Amy Brown’s Ponies

Cover of Jade and the strayAmy Brown, the author of the Pony Tales series, told us about her ponies in 2012:

The first pony I rode was called Johnny.  The size of a St Bernard dog, and brownish black, Johnny was a Timor pony, who belonged, I think, to a family that lived a few baches down from ours. I don’t remember exactly, because I was four years old at the time. This memory comes mostly from a photo of myself in a sundress, sitting on Johnny’s back, my jandals dangling next to his sides as Dad leads him along Ocean Beach.  I do remember being enchanted by Johnny’s kind, dark eyes with the sun-bleached lashes, and his sweet, horsy smell.

This, Mum tells me, was the beginning of the obsession.  Dad bought himself a dapple-grey gelding called Poncho.  He kept his horse at Mahara Riding School, run by a man called Mr Green. Mr Green ate molasses (a black syrup) on bread and slept in the tack room.  He lived with his horses and knew, I thought, everything about them.  Soon, Dad wanted to go to shows, sports days and one-day events.  He needed a horse float and a vehicle heavy enough to tow a horse float. Edward, our yellow sedan, would not do.

When a farmer called Mr White advertised a horse float and Ford Falcon in the Classifieds section of the newspaper, my father called him.  At the inspection, we decided the car should be named The Shark, as it was great and white.  Before we left, Mr White asked my father, ‘Would your daughter like a pony, to go with the float?’ Dad looked at me. It had been agreed that I would not have a pony of my own until I was at least eight. I was five. But, a little bay gelding called Twinks was being offered for free! He was sixteen years old and needed a retirement home, so we took him to Mahara Riding School to live with Poncho and Mr Green’s many horses.

Like Jade, the heroine of Pony Tales, opens a new window, I acquired my first pony unexpectedly. The only other things I have in common with Jade are being an only child and loving pony books, especially old English ones like Jill’s Gymkhana, National Velvet and Pony Club Cup.  As a ten-year-old I read a range of books; I enjoyed Roald Dahl, opens a new windowMargaret Mahy, opens a new window, Maurice Gee, opens a new window and Jack Lasenby, opens a new window.  But, when I’d had my tonsils out and needed comfort, I reached for an old favourite with a horse on the cover.  I wrote four books about Jade’s adventures with her ponies Pip and Taniwha because when I was younger this was the kind of book I most enjoyed reading.