The Pony Movie Recipe

30e3435d-1e1c-4e83-837c-ea96cf447887Even though Miss Missy is nearly 15, she and I still enjoy our Mum and Daughter Movie Nights. Often we pick a theme, like movies based on books (we liked Stardust, National Velvet and The Princess Bride), robot movies (I, Robot was our favourite) or flicks starring Robin Williams (Jumanji is Miss Missy’s top pick; I like Mrs Doubtfire and Hook too).

Our favourite theme so far was our extended Pony Movie marathon, and we had plenty of options, sparked by my discovery of the Heroes and Heartthrobs Pony Club. While we gorged ourselves on equine adventures, we learned a couple of things.

First up, we learnt that Pony Movies are almost all made from the same basic recipe, which goes something like this:

Ingredients

  1. The Horse. It wouldn’t be a pony movie without a horse, of course.
  2. The Girl. Obviously the Girl loves horses. Sometimes she has never, ever ridden a horse, but she will instantly be a better rider than anyone else.
  3. The Father. The Father is generally either dead or the girl has never met him. Either way, he usually is (or was) a great rider. If there is no Father, there will be Horse-trainer-father-figure.
  4. The Tragic Accident (optional). Someone will often have had a terrible accident while riding. It could be the Father, the Trainer, or the Mother, and sometimes it’s fatal. This generally leads to the Girl being forbidden to ride. Or the brilliant Trainer refusing to train.
  5. The Villain. This is usually a rich neighbour, and possibly the neighbour’s bratty son. They will probably buy, steal, or have other treacherous dealings with the Horse. Or it could be a bratty girl who has been riding all her life and always wins every single competition.
  6. The Colic Episode (add for extra spice). Colic is a very common equine ailment in pony movies. Everything will be going along swimmingly, and then the Horse gets colic. Everyone will be in a complete and utter panic, the Horse will be on death’s door, but will be restored to full and perfect health after a night of being lead around the stable by the Girl. Or perhaps by some horse-whisperer who will have to be dragged from his bed in the middle of the night just so he can put a hand on the horse’s belly and magically cure the colic.
  7. The Competition. This could be show-jumping, rodeo, or a long distance race, or some such. Spoiler alert: the Girl will win. Even though she’s never ridden a horse before, remember?
  8. The Foreclosure (optional). The parents or step-parents of the Girl will be about to lose their house, farm, horse(s), or all of the above. Usually the villainous rich neighbour will offer to buy them out.

Method

Choose your optional ingredients and extra spices and mix all together. Bam! You’ve got a pony movie.

Young woman and horse
Pony movie ingredients 1 & 2: Girl and horse

Sometimes, the result will be a fun and exciting family movie. And other times…

Which leads us to the other thing we learnt: sometimes watching bad movies can be just as much fun as watching good movies! Miss Missy and I have just loved picking the plots to bits, spotting the stunt and pony doubles, laughing at bad riding and total lack of horse sense, and “predicting” the ending (will she win?? will the farm be saved??).

The  best Pony Movie Marathon moment was when we were watching Amazing Racer, and Miss Missy struggling to hold her derision in, snarkily told the TV to “pick a plot-line!” The makers of that movie clearly thought that more would be more, and threw everything in the mix: not only a dead father, but also a long-lost-thought-to-be-dead-but-not mother, and mean foster-parents (or were they an aunt and uncle, we started to lose track…). There was also a tragic accident (just for variety, it was the Girl who had the accident!), a near fatal equine illness… the list goes on! If you’re curious, you could watch this movie yourself, or you could read this deliciously snarky review.

Pony Movie Marathon Awards

Miss Missy and I couldn’t resist bestowing some Pony Movie Marathon Awards, and decided to award Amazing Racer our Best of the Worst Award.

