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October 10 , 2008

Little Australian Pony Girl


'The ponies on our farm all get new rugs and shoes long before the people get any new clothes!' so said eight year old Emily to her mother. She was quite right, of course.
Little Australian Pony Girl is the true story about an Australian childhood, where animals and hard work come first and people take second place.

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Emily is the third generation of a family whose lives have been bound up in animals, especially horses, in different parts of Australia. With one grandfather a professional horse breaker and race horse trainer, her father a professional jockey at sixteen years old and a mother whose teenage years were spent on horseback, it is not suprising that Emily can never recall a time when she could not ride.

This fascinating tale is told by young Emily and moves through the amazing range of happenings that make up both her life, and the life of her family. Horses and ponies may play the major role in Emily’s life but it is by no means a one sided childhood. Emily is a musical child who plays the flute, taking weekly lessons. Like her mother and grandmother, she sews, knits, and enjoys craft work.

Emily's young life touches on a wide range of people and places. We see her at home on the family farm, learning that animals mean hard work and always come before people; she takes us to the North Queensland property of Rocking Vee which is owned by her grandparents; we hear all about her first meeting with Dodo the donkey; she tells us how the wild brumby horses of North Queensland became part of her father's own childhood; we learn of the family involvement in Riding for the Disabled; we can see Emily's delight in a father who was once a professional jockey shining through two chapters; there is the pleasure of a newly born foal and the joys of training him for his first show; the list goes on and on and it is hard to believe how much has been packed into Emily's short life.

To many people, this is the sort of life that only happens in story books. I have lost count of the number of times people have approached me whilst I was holding a horse or pony and asked if their children could come closer: these children had never even seen a real live horse or pony.

From sheep to saddles; rodeos to racing; brumbies to bridles; ponies to places: this is an Australian childhood at its best. Unfortunately, the type of childhood portrayed in Little Australian Pony Girl, is becoming an increasing rarity in our rapidly changing country of today.

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