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7 ways in which real life is no longer like a Pullein-Thompson book

Generations of pony-mad youngsters grew up on the work of sisters Diana, Josephine and Christine Pullein-Thompson, who wrote dozens of pony books between them. Their thrilling tales of pony trekking adventures, stolen ponies, riding clubs and circus stunts captivated generations of pony-mad children. They’re still great stories, and many of the books are still in print, but unfortunately they’re less believable than they once were — modern equestrian life has since become a little more complicated…

1. Thinking of setting up your own riding club? Then, all you needed was a bunch of kids on ponies. Now, you’ll need three kinds of insurance, a committee and probably a Facebook page.

2. Then, if you were under 16 and instrumental in thwarting a dangerous gang of smugglers, it was plaudits from the police and sticky buns all round. These days, your parents can probably expect a call from social services…

3. Children in the books often get lost wandering thousands of acres of open moorland. These days, you’d only have to go far enough to get a mobile phone signal and turn your GPS on, or, at a pinch, set up the what3words app and call emergency services.

4. Unfortunately, these days if you’re under 16 you’re pretty unlikely to be able to pick up a ‘no-hoper’ horse from a sales for £12, train him yourself at home and win the local one-day event. We’re not saying it’s impossible, though…

5. We’d love to think that we’d get spotted by a film crew and asked to star in a film as a stunt doubles, as happened in one of Christine’s Black Pony Inn books — we fear there may be a little bit of paperwork involved first these days, though.

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6. In Christine’s Phantom Horse series, the eponymous Phantom goes from being a wild mustang in the US to being tamed (by children), shipped back to the UK, stolen, found and much more before going on to win competitions. While it could all still be done, these days most of the first book would have been taken up with admin, microchipping, quarantine regulations, passporting and more — all at a cost of several thousand pounds.

7. In Josephine’s The Trick Jumpers, a group of children teach their ponies to do ‘trick jumping’ to put on a display at a local show, including jumping through fire. We can hear the modern local show committee fainting from here…

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