Honourable Mention goes to: Virginia’s Run. Yes, this was your typical pony movie, but it stood out a little from the crowd. The first thing it’s got going for it is that it stars Gabriel Byrne as the father, and there are some genuinely funny moments. Yes, (spoiler alert)  Virginia wins the race, but we cheered when plucky Melissa come in last on her little pony, long after the crowds had gone home.

The Worst of the Worst: No question about it, this award goes to… A Pony Tale! This movie took “bad” to a whole new level. To be frank, I’m not even sure you could really call it a movie. It’s all of 88 minutes long, but I am not kidding when I say that half of that time is scenery shots that are completely unrelated to the plot, or even the location. There are also the random scenes of the Girl riding the Horse round in circles for no apparent reason. And let me also add that this is a movie about a talking horse, but they didn’t even bother to put peanut butter in his mouth, so the scenes where he talks are literally just shots of a motionless horse! We actually decided that watching this movie is a form of torture, and that the worst punishment I could possibly inflict would be making Miss Missy watch it again!

And finally The Best of the Best Award goes to: Horse Crazy. We loved this movie! It was wonderful to watch a pony movie that didn’t stick to the recipe! Not a girl but a boy, no tragic accident, or dead parent, and no miraculous riding ability to win the big competition. I don’t want to give the story away, so let me just say that there is a horse (of course) and a villain, three cheeky kids, a couple of gormless adults–and a whole lot of fun!

Any favourite horse flicks of  your own you’d like to suggest?

Zetland Arms hotel, Cashel Street, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Zetland Arms hotel, Cashel Street, Christchurch [1902]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0026.
Date: 1902

Another of the early wooden hotels in Christchurch which was originally an eating house, later a hotel. The licensee from 1898 was John Fox (1836-1907). This building was condemned by the Licensing Committee in 1902 and plans for a new hotel were approved in March 1902. See: Early Christchurch Hotels compiled by Jim Watson.

Source: Canterbury Times, 7 May 1902, p. 36.

Do you have any photographs of Canterbury hotels? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

A Fatigue Party On Duty, Addington Camp, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

A Fatigue Party On Duty, Addington Camp, Christchurch. 1900. File reference Photo collection 22, IMG02212.

These men are shown carrying out their duties at a camp in Addington where recruits were trained before leaving for the South African (Boer) War (1899-1902). They are riding on a wagon owned by J.M. Heywood & Co. who were general cartage contractors of Christchurch and Lyttelton.

Do you have any photographs of Canterbury’s involvement in the South African War? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Alice Grundy feeding Topsy the horse: Picturing Canterbury

Alice Grundy feeding Topsy the horse, 1920. Kete Christchurch. PH13-174. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. CC-BY-NA-SA-3.0 NZ.

Alice Grundy feeding Topsy the horse in the paddock next to 48 Milton Street.

Date: 1920.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Do you have any further information about this photo? If so, please share it with us by leaving a comment.

The Diamond Horse ~ A cool read for summer!

Cover of the Diamond HorseD’you know what arrived at the library the other day? Brand new copies of Stacy Gregg‘s twenty-first pony book, that’s what! If there’s a horse-mad tweenage kid in your life, guaranteed, this is the perfect summer read. It’s exciting, gripping, full of exotic animals and horses (of course) , and – according to Miss Missy – it’s Stacy Gregg’s best ever book. Miss Missy’s got to be one of Stacy’s biggest fans, so I reckon she knows what she’s talking about.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy of The Diamond Horse recently, and we both thoroughly enjoyed this story of two Russian girls linked across time by their love of horses and a mystical diamond necklace. Anna Orlov is the daughter of a Russian Count, but all the beautiful dresses, exotic pets, and royal banquets don’t make up for the fact that her father ignores and belittles her, and her brother bullies her relentlessly. Valentina is an orphan who rides a beautiful pink horse in a Russian Circus act, and dreams of a better life for herself and her beloved horse.

