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Glenda Spooner was born in Poona, India, in the middle of a riot, on August 5th, 1897. Her family moved to Scotland while she was still a child, and she started to ride and drive anything she could find, from a police horse to a pony out of a greengrocer’s cart. She met her husband, Captain Hugh 'Tony' Spooner at an International Air Race in Egypt, and after their marriage they spent time in Cairo where Glenda rode Arab racing ponies.
After her husband was killed in an air crash after only 10 months of marriage, she moved back to England and settled in Sussex, where she started a dealing business specialising in children’s ponies. Before settling to horses, she had a very varied career, including going on stage with the Graham Moffat Company after the First World War, working as an advertising representative to the Great Eight and as advertising manager and director of Popular Flying. During the war she moved to the New Forest, where she taught riding and ran a farm. By the time the war ended, she had built up the dealing business again, and had become a recognised authority on ponies. She was also successful on the racecourse, winning several races. Glenda Spooner started Ponies Of Britain in 1953 with Miss Gladys Yule (from which show she once banned Caroline Akrill), and was involved with the International League for the Protection of Horses and the Brooke Hospital for Animals in Cairo. She said, rather firmly I feel, that she had a 'great interest in animal welfare, but is not a crank.'
As far as her writing goes, she is best known for her showing books, which are very easy to find, unlike her fiction, which is generally very difficult indeed. The Silk Purse is available as a short story in Purnell’s Horse Lover’s Leisure Book, which is where I first came across it. I was utterly delighted when I realised there was a whole book. I love its depiction of showing (for which of course Glenda Spooner had all the material she could have asked for), particularly its depiction of the desperate showing mother and the reluctant daughter. The book does a rather surprising whoop off into fantasy land halfway through, but it’s none the worse for that. The Earth Sings features Arabians; The Perfect Pest is the aptly titled story of a child who, if she was mine, would have driven me to drink. Fortunately the Pest’s parents treat her with much more equanimity than I would have managed.
Finding the books
The non-fiction titles are very easy to find. Of her fiction, Royal Crusader appears fairly often, but isn’t that cheap. The other titles rarely appear, and can therefore be very expensive.
Dustjacket of Silk Purse
Pony Magazine Annual, Equestrian Who’s Who,1962-1972