The Five Pound Pony

By Karen Bush

         I am not the ideal reader for this book, The Five Pound Pony.  I am old and grumpy, and have never in my entire life, longed for a horse, not even for a moment.
          Nevertheless, I read the whole book, in one binge, thoroughly enjoying every page.
          All of the stories are about horse-mad children -- most of them girls, but some boys. Several of them come from homes which can't afford to supply them with ponies, or even riding lessons. Yet they long for horses, dream of horses -- to misquote Tolkein, they desire horses with a profound desire. Karen Bush has the gift of conveying this longing to even such a horse-blind reader as myself.
         As a result, I identified like mad with all the characters and cheered them on. I can only conclude that a child who really is into horses, who really does fantasise about owning one, and really does hopefully add 'pony' to every Christmas list for Santa (like a girl in one of the stories), would totally love this book.
        Karen Bush is particuarly good at capturing that child-like view of the world, where innocence, optimism and longing combine to make it seem genuinely possible that a horse shoe will help you win a competition, or Santa will deliver a horse.

          As a bonus, each story is followed by a short article about something mentioned in the story. In this way, I was charmed to discover the world of model horse competitions, something I had never suspected existed. (The girl in the story makes her model horse shoes from drink-can pull-rings.)
          Other essays give tips on 'how to win a rosette,' how to raise money for horse charities and information on the Shetland Pony Grand National -- something else I knew nothing about and would rather like to see!


In short, this book wins a rosette!

          Karen Bush is a highly experienced teacher of horse-riding.
Links to her short stories, books on riding, and on the care of dogs can be found here.