Leitch, Patricia

About the author

Patricia Leitch (1933–2015) had a varied career, working as a teacher, librarian, riding instructor and maid before she settled down to writing. She is, thanks to her Jinny series, a must-read author if you want to do a serious study of how the pony book genre developed.

Go to finding the books

Before she wrote about Jinny, Patricia Leitch had produced a solid range of good pony stories, including four books for the Collins Spitfire imprint under the name Jane Eliot. Patricia didn’t feel she had to follow pony book conventions: Riding Course Summer has the heroine starting off without a pony, but still without one at the end. Dream of Fair Horses doesn’t see the show pony Perdita ending up with the rider who loves her, by some neat plot trick. Its heroine, Gill Caridia, is moving away from the seemingly idyllic country life by the end of the book.

the jinny books

Jinny, the heroine of the twelve-book-long series, is in many ways not a conventional pony book heroine. Jill Crewe, heroine of Ruby Ferguson’s Jill series, and an equally popular figure in pony fiction, is remarkably free of teenage sturm und drang, but Jinny has all those insecurities and temperamental fits in spades. Jinny and her Arab mare, Shantih are well matched. They are both temperamental: neither of them like listening to anyone other than themselves.

Jinny’s early history with Shantih is one of hopeless longing. She longs to be able to ride the mare, but cannot. To make her hopelessness as a rider even more obvious, Ken, who lives with them, can handle Shantih effortlessly.

The series succeeds because Jinny is a very recognisable teenager, and her longings and desires are ones most pony mad children will have had. Jinny succeeds in combining wish fulfilment (her Arab mare) with being a completely identifiable figure, often making mistakes, and sometimes blundering through life until she is confronted with her prejudices.

The Kestrels series, for younger readers, contained Patricia’s last books: a much tamer affair than the Jinnies.

Sources and links
The Jinny books: all the covers part one
The Jinny books: all the covers part two
Biographical information in the Jinny books
Patricia Leitch – an interview
How the Jinny books came to be republished by Catnip
Susanna Forrest’s If Wishes Were Horses has a chapter on Patricia Leitch
Photographs of Pat, and the tribute read at her funeral
Obituary of Patricia Leitch, Herald, Scotland, 4 August 2015, retrieved 15.08.15
Acknowledgments:  thank you to Hannah, Claire, Susan, Fiona and Cheryl for all their help with the pictures, and to Helen McKinnon for the information about the German translations.

Finding the books

What’s in print now?

Go to the Patricia Leitch titles available from Jane Badger Books

Finding the originals

Rosette for Royal, the Collins Pony Library Jacky Jumps to the Top, and Janet Young Rider are the hardest books to find. None of them are impossible, but they can be expensive. The other Collins Pony Library titles:  Rebel Pony, First Pony, Pony Surprise and Afraid to Ride are all becoming more scarce now, and becoming more expensive. The Jane Eliot titles can be expensive. The other non-series titles are all reasonably easy to find and not generally expensive. Titles published in paperback are plentiful and cheap.

The Jinny series:  all usually widely available, though the hardback editions are very scarce and now getting pricey.
The Kestrels series:  all usually widely available, and reasonably priced.

Series

The Jinny Books
For Love of a Horse
A Devil to Ride
The Summer Riders
Night of the Red Horse
Gallop to the Hills
Horse in a Million
The Magic Pony
Ride Like The Wind
Chestnut Gold
Jump for the Moon
Horse of Fire
Running Wild

Kestrels
UK/USA
The Special Pony/The Perfect Horse
A Pony to Jump/Jumping Lessons
Cross-Country Gallop
Pony Club Rider
The Stolen Pony/Show Jumper Wanted
Pony Puzzle/Mystery Horse






Bibliography


TO SAVE A PONY

Hutchinson, London, 1960, illus Sheila Rose

The Dallas family moved to Scotland and took over Feyton Mill Farm, and started a riding school. All of them had to work very hard, even Jane, who was writing a book until she found the grey pony, and saving her became the most important thing in her life.

Hutchinson, 1960
A PONY OF OUR OWN

Blackie & Son 1960, illus Constance Marshall
Reprinted by Blackie in their ‘orange’ edition.
Knight Books, 1971
Knight Books, 1979

Jean and Stuart Donaldson slowly and painfully earn the pony to buy their own pony: Kirsty, a Highland mare.

