Ride a Wild Pony

Ride a Wild Pony is a 1975 American-Australian family adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions, directed by Don Chaffey and based on the novel A Sporting Proposition by James Aldridge.[3][4]

Ride a Wild Pony
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDon Chaffey
Produced byJerome Courtland
Written byRosemary Anne Sisson
Based onA Sporting Proposition (novel)
by James Aldridge
StarringRobert Bettles
Eva Griffith
Michael Craig
Music byJohn Addison
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited byMike Campbell
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution (US)
British Empire Films (Australia)
Release date
December 25, 1975[1]
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
BudgetAU$1 million[2]


Set in a small Australian town during the interwar period, the film follows the battle between two children, Scott, a poor farm boy, and Josie, the handicapped daughter of a wealthy ranch owner, for ownership of a horse that both children love.[5] Scott requires a horse to ride seven miles to school today and his father buys an unbroken pony, which Scott names Taff. Josie yearns to ride again but, being afflicted with polio two years ago, must settle on the use of a cart and pony. Scott's pony disappears, while a pony is eventually selected for Josie from her father's herd. When Scott sees the horse, which Josie named Bo, performing in the pony and cart competition at the township fair, he recognizes it as his horse and attempts to take it away.[6] The ensuing quarrel affects both the children as well as dividing the town.[7] The children eventually become friends and, while the ownership issue is legally resolved, they agree on a way of sharing the pony between them.[5]



Although based on an Australian story, the film was originally intended to be rewritten to fit an American setting. However, the producer, Jerome Courtland, determined that an Australian background would not detract from the film's potential for success in the US. As a result, the film was not only set in Australia, but employed a largely Australian-based cast.[8]

Shooting began in October 1974 and mostly took place in the small town of Chiltern, Victoria.[9] There was also some filming in the small country town of Bingara, New South Wales, where some of the cast and crew, including John Meillon, stayed at the Imperial Hotel for around 3 months. [2] Several different Welsh mountain ponies were used in the film's production.[10]


The film opened on Christmas Day, 1975[1] at the Fine Arts theatre in Los Angeles and grossed $9,000 in its first week.[11]

In 1976, The New York Times criticized the film as a "fundamentally uneventful and somewhat padded story",[7] while in 1987 in a review for the film's video release it wrote that the film "was well acted, by adults, youngsters and pony...a film that children – and their parents – should certainly enjoy."[12] Also in 1976, The Blade wrote that the film "combines an intelligent script, a generally excellent cast, and good production values in a film with broad appeal."[5] The Daily Collegian also praised the film, saying that it contained "a refreshing amount of realism, and an emotional subtelty that is unusual for a Disney film."[13]

See also


  1. Ride a Wild Pony at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper, Australian Film 1900–1977: A Guide to Feature Film Production, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998, p 296
  3. "Ride a Wild Pony (1976)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  4. "Tale of a pony transforms a town". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. 5 February 1975. p. 10. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  5. Dresser, Norman (16 April 1976). "'Ride a Wild Pony' Is Appealing to All". Toldedo Blade. p. 16. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  6. Waxse, Bennett F. (April 21, 1976). "Justice Triumphs in 'Wild Pony'". The Milwaukee Journal. p. 72. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  7. "Screen: Newest Disney:'Ride a Wild Pony' at the Neighborhoods". The New York Times. July 17, 1976. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  8. "Insight with a boy and his pony". The Sydney Morning Herald. December 22, 1976. p. 16. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  9. Bone, Pamela (May 15, 1986). "Chiltern lives again – just for television". The Age. p. 37. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  10. Bennett, Colin (January 5, 1976). "No prizes if you can guess whodunnit". The Age. p. 2. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  11. "50 Top-Grossing Films". Variety. January 14, 1976. p. 9.
  12. Rothstein, Mervyn (April 12, 1987). "Home Video: Children – Ride a Wild Pony". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  13. Charles, Larry (April 30, 1976). "Kids' film won't bore older folks". The Daily Collegian. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
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