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It’s Been 20 Years, Fergus


Review by Nancy Brannon

It’s Been 20 Years, Fergus, and you’re still spooking at that thing? This new book by author and illustrator Jean Abernethy rings in the New Year with a look at Fergus the Horse “through the ages” and a recap of some delightful cartoons from 2015 – 2020.

Jean takes us through Fergus’ early years, for example, when he appeared in Monty Roberts’ Join-Up Journal to explain “adrenaline.” There’s a great drawing of Fergus leading with 11 of his friends pulling in tandem the sleigh for St. Nicholas. Fergus could fly! Don’t you know?

We see Fergus photo bombing, a recap of Fergus’ previous books, quotes of the day from Fergus calendars, and look at some of Fergus’ interesting friends and creatures in the pasture. In “What a Character,” we meet several of these characters, including a turtle, an armadillo, a rock, and some equine friends.

I love the various places and situations that Fergus “photo bombs!” In fact, we featured a Fergus photo bomb on the March 2017 cover of the Mid-South Horse Review.

The cover of “Part Two: The Comics” is an all-time favorite of mine: It’s a drawing of a Thelwell-like pony with the text: “I need a pony. It’s that simple.” I love the pony Grace and the tales of her shenanigans!

Browsing through a “sampler” of cartoons from 2015-2020, I guarantee you have not seen all of them and, even the ones you have seen, are well worth revisiting. Not only are they humorous, but they also inform us about equine thinking and behavior from Jean’s very insightful observations of real horses.

Like every good drug commercial, first we tell you all the good stuff about this book and the healing it can bring. So now, adhering to the principle of Full Disclosure, we bring you the Warning Label for this book: “Not to be taken seriously. Keep within the reach of children. Comics can all be read immediately at once, or taken a bit at a time. For committed equestrians, especially before lessons or clinics, take two or more comics lightly with a grain of salt. For equestrians under intense pressure, use these comics in lieu of an illegal substance or topical ointment. Ingredients: experience, silliness. Best used before you go to the barn. Keep at room temperature (for personal comfort while you read).” And, most importantly, “no animals were harmed in the creation of this book.” An additional warning to the reader: your side may start hurting after you overdose on laughter and fall out of your chair!

Fergus is not immune from the influence of world events, and he sometimes comes to comfort humans in times of trouble. In the last section, “The Human Condition,” Jean explains how she introduced the French-speaking horse Monique in 2015 following the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Monique asks Fergus, “Why do humans fight and kill each other? How can we comfort them?” Fergus answers, “Like we always have. Do your work generously. And when your people are sad, let them put their arms around your neck and their face into your mane. That helps them more than you might think.”

Jean writes: “Fergus, you’ve taught me that sometimes a touch of sentiment is as powerful as a good laugh. As we grapple with the human condition, you and your friends can remind us to give thanks to horses and all creatures who help us keep our balance.”

Did you know that the Mid-South Horse Review and one paper in Ontario, Canada have been the two exclusive outlets for the regular publication of Fergus comics? We are so honored and thrilled to be one of two exclusive publications for Fergus! Changes are coming in 2021, as Fergus is syndicated, but we hope to continue to provide you with a bit of Fergus humor and equine insight each month.

Every month since 2017, here at the Mid-South Horse Review we always look forward to Jean Abernethy’s email with the latest Fergus cartoon for the next issue. It never fails to bring a smile and a laugh throughout the office. We give thanks to Jean Abernethy for giving us equine insight and helping us keep our balance. We hope our readers marvel at Jean’s creativity every month with a new Fergus cartoon on page 4. We are always delighted – and grateful – to bring them to you.

If you haven’t read the book yet, we highly recommend it, as well as other the Fergus books. You won’t be disappointed. What is your favorite Fergus cartoon or character? My absolute favorite illustration in the book is on page 131, and it symbolizes the theme of this issue – finding refuge and comfort in our horses. After all – life is short; stop and smell the horses.

Keep up with Fergus in 2021 at, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, and, of course, in the Mid-South Horse Review.

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