Here’s another of the Thelwell Ponies – Norman Thelwell is one of my favorite artists, so I might emphasize his vintage art prints a bit more than others. The ponies and little girls are just so cute… and he captures quintessential elements of their interactions so well. Hard to resist.
The round-bodied short-legged pony coupled with strong personalities are a perfect combination. Thelwell excels at this blend, which is why his ponies (and their riders) are so popular. This print comes from the 1964 book “Riding Academy”. The text reads “If flies bother him in hot weather… tie a sprig of elder to his brow band…”
Unlike most of his humorous illustrations, this is very touching. You can see from the top image the poor little guy is miserable with swarms of flies around his face. In the second scene his rider is gently placing a ‘sprig of elder’ on his forehead. The pony’s head is bowed, eyes closed, and a look of relief on his face. That’s an impressive illustration, to capture all that.
Just for those of you who’ve never used the trick, there’s nothing magical about Elder. Any light leafy branch will do, as long as you can attach it to be higher than the head. When I was very young, my cousin Steve taught me how to carry a branch rested on my shoulder.
The flies (yellow flies in South Georgia) will buzz around the highest moving point, so they follow the branch-tops instead of me. Works the same for horses. And it’s truly a blessed relief.