THE BLACK LOCH

Collins, London, 1963, illus Janet Duchesne
Children’s Book Club, 1963
As The Horse From Black Loch, Funk & Wagnalls, 1968, cover Carolyn Cather Armada, London, pb, 1979
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2019, eBook and paperback

Kay, and her cousins Sara and Edgar are visiting their Scottish cousins at Deersmalen. The Deersmalen family have a mysterious secret: The One in the Black Loch. Kay discovers this is a horse, but unfortunately the treacherous Edgar discovers it too, and tries to make money out of it. Kay and her Deersmalen cousins fight to save the horse from captivity.

RIDING COURSE SUMMER

Collins, London, 1963
Children’s Press, London, 1968, laminated boards, 187 pp.
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2023, eBook and paperback

Ann and Angy know they are both hopeless riders.  Mr Winton, who owned the local riding school, wasn’t actually interested in teaching children to ride himself, so the girls, after being spoken to bracingly by Ann’s father, decide to start a riding club.

a rosette for royal

Blackie, London, 1963, illus Anne Linton

Cassandra Leigh sees Royal Flame, a chestnut mare, and wants her. She buys her, but then after an accident, Cassandra’a aunt and uncle send Flame back to the person she was bought from. Cassandra swears that she will buy Flame back.

JANET YOUNG RIDER

Janet Young Rider, Constable, London, 1963. 176 pp, cover Douglas Hall
As Last Summer To Ride, Funk & Wagnalls, 1963, cover Joseph Cellini
As A Horse for the Holidays, Armada, London

Janet has promised her parents she will go for a steady job (i.e. something not horse-related) at the end of the summer holidays. During the holidays she helps out at a riding school, but after a horrible accident to the owner, she has to take on much more responsibility than she bargained for. Jim’s stay in hospital means Janet also gets to ride Meridian, even though at first this doesn’t go well.

HIGHLAND PONY TREK

Collins, London, 1964, cover Geoffrey Whittam
Collins Seagull, London
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2021, eBook

Fiona, Morag and Neil McKean think they will have to sell their Highland house, until they hit on the ideaof turning it into a pony trekking centre.  Even then, everything is not plain sailing, particularly when theponies escape one day.  They run riot over Colonel Gray’s land, and he forbids them from using hisestate for their treks:  and without it their venture looks doomed.

CROSS-COUNTRY PONY

Blackie, 1965
Knight, pb, 1978
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2023

The Morton children, an enterprising lot though short of money, start up a business – a Pets’ Holiday Home. However, their canine guests cause chaos, and Harold the pony has wicked little eyes and a nature to match. Harold, however, has one great talent.

FIRST PONY

Originally published under the name Jane Eliot in 1967, Spitfire pb
Collins Pony Library, London, 1973

Sandy moves to the country, and the new house has a paddock, a stable, and evensome jumps: now Sandy can fulfil her dream of having a pony. However, the expensive ponies she sees just don’t seem right, and then she meets Karen, who tells her about Tarka, skin and bone after a cold winter out. Sandy buys Tarka, but then there is a struggle before she is fit.

JACKY JUMPS TO THE TOP

Initially printed as Collins Spitfire pb, 1967, as Jane Eliot
Collins Pony Library, London, 1973
As Jump to the Top, Armada, London, pb, 1973
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2023

Jacky has been promised that she can jump the black mare Flicka,but then Miss Henderson has to sell up the riding school. CeliaGrunter, who is certain to ruin Flicka, wants her too.

PONY CLUB CAMP

Collins Spitfire, London, pb, 1967 under the name Jane Eliot

This is another Pony Club in need of a bit of help. Dr Brogan can see it needs a bit more life, so he organises a Pony Club Camp, with the usual series of ups and downs.

AFRAID TO RIDE

Originally published under the name Jane Eliot, Spitfire, pb, 1967
Collins Pony Library, 1974
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2021

Jill has been put off riding by an accident at a bad riding school, but when she goesto stay with her cousins and their Aunt Jo, she is faced with ponies everywhere. Then she discovers the Fell Digory in a field. He has been condemned as dangerous, but Jill likes him.

REBEL PONY

Collins Pony Library, London, 1973

Kandy Kerrack is the daughter of a horse dealer, so is used to having ponies sold. Then Kandy finds a chestnut part-Arab at a sale. The pony looks vicious, and Kandy’s father refuses to buy him. Kandy’s new friend, Jack, does buy the pony, and together they work on re-schooling him.

