H F & G Witherby, London, 1961Illus E B Mudge Marriott
The Milkman’s Cob, June M Grove’s only pony book, is a title which you could have picked up easily and cheaply a few years ago, but it has now become rarer and more expensive. It is about a young girl who loses her jumping pony Larke so stops riding, until the local dairy converts to modern vans and ‘Happy’ the Milkman’s cob is to be sold. It is a lovely story of his transformation from pulling a float to winning at the Horse of the Year Show in the junior jumping. It’s told in the first person, by four different narrators, which at first I thought would prove irritating, but June Groves does get enough differentiation into her characters to make this work.
Unlike many pony stories where the most pedestrian pony clears 3’ 6” with ease, Happy’s clearance of a 5’ 3” hedge is completely convincing, particularly as this so shatters his rider that she has to be slowly and gently persuaded back into jumping anything again, let alone a fence over 5 feet. The illustrations don’t do the book the favours perhaps they might, but if you can manage to get hold of this book it is well worth the read.
Many thanks to Hannah Fleetwood for the information on the book, and to Amanda Dolby for the picture.
June M Groves