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Ponies, ponies, ponies

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PAT SMYTHE
Series

Three Jays
Jacqueline Rides for a Fall
Three Jays Against the Clock
hree Jays On Holiday
Three Jays Go to Town
Three Jays Over the Border
Three Jays Go to Rome
Three Jays Lend a Hand

Peter and Carol
A Swiss Adventure
A Spanish Adventure
A Cotswold Adventure
Three Jays over the Border
Cassell, London, 1960, 180 pp, illus J E McConnell
Armada, pb, 1966 & 1968

The Three Jays are in Ireland, and Penny, who helped them out with the
Prince Philip Cup, has gone with them. Ballymulligan, where they are
staying, is very close to the border between Northern Ireland and Eire,
and this causes them many problems.  Then it seems as if Penny’s
problems will be solved when she falls for a horse, Lostboy, but
alas they are anything but.
Three Jays Go to Rome
Cassell, London, 1960, 160 pp, illus J E McConnell
Armada, pb, 1968

The Three Jays shock their schools by showing a sudden fascination with Rome. This, of
course has nothing to do with the fact that the Rome Olympics are soon to take place. Pat
and D’Arcy arrange for the three Jays to travel down through France to Rome. They
eventually make it, but then there are the Olympics to contend with.
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A Cotswold Adventure
Cassell, London, 151 pp, 1973
Dragon, pb, 1976

After Spain, the idea of a holiday at home seems rather dull, but then Carol and Peter are
invited to stay with Pat in the Cotswolds. A conceited German, Hans, is also staying
there. A famous archaeologist takes them on a dig with him, and they discover an
ancient sword, but soon find they are not the only ones excited by its discovery.
A Spanish Adventure
Cassell, London, 1971
Children’s Book Club, 1972
Dragon, pb, 1973

Peter and Carol Garrett have been invited to spend their Easter holidays
in Spain. They take part in Spanish life, and then Carol is signed up to
play the lead part in a film. It looks as if the film will be wrecked when
a gang steal their cash, but Peter has a plan.
A Swiss Adventure
Cassell, London, 143 pp, 1970
Dragon, pb, 1972

Peter and Carol Garrett have arrived in Switzerland for a holiday with Pat. They ride
their ponies on a long trek across Switzerland, and as they journey through the
mountains, happen across a gang of drug smugglers.
Three Jays Lend a Hand
Cassell, London, 1961, illus Keith Money
Armada, pb, 1967. 128 pp.

Jacky’s cousin D’Arcy has always hated horses, but to inherit from his uncle’s will, he has
to learn to ride, and get a horse up to Grade B standard within a year.  Nobody thinks it
can be done, particularly as the horse he chooses, Rocket, lives up to his name. It looks,
however, as if D’Arcy will win through, until he loses his nerve.

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PAT SMYTHE BIBLIOGRAPHY - NON FICTION
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Jump for Joy
Cassell, 1954

Pat Smythe’s Book of Horses
Cassell, 1955

One Jump Ahead
Cassell, 1956

Tosca and Lucia
Cassell, 1958

Horses and Places
Cassell, 1959

Florian’s Farmyard
Cassell, 1962

Jumping Round the World
Cassell, 1962

Flanagan My Friend
Cassell, 1963

Bred To Jump
Cassell, 1965

Show Jumping
Cassell, 1967

A Pony For Pleasure
Cassell 1969, illus Fiona Hughes

Pony Problems
Cassell 1971, illus Fiona Hughes

Leaping Life’s Fences
Sportsman’s Press, 1992
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Patricia Rosemary Smythe (1928-1996) succeeded in an equestrian world geared to men.  Equestrianism is perhaps unique in allowing women to compete on equal terms with men, but it was not always so and Pat Smythe (and Brigitte Schockaert of Belgium) were the first two women to ride in Olympic show jumping events at the 1956 Stockholm Olympics.  Pat won a bronze medal, and was one of Britain’s most successful show jumpers in the 1950s and 1960s, with horses like Tosca, Flanagan and Prince Hal.  