PONY SURPRISE

Collins Pony Library, London, 1974
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, 2022, eBook and paperback

Penny and Ewan live in a ponyless household (“The Macdonald household boasted a fridge and a washing machine but no pony.” ) They come across the pony Augustus, who knows how to deal with children. What Augustus likes is a nice green field, and none of this gymkhana nonsense.

DREAM OF FAIR HORSES

Collins, London, 1975
As The Fields of Praise, Lippincott, 1975
As Dream Of Fair Horses, Armada, London, pb, 1980
Jane Badger Books, Northamptonshire, eBook and pb, 2019

Gill Caridia and her family move to the country after her father’s book sells well.  There she sees Perdita, a grey show pony, andthrough the Pony Club, she meets Mr Ramsay, Perdita’s owner.  Gill learns to ride Perdita, and together they go to the top, butthere is no wonderful end to the story for Gill.

FOR LOVE OF A HORSE

Armada Original, 1976, 125 pp.
Severn House, 1979, hardback with dustjacket
Armada reprints: 1984, 1992, 1993
Compilation: (with For Love of a Horse and Summer Riders), Armada, 1992
Catnip, London, 2010, 210 pp.
Catnip, London, 2020

Jinny’s family are moving to Finmory in Scotland, away from urban Stopton. Jinny sees an Arab mare being terribly mistreated in a circus. The horse escapes onto the moors, and Jinny tries and tries to catch her. At last, in a bitter winter which has nearly killed the horse, she succeeds.

A Devil to Ride

Armada Original, 1976, 127 pp.
Severn House, 1980, hardback
Armada reprints: 1984, 1992, 1993
Compilation: (with For Love of a Horse and Summer Riders), Armada, 1992
Catnip, London, 2010, 176 pp.
Catnip, London, 2020

Jinny now has Shantih, but riding Shantih is a nightmare, not a dream. Whatever Jinny tries, it does not work.  Almost worse is the fact that Ken can ride her.

THE SUMMER RIDERS

Armada Original, 1977, 128 pp.
Scholastic, New York, 1977
Severn House, 1980, hardback
Armada reprints: 1983, 1984, 1992
Compilation: (with For Love of a Horse and Summer Riders), Armada, 1992
Catnip, London, 2010, 208 pp.

Jinny is looking forward to a wonderful summeron Shantih, but then finds out the Thorpe children are coming. Marlene, who is ten, wants to ride Shantih, but Jinny is vehemently against that. Jinny does at last realise that there is more to Marlene than she thought.

NIGHT OF THE RED HORSE

Armada Original, 1978, 127 pp.
Armada reprints: 1983,1988, 1993
Compilation: (with Summer Riders), Lion, 1994
Catnip, London, 2011, 208 pp.

Two archaeologists come to see the mural of a redhorse in Jinny’s room. They are hoping it’s ancient, but it’s Victorian. Whatever they think, Jinny soon finds that the red horse has a strange power, as does the statue of Epona they see in a local museum. It all melds together into an experience that, for Jinny, is absolutely terrifying.

GALLOP TO THE HILLS

Armada Original, 1979
Armada reprints: 1985, 1988, 1992
Compilation (with Red Horse, Horse in a Million), Lions, 1993
Compilation: (with Horse in a Million), Lions, 1994
Catnip, London, 2011, 208 pp.

The Manders’ dog, Kelly, has been branded a sheep killer, and is being hunted down by local farmers who want to shoot him. Then Jinny gets a dream commission painting six horses for Lady Gilbert, but she is sure she has seen wolves on their estate, and she begins to work out just who the sheep killers are.

HORSE IN A MILLION

Armada Original, 1980, 126 pp.
Severn House, 1983, hardback
Armada reprints: 1983,1988, 1992
Compilation (with Red Horse, Gallop), Lions, 1993
Compilation: (with Gallop to the Hills), Lions, 1994
Catnip, London,  2011, 192 pp.

Jinny and Sue are organising the Finmory Gymkhana, but Clare Burnley,pot hunter supreme, decides to compete. After that, two of Miss Tuke’s ponies disappear, and then Shantih disappears. ..

THE MAGIC PONY

Armada, 1982
Severn House, 1986, hardback
Armada reprints: 1985, 1992
Compilation: Three Great Jinny Stories (with
Horse in a Million & Ride Like the Wind), Armada, 1989
Compilation: (with Ride Like the Wind) Lions, 1995
Catnip, 2012, 208 pp.

