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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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Jill has plans for the summer holidays, but her mother has been invited to go to America for three months to read her children’s books to summer camps: this means Jill has to go to stay with her Aunt Primrose and her cousin Cecilia, both of them resolutely unhorsey. Out on a walk, Jill meets Bar, Mike and Pat Walters, children of the vicarage, and in despair because their father wants to sell their pony, Ballerina, as they can’t afford to keep her. Jill decides the only way they can keep Ballerina is to earn money with her. There are plenty of empty stables at the vicarage, so why not start a stable? The Walters borrow three horses from their uncle, who is away. Their first clients are a mixed bag – one disappears without paying the bill – but at least there are clients. Jill’s mother has given her some money to buy a second pony, but she uses it to buy a 15hh grey mare, Begorrah, at the local horse sale. There is some money left over, and they buy the wretchedly mistreated Pedro. Cecilia has her birthday and Jill gives her Fair Isle gloves she has knitted herself – a girl of many talents. The stables go well, and they decide to put on an Open Day. The Walters’ father arrives back during the Open Day, and is rather stunned to find his vicarage turned into a stable. It has to stop (they cannot run a commercial enterprise from a vicarage). The stable’s best client, Major Foster, buys Begorrah and Pedro. He decides to give a gymkhana and tea, Ballerina does not have to be sold, and Jill’s mother arrives back early. She has met people on the boat who have a showjumper for sale…..

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The Jill series by Ruby Ferguson
Jill’s Gymkhana, 1949
A Stable for Jill, 1951
Jill Has Two Ponies, 1952
Jill Enjoys Her Ponies, 1954 (later republished as Jill and The Runaway)
Jill’s Riding Club, 1956
Rosettes for Jill, 1957
Jill and the Perfect Pony, 1959
Pony Jobs for Jill, 1960 (later republished as Challenges for Jill)
Jill’s Pony Trek, 1962

Printing history of A Stable for Jill
Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1951, illus Caney
Dodd Mead, New York, 1952, illus Caney
Foyle’s Children’s Book Club, London, date uncertain, illus Caney
Hampton Library, illus Caney
Armada, 1960s (date uncertain), illus Caney
Knight, 1968, illus Bonar Dunlop (two cover variants exist)
Knight, 1974, cover W D Underwood, internal illustrations Bonar Dunlop
Hodder, 1974, hardback with photographic cover, frontis Elisabeth Grant, internal illustrations Bonar Dunlop
Knight, 1982, illus Bonar Dunlop
Knight, 1991
Compilation: Jill’s Gymkhana and A Stable for Jill, Hodder & Stoughton, 1991
Hodder, 1993
Compilation: Jill’s Gymkhana and A Stable for Jill, Hodder & Stoughton, 1994
Hodder, 1996, cover Adrian Lascom
Fidra Books, Edinburgh, 2009, illus Caney









Year published

London, 1951




Ferguson, Ruby


Jane Badger Books