Jo and Justine Furminger

Mother and daughter authors. Mother Jo was born in  Coventry in 1932. Another precocious writer who penned her first book when only 14, although it was not published. Later she went on to write the highly popular Blackbirds pony series,
light-hearted and easy-to-read adventures of a group of pony mad children of
various ages. As well as writing she has also worked as a teacher.

Apparently it was the book
A Pony For Jean by Joanna Cannan which inspired her love of ponies and riding. As a child she never had her own pony, but when her daughter Justine inherited her love of horses, the pair spent many happy hours together at gymkhanas and horse shows.

Justine was born in 1962, also in Coventry. As well as inheriting an interest in horses, Justine also shared her mother's penchant for writing. Most of her own books are aimed at quite young readers, although she wrote a short pony series for slightly older readers, which is quite similar to the Blackbirds books.

As far as I know the books below include all the pony stories written by the pair.

JO FURMINGER

Blackbirds series:
Series about Claire and her friends who form a club called the Blackbird Pony Group. Told in first person by various members of the group. A traditional series of stories which are easy to read and undemanding.

PONYMAD SERIES RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

1) A PONY AT BLACKBIRD COTTAGE
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1975)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Reprinted by Knight in paperback
EDTIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, paperback edition
SUMMARY: Once pony-mad, Claire goes off horses after an embarrassing fall. So when the family move to a new house where a pony is already installed, she is not best pleased. But the pony soon overcomes her resistance to the equine race and she finds herself one of the founding members of the Blackbirds pony club.
PONYMAD RATING: 4 HORSESHOES

2) BLACKBIRDS RIDE A MYSTERY TRAIL
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1976)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Reprinted by Knight in paperback
EDTIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, paperback edition
SUMMARY: Pony-mad but pony-less Philippa joins the Blackbirds in solving a mystery. Their fun is marred by the behaviour of the awful Coralie who seems to despise her lovely pony Tex.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

3) BLACKBIRDS PONY TREK
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1977)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Reprinted by Knight in  paperback
EDTIONS PICTURED: 1st edition, paperback edition
SUMMARY: After a poor performance at the local gymkhana the Blackbird members set out on a week's trek to an ancient site in order to salvage their wounded pride. But their reputation is restored in a quite unexpected way!
PONYMAD RATING: 2-3 HORSESHOES

4) BLACKBIRDS AND THE GIFT PONY
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1978)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Possibly reprinted in paperback by Knight
SUMMARY: When Sally has to stay with the dreadful Neill Crumb she is not best-pleased. But then she gets involved with the Blackbirds and a mysterious lady who gives her a pony. But is the gift pony really hers to keep?
PONYMAD RATING: 3-4 HORSESHOES

5) BLACKBIRDS OWN GYMKHANA
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1979)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
SUMMARY: The group decide to organise their own gymkhana. But their efforts seemed doom to failure through the interference of an unpleasant neighbour.
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

6) SADDLE UP BLACKBIRDS
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1980)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
SUMMARY: When one of the Blackbird's ponies is lamed by someone illicitly riding her, they set out to find the culprit. However when they do they find themselves caught up in a plan to buy a piece of land so that a riding school can be built for a local school. And someone is out to sabotage their plans!
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

7) BLACKBIRDS AT THE GALLOP
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1981)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Possibly reprinted in paperback by Knight
SUMMARY: When Joanna's horse injures one of the judges at a local show, the Blackbirds set off to the woman's stables to lend a hand. But this is only the start of a series of adventures and disasters which overtake them. Can Joanna save the day and redeem herself?
PONYMAD VIIEW: Possibly the weakest of the series.
PONYMAD RATING: 2 HORSESHOES

8) BLACKBIRDS AND THE MIDNIGHT HORSE
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1984)
ILLUSTRATED BY SUSAN HUNTER
Possibly reprinted in paperback by Knight
SUMMARY: Is the mysterious grey horse which appears at midnight really a ghost? Or is there another explanation? Susan determines to find out.

Collectors Info:
The first three books were reprinted in paperback by Knight; some of the others may have been but I have not been able to confirm this. The first three books in the series are quite easy to get hold of in the UK. Some of the later titles can be more elusive, with Blackbirds at the Gallop and Saddle Up Blackbirds being the hardest to find and usually the most expensive. All the books are quite hard to find outside of the UK.

NB. Many thanks to Hannah for series order and most of the pics.

JUSTINE FURMINGER

Bobbie series:

1) BOBBIE TAKES THE REINS
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1981)
ILLUSTRATED BY DOUGLAS PHILLIPS
SUMMARY: When her aunt Jane is taken into hospital Bobbie and friend Laura go to stay and help out at Jane's riding school. Things don't go well to say the least, with hopeless riders running amok, ponies getting loose into a furious farmer's field and a stables inspector turning up unexpectedly. Not to mention the little problem of a rival riding school which has opened nearby and is taking all their custom. Can the girls turn things around or will Aunt Jane's stables have to close?
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

2) BOBBIE'S SPONSERED RIDE
(HODDER & STOUGHTON 1982)
ILLUSTRATED BY DOUGLAS PHILLIPS
SUMMARY: Bobbie and her friends are organising a sponsored ride for charity. Unfortunately their unpleasant rival Ned decides to compete by organising a sponsored ride of his own - this one on bikes. With Ned and his friends sabotaging Bobbie's ride every step of the way, it seems the enterprise is doomed. But does crime really pay or will Ned get his come-uppance?
PONYMAD RATING: 3 HORSESHOES

Collectors info:
Not reprinted as far as I am aware and quite hard to get hold of nowadays, though usually not desperately expensive.