Despite having no interest at all in ponies, I was very keen on the “Jinny” books in the mid-1980s; but I don’t remember ever coming across any of Patricia Leitch’s one-off books back then. This is quite a nice, gentle book, with a happy ending. A widow and her three teenage children face having to sell their Highland home – the sort of home you come across in Lorna Hill books, i.e. a big house with plenty of land attached – as their plan of letting out rooms to guests is not raising enough money to pay their bills, and the only son must of course go to university. The son then comes up with the idea of setting up a pony trekking business, the running of which falls mainly to Fiona, the elder daughter.
Fiona’s a very believable character – determined to keep their home from sale, but still getting thoroughly fed up with all the hard work and how annoying some of the guests are, and having a strop at her long-suffering admirer, Tom. There are various traumas with the guests, and then the ponies get out and run riot over land owned by their well-to-do neighbour, who consequently bans them from trekking across his land. It all turns out well when one of the trekkers accidentally uncovers the local sheep stealer as an ice cream van driver who is stuffing dead sheep in his freezer (as you do), and the neighbour is so grateful that he lets them use his land again.
It’s quite an entertaining book, and makes a change from the usual pony stories about gymkhanas or breaking difficult ponies or not being able to afford a pony. Finding a dead sheep in an ice cream van’s freezer is certainly an unusual storyline: I don’t think even Enid Blyton ever came up with that one! Generally a nice book, all in all.