Patience McElwee: The Merrythoughts

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Patricia Leitch: Afraid to Ride

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Patricia Leitch: Dream of Fair Horses

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Patricia Leitch: Highland Pony Trek

Originally published: 1964
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Patricia Leitch: The Horse from Black Loch

Originally published: 1963
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Ruby Ferguson: A Stable for Jill

The Jill series is one of the classics of pony fiction. In this second book, disaster has hit Jill’s plans. No pony-filled summer for her: her mother is going to America, and so Jill must go and stay with her defiantly un-horsy cousin, Cecilia. Cecilia’s idea of a good summer pursuit is pressing flowers. It’s not Jill’s. But there is hope on the horizon, when Jill meets a family who are desperate to find a way they can keep their pony. Jill suggests they all get together and start their own stable. There are a few minor problems to be got over: the fact they only have one pony to start the stable with, for one. The tatty state of the stables doesn’t help either, but this is a Jill book, and horses and ponies do appear.

Full of Ruby Ferguson’s trademark humour, this story sees Jill brilliantly contrasted with Cecilia. And ponies there are, in plenty.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill and the Perfect Pony

Amanda Applewood asks Jill to stay with the Locketts, a family who need an extra member for a riding competition. Jill can even borrow Amanda’s perfect pony, Plum. When Jill gets there, she finds Amanda has not been entirely truthful and that there’s quite a lot she hasn’t told the Locketts.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill Enjoys Her Ponies (Jill and the Runaway)

Jill is sunk in gloom. All her plans have been utterly ruined. She cannot ride at Chatton Show because she has hurt her wrist swinging the hen bucket. But although she has to miss the show, Jill doesn’t remain downcast for long, because the summer holidays stretch before her and her friends. They’ll help organise the fete at Blossom Hall, for a start. Then Dinah Dean appears: a neglected child who is desperate to ride, and who produces some very conflicted emotions in Jill. Jill’s conscience tells her to help Dinah, but Dinah is, frankly, embarrassing. But despite herself, Jill helps Dinah, which results in some very unexpected events.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill Has Two Ponies

Jill has been dreaming of getting another pony, and here she is, with her prospective new pony in front of her. There’s just one problem. Jill doesn’t take to Rapide, and Rapide doesn’t take to her. But Jill buys him, and then immediately regrets it. How Jill gets over her dislike of Rapide, while managing to save Mrs Darcy’s riding school with her friends , makes this a classic of pony literature.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill’s Gymkhana

“This is a wonderful, nostalgic book.”

Jill Crewe has just moved to Chatton. School hasn’t yet started and she has nothing to do, so she makes friends with a pony down the road. When the farmer offers to let Jill buy the pony, she is distraught. She knows she and her mother can’t afford it. But then her mother sells the serial rights to one of her books, and Black Boy becomes Jill’s. There’s just one problem: Jill doesn’t know how to ride, can’t afford lessons, and she doesn’t know how to look after Black Boy either. How she learns to do both make this one of the most successful and well-loved pony books of all time. Jill is instantly recognisable. She gets things wrong, she’s by no means perfect, but she’s funny, sparky and we all feel we could be Jill.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill’s Pony Trek

Jill decides to tell her readers about one of her earlier adventures: a pony trek.

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Ruby Ferguson: Jill’s Riding Club

What do you do when the whole of the summer stretches before you? You start a riding club, that’s what. Although with help from people like Mercy Dulbottle, Cecilia, and Clarissa Dandleby, you might wonder why you bothered.

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