Jill and Ann are 16 and have just left school. They have six months to fill before they start training for a career. Ann has just found a job advertised for two girls knowledgeable with horses: they apply and get the job. When they reach Little Chimneys Farm, they find they are to break in nine New Forest Ponies and start a riding school with them. Captain Sound, the owner, is blithely unaware of the pitfalls to his plan. His wife is equally unaware of how to cook, and their supper is flavoured with the Jane Austen she dropped in it. Jill and Ann eventually manage to break some of the ponies, but Captain Sound leaves the gate open and all the ponies escape back to the New Forest, where they stay.
Jill and Ann’s next job is to organise a treasure hunt and musical ride for a bazaar run by Mrs York, who turns out to be Cecilia’s godmother. The musical ride is a success, with unexpectedly useful help from Cecilia, and the girls return home. Their last job is to teach a Miss Day’s nieces to ride. Norrie and Dorrie are utterly, and completely, hopeless. Jill and Ann, about to give up, spot a poster advertising an exhibition of riding by the famous Cannon twins, Noreen and Doreen Canon. They are, of course, Norrie and Dorrie. They do not want to confess to their aunt in case they upset her, and so she announces to all and sundry that the twins were taught to ride by Jill and Ann. Captain Cholly-Sawcutt is there at the exhibition, and tells Jill and Ann it is time to get themselves trained for a proper profession, and they both decide to do secretarial courses with languages.
This book was re-titled by Knight in their 1990s version as Challenges for Jill. Why I am not quite sure: maybe they felt the new title was more exciting, or less liable to being misinterpreted.
Printing history of Pony Jobs for Jill/Challenges for Jill
Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1960, illus Caney
Hampton Library, date uncertain, illus Caney
Armada, 1960s (date uncertain), cover Peter Archer, internal illustrations Caney
Armada, 1968, cover uncredited, internal illustrations Caney
Knight, 1970s, cover W D Underwood, internal illustrations Caney
Knight, 1980s, cover David Cox Studios, internal illustrations Caney
Knight, later 1980s printing, uncertain date, internal illustrations Caney
Author: Ruby Ferguson