Shantih is lame, and Jinny hopes that Brenda from the riding school will help. But Brenda does not love her ponies, one of whom is Easter, a ghost like, skeletal grey mare.

RIDE LIKE THE WIND

Armada Original, 1983, 156 pp.
Severn House, 1986, hardback
Armada reprints: 1988, 1990
Compilation: Three Great Jinny Stories (Horse in a Million/Magic Pony) Armada, 1989
Compilation (with Magic Pony), Lions, 1995
Catnip, 2013, 200 pp.

Mr Mander’s second book has been rejected. Nell’s shop, where the family sell pots and pictures, is closing down, and so it looks as if the Manders will have to sell Finmory.

chestnut gold

Armada, 1984
Armada reprints: 1992
Severn House, 1987
Compilation (with Jump to the Moon), Lions, 1995
Catnip Books, 2014

Jinny and Shantih are taking part in the filmingn of a TV programme, and then a strange man dressed in black appears. Jinny ends up trying to capture the dance of the golden horses in a mural.

JUMP FOR THE MOON

Armada Original, 1985
Armada reprints: 1992
Compilation (with Chestnut Gold), Lions, 1995
Catnip Books, 2015

Jinny thought she had bought Shantih from Mr Mackenzie fair and square, but now the ringmaster of the Circus Shantih came from is saying he is coming back to reclaim his horse. Then another possible owner appears, and it looks as if Jinny’s last glorious ride on Shantih will be at the Adair Show.

HORSE OF FIRE

Armada Original, 1986
Armada reprints: 1991, 1992
Compilation (with Running Wild), Lions, 1995
Catnip Books, 2016

The new minister at the local church has a plan: he wants to stage a nativity withthe three kings riding in on horses, and he asks Jinny and Shantih to take part. While they are working at this, deer poachers strike on the moors.

RUNNING WILD

Armada Original, 1988
Armada reprints: 1990, 1993
Compilation (with Horse of Fire), Lions, 1995
Catnip, 2020

The Wilton museum is going to be demolished, but the Walker has a task forJinny and Shantih: to save the mural of the dancing horses.

THE SPECIAL PONY

Lions, 1992
As The Perfect Horse, American publication
As a three-in-one with Pony to Jump and Cross-Country Gallop, Collins 1996

After the Lorimer family inherit some money, they can realise their dream of buying Kestrels, a large house in the Scottish countryside. For Sally, it means that at last she can think of having her own pony.

A PONY TO JUMP

Lions, 1992
As Jumping Lessons, American publication
As a three-in-one with Pony to Jump and Cross-Country Gallop, Collins 1996

Sally Lorimer has all of the holidays before her, and her parents sign her up for a course of jumping lessons. Sally’s friend Thalia finds this jumping business easy, but Sally just can’t do it. When they become involved in a local pageant, Sally has a deadline: she must learn to jump.

CROSS COUNTRY GALLOP

Lions, 1993
HarperCollins, New York, 1996, jacket Stephen Marchesi, 114 pp.
As three-in-one with Pony to Jump and Cross-Country Gallop, Collins 1996

There is a pairs class cross country at Tarent Show, and Sally enters with her much whizzier friend Thalia. Sally is worried: her riding style is completely different to Thalia’s, so will she be able to keep up, let alone finish?

PONY CLUB RIDER

Lions, 1993
HarperCollins, New York, 1996, jacket Stephen Marchesi, 115 pp.

Sally dreams of being on the Pony Club One Day Event Team, but she’s still scared of jumping.  

THE STOLEN PONY

Lions, 1994
As Show Jumper Wanted, American edition

Thalia’s absent father suddenly turns up. He is not the sort of father dreams are
made of:  neither of the girls trust him, and then he sells Thalia’s pony, Tarquin.

PONY PUZZLE

Lions, 1994
As Mystery Horse, American publication

Sally and Thalia discover a mysterious, and lonely horse, on its own in a field at Mr Frazer’s riding stables. Sally decides to rescue her, but she may have taken on more than she can handle.

Short stories


Midnight Stallion, in Pony Tales, pub Pony Magazine.  Illus Claire Colvin

Non-Pony

Treasure from the East
Gollancz 1966

Windows: Poems
New Leaves Press, 1978

The Adventures of Robin Hood
Armada 1983