Penelope and Kipper Still Riding!

Perhaps Thelwell cartoons were the inspiration for the Shetland Grand National!
Perhaps Thelwell cartoons were the inspiration for the Shetland Grand National!

When I was growing up, “Thelwell ponies” were part of the lexicon. Those fat, willful ponies with their determined young riders captured the imaginations of young and old equestrians.

Norman Thelwell (1923-2004) was a British illustrator who created the intrepid Penelope and her beloved pony Kipper. His first cartoon appeared in Punch in 1953 and while his cartoons addressed many areas of British country life, it was the Thelwell pony that hit a nerve on both sides of the pond.
Thelwell’s cartoons perfectly captured the relationship of girl and pony: adversarial on the small points yet full of love.

I hope that the current generation of young riders has the chance to appreciate the talent and humor of this amazing artist.

4 thoughts on “Penelope and Kipper Still Riding!

  1. Thanks for posting this! My family have always been Thelwell lovers, and we have all the books, some of them quite old.

    I am constantly teased becaue of my love for large, heavy horses. I am only 5′ tall, and there are times, when I really need to get a leg on, when I’m told I resemble Penelope. That’s NOT a compliment.

  2. I’ve read plenty of cartoons, but Thelwell remains unmatched in reducing me to giggles. The same giggles that I had when I saw these cartoons as a young boy in the local priest’s library decades ago. (I was alone and therefore didnt have to worry about anyone catching me giggling over a girl.)

    I didn’t know I could still giggle. I thought I’d long graduated to chuckling and guffawing.

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