Writing helped Pat Smythe keep going. Riders then, in order to compete internationally, had to have amateur status, and could not earn their living directly through horses. She was a major equine celebrity, and capitalised on this with her books. Pat Smythe wrote two pony book series: the Three Jays and the Adventure series. The Three Jays series is one of the most visually attractive of pony book series. All the hardbacks have dustjackets by J E McConnell, and it’s these which seem to be remembered more fondly than the stories, despite the inaccuracy of the horses’ portrayal in the early dustjackets. J E McConnell did get better at drawing horses as the series progressed. The trio on Three Jays Against the Clock are dire, with spectacularly awkward heads, but three books later, the cover of Three Jays Over the Border is almost unrecognisable, with a well-drawn horse set against the backgrounds he did so well. J E McConnell was obviously a confident artist: Three Jays Go to Rome has no pony on the front at all - and I can’t, at the moment, think of another pony book where this is the case.

The Three Jays themselves were wildly contrasting characters: the spoilt Jacqueline, and down to earth brother and sister Jane and Jimmy. They are at boarding school, but stay with Pat during the holidays. The Three Jays uses the literary device of having a trio of fictional children in a story told by the author using herself and her own horses and stables as background. (This device was later used by Marion Coakes and Gillian Hirst in Sue-Elaine Draws a Horse). The parts of the books where Pat Smythe is writing about her own horses are the best in what is an uneven series: and she is a better writer than her children’s books would suggest. Her non-fiction books are remembered fondly: she writes vividly about her horses. The Three Jays and Adventure books were not amongst the most popular of pony books. Armada only printed the Three Jays series twice in paperback in the 1960s, but not in the 1970s, a decade which saw many reprints. Presumably once Pat had retired, readers no longer had that magic figure before them whose world they wanted to enter.

Pat Smythe married the Swiss Sam Koechlin and moved to Switzerland, returning to England when he died.  She died of heart disease at the age of 67.

Finding the books:  all titles are easy to find in hardback or paperback.

Sources and links
Pat Smythe - Leaping Life’s Fences
Susanna Forrest on Pat Smythe
Susanna Forrest’s If Wishes Were Horses has a chapter on Pat Smythe

Many thanks to Dawn Harrison for the postcards and plate of Pat Smythe which illustrate this section, and to Fiona Williams for the Gernat Armadas. Many thanks to Susan Bourgeau, Dawn Harrison, Sue Howes and Fiona Moate for supplying photographs.
BIBLIOGRAPHY - PONY BOOKS ONLY
Jacqueline Rides for a Fall
Cassell, London, 1957, illus J E McConnell, 179 pp.
Armada, pb, 1962
Armada, pb, 1968, cover Mary Gernat

Jimmy and Jane are staying with Pat at Miserden, and Jacqueline Field is coming
too. When she turns up, she is obviously spoiled, and antagonises Jimmy and
Jane immediately.  Eventually, she does learn she doesn’t know everything, and \
the three become friends.
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Pat Smythe on Mr Pollard
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Pat Smythe on Flanagan
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Anne Bullen portrait of Pat Smythe on Prince Hal
(above)
Pat Smythe on Scorchin
(centre)
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A commemorative plate
featuring Pat Smythe (left)
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Three Jays go go Town
Cassell, London, 1959, 181 pp, illus J E McConnell
Armada, pb, 1966 & 1968

The Three Jays have won their Zone Final for the Prince Philip Cup, and are now going to
be competing at the Horse of the Year Show at Harringay. Their schools, however, aren’t
that keen on them taking time off to practise, but they all manage to get to London.  All
looks good, until Jacky’s cousin D’Arcy takes Jimmy with him to test a new plane.
Three Jays on Holiday
Cassell, London, 1958, 182 pp, illus J E McConnell
Armada, pb, 1963, 158 pp.
Armada, pb, 1968? Cover Mary Gernat
The Three Jays are going to the South of France for a holiday.  They are
supposed to meet Jacky’s father there, who has offered to take them for a
cruise on his yacht. They don’t have any money to get there, so have
persuaded Jacky’s cousin, D’Arcy, to take them in his Bentley. Pat has
arranged to meet them in the Camargue, and they are allowed to take part in
a round up.
Three Jays Against the Clock
Cassell, London, 1958, illus J E McConnell, 181 pp.
A S Barnes; New York, 1958
Armada, pb, 1966, 158 pp.
Armada pb, 1967/8?, cover Mary Gernat

It is pouring with rain, and so the Three Jays can’t ride.  Having read
Tschiffely’s Ride and The Children of the New Forest, they are inspired with
an idea:  they will do a three day ride to the New Forest.  Pat is worried about
what they will get up to, particularly as she has entered them for their first
show jumping competition the weekend after they get back (not that she has
actually told them this....)
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