Monday, 27 June 2016

Pony trailers and horse boxes

Life was fairly simple at the beginning when in early 1958 you could have bought just two types of the Rice's Pony Trailer - cream with red mudguards or red with black.

They will also have had fixed wheels and a piece of wire acting as the drawbar. These early models were drawn by a green Land Rover #406 with a tan tin rear cover. (That was also the only #406 with a rear cover).

In December 1962 the #438 Land Rover with suspension appears and early Gift Sets had a dark green one with a cream plastic cover pulling red pony trailers. These were replaced by a fawn brown pair, the pony trailer having silver mudguards and a solid silver drawbar. The trailer still did not have suspension but the wheels were now free spinning.

A new Gift Set comes out in time for Christmas 1968, a mere ten years after (no, not the band, they didn't hit the charts until 1970). This is Gift Set 15, designated Corgi Pony Club and has a new trailer, now described as Rice's Beaufort Double Horse Box. It's a splendid affair with two ramps, each with cork matting and the wider trailer has a clever partition that can be moved to ensure just one horse exits or enters at each side. This version also gets suspension.

The horse box is #112 and becomes available to buy in its own box in early 1969. These all seem to have had the attractive cast, spoke-effect wheels familiar to collectors at that time. The early Land Rovers, however, still had the normal wheels. I don't know when they got the cast type but the normal wheel are not that easy to find now so I suspect they were not around for long. All the blue Land Rovers with normal or cast wheels had grey plastic tow bars.

I have not yet seen or heard of the trailer with normal wheels and suspect that it does not exist with them

What did surprise me, though, when looking around, was the use of the eight-spoke wheels on some of these trailers! These also differed in having a black coupling. I have only ever seen red couplings on the others. Again, I have no idea when these were introduced. It is, I suppose, even feasible that they preceded the spoke effect ones as these eight spoke wheels look the same as those used on the 1967 Maserati #156 and also its replacement #159 which was also issued at the same time as the trailer.

Then, sometime from 1970 onwards, I cannot be sure when, Corgi fit Whizzwheels to both the Land Rover and the horse box, each retaining its catalogue number. The horse box loses suspension and the base has been slightly adjusted to ensure the thin axles stay in place. These last versions of the set are not very popular but are also not very common and have started to command quite high prices. I say 'last' versions as I am assuming that those other eight spoke wheels did, indeed, precede Whizzwheels

Although it is not clear from this photo, the trailer remains the same shade of blue as before but the Land Rover now comes in a distinctly darker shade with Whizzwheels and has a black plastic tow hook.

The two brown horses in the illustration above are probably not correct. I am pretty sure from looking at catalogues that it will have been the black horse and smaller white pony that occupied the Pony Club trailers. The #102 trailers always had a brown horse with a blue blanket on its back.

The blue 'Pony Club' Land Rover with normal wheels. I wonder if I'll ever find a trailer to match?

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