 1984, illus D E Walduck

Jackie discovers her new neighbour, Mr Gilmore, owns steeplechasers, but (of course) her and Babs’ offer of help is misinterpreted. Someone is determined to harm the best of the steeplechasers, and Jackie and Babs are equally determined to stop them.


Severn House, 1985, hb
Knight, 1995, pb

Pippa’s brother Pete is lent his friend Mark’s black gelding, but Pippa has a premonition of disaster about the whole thing. It seems she’s right when they find out that Mark disappeared on the eve of going on holiday, Hero goes missing, and someone’s taking ponies out on midnight rides…

Bibliography (short stories)

Judith M Berrisford was a prolific writer of short stories, at least in the earlier part of her career. She also contributed several serials to magazines. There are bound to be more short stories I haven’t yet tracked down.

Silver Star
Pony Magazine, September 1950 – serial, number of parts unknown

Pedro, the Terrible
Riding Magazine, 1946, July-August, serial, illus Cavesson

Hounds Meet at Wits End
Pony Magazine, March 1952, illus Maurice Tulloch

Young Brother
Pony  Magazine, February 1953, illus Audrey Hiles

Pony Club Annual 4, 1953, illus Charlotte Hough

Hounds Please!
Pony Club Annual, 1953, illus Joan Wanklyn

Pony Magazine, January 1954, illus Maurice Tulloch

Rustlers in the New Forest
Pony Magazine 1954, March-July, five part serial, illus Harold Beards

Out of this World
Pony Magazine 1961, July- ? Serial, illus Harold Beards