I loved the way Stacy mixed history and modern legend into this tale of two feisty girls who refused to let anyone crush their dreams. The story of Anna is inspired by the real Anna Orlov, whose father developed the Orlov Trotter horse breed, and was a courtier of Catherine the Great. The story of Valentina and her horse, Sasha, is inspired by the true story of Balagur, a modern day Orlov Trotter, who surprised the dressage world by winning competition after competition, all the way up to the Olympics. I also loved the descriptions of the snow-covered Russian landscape, which were so realistic I felt like I needed to wrap up in a blanket to keep warm.

Miss Missy said that she enjoyed learning about the origins of Orlov Trotters (of course, she knows the name of every breed of horse known to man, so the name Orlov rang a bell for her, while going completely over my head). She also enjoyed the family dynamics, which, she told me, is not the sort of thing Stacy Gregg usually writes about. I asked Miss Missy what one word she would use to describe this book; she said “Exquisite” and I can’t think of a better one!

The Diamond Horse
by Stacy Gregg
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780008124410

Cup and Show Day Reading : Give a Man a Horse by Dianne Haworth

Give a Man a Horse CoverHere’s a book to whet your appetite for Christchurch Cup and Show Week!

Give a Man a Horse is the biography of celebrated Cambridge Stud bloodstock breeder Sir Patrick Hogan, owner of the famous Sir Tristram.

This is an entertaining and often poignant tale of farming, family and horse breeding in early New Zealand. Author Dianne Haworth eloquently traces the roots of this famous New Zealander from the mists of seventeenth century Ireland to the modern world of horse racing.

Beginning with an Irish family myth of a rebel Hogan horseman, the book follows Patrick’s father Tom’s emigration to New Zealand in the early 1900s to his establishment of the family’s first Clydesdale breeding stock farm in the Waikato in the early 1930s.

His father’s canny anticipation in the 1950s of the end of working draft horses on farms changed the course of Patrick’s life. Sharing his father’s natural ability in spotting and presenting a good horse, Patrick learned first to show calves at Calf and Show day, then followed his father into breeding thoroughbred horses for the high paced racing world.

Sir Patrick’s is a story of calculated risks, exciting wins and impressive bloodlines. Close associates speak of him as someone who would always give a little guy a go, while never mincing words when it came to horse business. I’ve enjoyed reading this book, for its relaxed style and history of a fixture of New Zealand life. I even found myself reading the statistics!

Give a man a horse: The remarkable story of Sir Patrick Hogan
by Diane Haworth
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9781775540960

More reading:

Horses parading in the ring at Riccarton Racecourse [ca. 1960] Flickr CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0030
Horses parading in the ring at Riccarton Racecourse [ca. 1960] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0030

Photo Hunt October: Horse-drawn Bathing Huts at New Brighton

Bathing huts, horse drawn, New Brighton.
Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch PH13-090 CC-BY-NCSA NZ 3.0

There is no date on this photo, but the bathing huts might have been a good place to shelter from the easterly wind as well as preserving ones modesty.

There are currently small huts on display at New Brighton but they’re not for bathing purposes – Tiny Huts at New Brighton.

View other images of New Brighton Beach on Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Where have all the young men gone?

(Note to reader: This post starts with housework but is actually about kids’ DVDs.)

When it comes to housework, I tend to be a bit all or nothing. Weeks and weeks can go by, and I’ll just do the barest minimum, and then I go crazy-mad and clean just about everything in sight. Like, the other day, I walked into the bathroom just intending to give the vanity a quick wipe, and ended up not leaving till I had cleaned the ceiling, scrubbed the floor, and attacked just about everything else in between. And as if that wasn’t enough, I then walked into the living room, took one look at the couch, which looked frighteningly like this couch* —

crappy-couch-1
Image: ©2011-2015 Crappy Pictures LLC

— and realised I couldn’t live with it a single moment longer and cleaned that too.

It seems I’m a bit the same with blogging…no posts since before Christmas, then all of a sudden, three posts in (almost) as many weeks!

