I thought horse stories had taught me all the ways you could end up with an equine - steal it, borrow it, capture it in the wild, unwrap it on Christmas morning or find it trotting serenely down the road looking lost and sad. But now, I discover a new way; get one as a real estate promotion back in the anything-goes 1950's! According to an article in the August 13, 1956 edition of Life magazine, entitled "A Galloping Popularity For The Pony," ponies were given away with houses in one Oklahoma suburb. Accompanying the photo below of the little girl riding hell-for-leather on a Shetland is the caption:
In her backyard in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Mary Good, 7, races her Shetland. Pony came free with house, one of 30 given away by builders with sale of $22,000 homes in development.
Also interesting is the information earlier in the article that Montgomery Ward listed ponies in its catalog. $179.95 cash for an untrained, purebred Shetland colt, or $18 down and 15 months to pay! Montgomery Ward apparently had two pages of animal listings, including ponies, dogs and donkeys for sale. The catalogs of Spiegel's and Sears Roebuck also sold donkeys and ponies in those wacky 1950s; Spiegel, at least, sold even more exotic creatures, like spider monkeys and zebras. Of course, in the wacky 1990s and beyond, you could/can buy puppies and horses and just about anything else online. The big difference these days is, you're burdened with the downer knowledge that most animals should not be bought online (with sources like Petfinder, websites of good breeders, etc., being the obvious exceptions) and that takes all the fun out of it.
August 13, 1956 issue of Life
Dollar Times - inflation calculator
Montgomery Ward on Wikipedia