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The Discontented Pony

This pony story tells of a very discontented pony named Merrylegs. Even though having everything a little pony needs - a field to run about in, a kindly farmer owner and farmyard friends Daisy and Squeaker -Merrylegs still begins to feel discontented with his lot in life.

After hearing stories about his great-great-grandfather who had been a great race horse, Merrylegs begins to think that "he was much too well-born to work".

The story continues with a trip with the farmer to the market, where it was 'Fair Day'. Even though still feeling above his work, Merrylegs begins to enjoy the fair day, watching all the comings and goings, hearing the happy music playing and even a Punch and Judy show! It is at the fair day that the little pony finally realizes what it is that he should become in life. He notices a roundabout and to his great surprise, it is not chairs that the children are riding on - but horses - "What horses!". 'These were lordly creatures, with proud, flashing eyes, and wide nostrils. Their long manes and tails floated out behind them, their fore-feet pawed the air, and they had coats of scarlet, with here and there a touch of gold'.

On returning to the farm, Merrylegs shares his secret with his friends Daisy and Squeaker - who are horrified that their friend is going to run away to the fair and leave them behind! Later that same night, when everything on the farm was quiet, Merrylegs makes his escape 'through a gap in the hedge'. When he reached the market square, everything was very different to how he found it during the day - quiet and still, instead of busy and jostling. However, the horses that he 'admired so much' were still there and so he went upto each one and asked for some room to be made, so that he could join them. When he received no response, he patiently waited, wrongly assuming that they must be asleep!

Whilst waiting by 'what looked like a little painted house with wheels', he comes across some humans, who he excitedly thinks will make him into a scarlet horse and make room for him on the roundabout. How disappointed he is when he overhears them discussing that he would be of good use to 'pull a cart'. Unfortunately, Merrylegs cannot run away, as he has been tied to a wheel of the house. The frightened pony eventually falls asleep.

In his dreams, Merrylegs is the roundabout horse that he so dearly wants to be. 'His eyes flashed, and he was painted a beautiful scarlet'. Round and round he went, again and again, with a different child each time. Suddenly he begins to feel a little funny - and wishes that the ride would stop; and so it does when he wakes up!

Merrylegs now longs to be back on the farm and takes his chance when someone comes to untie him. Off he gallops, back to the farm and his friends Daisy and Squeaker. Having learnt his lesson, the discontented pony, is discontented no longer - but found that he 'quite enjoyed his work' after all.

'The Discontented Pony' was written by Noel Barr, with illustrations by P.B. Hickling and originally published in 1951 in the ladybird series 497: Animal Tales.

Contributed by Joanne Hill

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