Anyhoo…this post isn’t actually about housework**, it’s about kids DVDs. See, I noticed something the other day while I was popping DVDs back on the shelf… a whole cohort of the TV heroes and heartthrobs of my youth have taken to making — (wait for it… )

— pony movies and shaggy dog tales. Ya huh.

horseRemember Luke Perry from Beverley Hills 90210? Well, he’s swapped dreamboat for dad in Black Beauty (a modern retelling of Anna Sewell’s classic story — though Miss Missy and I thought the stories don’t have that much in common apart from the title). I know he was a teen heartthrob and all, but really, Luke Perry makes a better dad anyway — remember Dylan’s prematurely receding hairline and wrinkled brow?  Luke Perry also stars in A Fine Step and K9 Adventures.

What about Kevin Sorbo from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, remember him? Who could forget those open shirts and woven leather pants? No more mythical Cretan Bulls for him — he’s now roping rodeo bulls in Rodeo Girl.

Apparently Kevin Sorbo actually auditioned for the role of Superman in Lois & Clark, but of course Dean Cain got that role — and now you can see him without a cape in Horse Camp and The Dog Who Saved Summer.

Does anyone remember Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons? My big sister had a bit of a crush on him, as I recall. No more spoiled rich kid for Ricky, now he’s playing the rugged cowboy father in Our Wild Hearts.

I was too young to actually watch Miami Vice, but nothing says ’80s TV quite like Don Johnson in a white suite, pastel t-shirt, and shades. Well, he’s dropped the white suit, but he’s still wearing shades in Moondance Alexander. Although it’s a pretty a typical girl-finds-horse-overcomes-odds story, Miss Missy and I did enjoy watching it.

Lastly, even though it’s not a pony story, I have to tell you about A Little Game, which stars Ralph Macchio, otherwise know as The Karate Kid (sorry folks, we don’t have the original at the library, we’ve only got the Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan version). There’s no “wax on, wax off” in this one, but it’s a similar tale of a young protégée and an older mentor, but instead of teaching karate, he’s teaching chess — and of course a few life lessons along the way.

So if the kids are getting bored over the holidays (especially if the rain keeps up!) why not give one of these movies a try? We’ve got plenty of new DVDs for kids, and they’re free to borrow!

*Minus the books propping up the corner. Of course I would never do that, what kind of librarian do you take me for? BTW, if you liked the Crappy Picture, you might enjoy Amber Dusick’s ebooks

**If you actually wanted a post on housework, I wrote one on clutter awhile back

See the film, then read the book

 "War Horse" book coverPrior to the quakes of recent months, my social life included an occasional visit to the cinema. With the demise of the Arts Centre cinema, which was my frequent haunt, and a reluctance to enter cinemas in shopping malls without sussing out where ALL the escape routes are (a particular behavioural trait which previously I had displayed only when flying …),  I found I was watching a good deal of films in DVD format at home. Nothing wrong with this except my perceived lack of  ‘a sense of occasion’ which cinema visits had previously inspired in me.

However, this all changed when the trailer for War Horse appeared on my small screen. Suddenly the TV and my lounge were too small for such an epic story… And what a story! Imagine  a combination of Gone with the wind for wonderful technicolour processes; a plethora of  Lassie films for pathos; and a similar storytelling format to  Black Beauty, whereby a succession of characters are introduced through the short snatches of time they spend with Joey, aka ‘War Horse’, in a truly unsettling period of history.

My background knowledge of the use of horses in war, and especially during the 1st World War, was admittedly sketchy, but for all the graphic and mental horrors of this period in history, I felt the film’s editing was first rate – the futility and carnage of battle was left to the viewer’s imagination (my runaway ‘fertile’ imagination notwithstanding). Now I am going to read the book. As a general rule of thumb books come first followed by film adaptations, but not this time…

Anyone else admit to being influenced by the film first before embarking on the novel?

If so, check out our listings of Books that have been made into films and television. (For those movies that are yet to be released try Read the book – then see the film.)