Ponies, ponies, ponies


Pony Magazine Annual

Pony Magazine was started in 1949, by David J Murphy and Lieut-Col C E G Hope, who edited it. He continued to edit Pony, and the Annual, until his death in 1971, when Michael Williams took over.

The Pony Magazine Annual didn’t start immediately the magazine did: the earliest annual I have found connected to the magazine was Percy’s Pony Annual, published in 1953. That album has a Young Readers’ section, and it asks readers to get their contributions in early for the 1954 edition of Percy’s Pony Annual. As far as I know, this was never published. Why ever did it stop? It was a lovely piece of work: maybe the presence of Percy (a Prezwalski’s Horse) and his friends was a bit much. Percy and Allsorts carried on with their club in Pony Magazine well into the 1960s, but they had a mere third of a page. Still, for whatever reason, no more Percy annuals appeared.

Lieut-Col C E G Hope went on to edit various other annuals, like Horse and Pony Annual Illustrated and Horses and Ponies Pictorial, but no more Percy. Horses and Ponies Pictorial developed out of Horse and Pony Annual Illustrated. The first version of this I found was published in 1954, and it saw three publications, taking it up to 1956. The annual had a foreword by a famous equestrian (Dawn Palethorpe and Pat Smythe were two), a survey of the equestrian scene over the year just gone, and a large section of photographs - 80 pages’ worth in the 1956 edition. This annual was then incorporated into Horses and Ponies Pictorial. The format was not that much different from its predecessor; it kept the foreword, survey of equestrian sport and picture section, but added the equestrian Who’s Who. It stopped publication in 1960. Both of them needed fair dedication to get through: the surveys are unrelieved by illustration, and although interesting historically, aren’t a riveting read.

Once Pony Magazine Annual started in 1962, it hit a successful formula at once, sold out and then carried on an unbroken run of publication until 1983. The format was similar to Percy’s Pony Annual: a mix of stories, articles both serious and not, and, carrying on from its predecessors, photographs of equine events and personalities (though many fewer) and the Equestrian Who’s Who. There were also competitions: one stalwart was the Drawing and Painting Competition. There was one in Percy’s Pony Annual, in which readers could win a money prize. Competitions were reintroduced in 1963, though this was one based on skill: you had to chose the six most important maxims from a list of twelve on preparing, setting out and going out for a ride. Competitions like this continued until 1967, when the drawing competition was reintroduced. This was so popular it became a regular feature, appearing in every Annual up until the last I have seen, 1982.

The Annual was edited by Lieut-Col C E G Hope until his death in 1971. Michael Williams then took over the editorship of both magazine and annual. The first major change was the death knell given to the Equestrian Who’s Who. As a young reader, I was glad, as at the time I found this incredibly tedious, but it is gold dust to me now as a researcher, so it just goes to show one should keep an open mind! The removal of Who’s Who freed up at least 20 pages, and over Michael William’s time, more and more of these pages were given over to stories. From a maximum of three, some editions had as many as ten.

The stories were many and varied, but the most notable are the three Caroline Akrill short stories which feature the characters from her Showing series. They are all very well worth reading, and show Caroline was just as good at the short story format as she was at novels.

As far as I know, the Pony Magazine Annual stopped publication in 1983, but it has been resurrected this century, though I think can only be bought via Pony Magazine and not in shops.

Above - the precursors of Pony Magazine Annual
Below - Pony Annuals