When to buy first pony?

(12 Posts)
Gorran Wed 02-Apr-14 16:59:12

My daughter has been riding for nearly two years now, perhaps a bit longer. She is off lead rein, canters, starting small jumps and is a good little rider. She has an hour group lesson weekly, an hour private lesson once a month and does a pony day at the stables every school holiday. She will be 9 in June.

The time is now coming (I think) where the next step is for her to have her own pony, how do we know when to do this though? The riding stables where she rides also offers livery, we could do field or DIY/Part/Full - financially, we'd prefer DIY or field (same cost) and are aware that the field option dictates in part what kind of pony to look for.

Just looking for advice really. I used to ride but haven't for many years and we're all on board with this (my H is also very keen which I know is a bonus!) but also feel nervous, it's a big step.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Can she help out at the riding school on weekends? It's usually best to do that for a while before investing in a pony, at 9 she's still very young and essentially you will be responsible for the pony until she can care for it by herself.

I would also suggest that you do a horse management course as well, as you will need to know when to call the vet,etc etc rather than completely relying on the yard to guide you.

Is she part of pony club? Doing camp. Often getting up in the morning when it's cold and dark before the school run, and when it's too dark to ride after school, the pony will be fizzy & difficult to ride.

Personally I'd look for her to share a pony somewhere maybe 2-3 days a week until she's secondary school age & capable of getting herself to & from the stables on a bike etc. Riding school ponies are a completely different thing to owning - they usually do pretty much what they're told & are worked very hard, when you have your own then are much more difficult to ride.

Gorran Wed 02-Apr-14 18:01:51

Thanks for your reply. Sadly she's too young to help out at her riding school, they have to be twelve. I completely understand we would be responsible for the pony.

No, her riding school don't do PC, I could move her to a local stables that does (Mount Mascal if anyone knows it) but I personally don't like the feel of the place and the instructor she has where she rides now (North Cray) is nothing short of amazing. It is a shame re. PC as I think it'd be a great thing to do for her, but I'm very reluctant to change schools.

I'm looking for a loan/share but they're few and far between.

Sounds like you're almost stuck between a rock and a hard place, I agree a good riding school is worth it's weight in gold, keep at it with the looking for a share, they'll all be coming up soon now the weathers getting better and everyone has fat ponies that need working to keep the pounds at bay, pre loved (or at least round here) often offers lots of shares - is there a pony from the riding school she might be able to loan a few days a week, or take to pony club type activities? Or maybe her instructor might know of one?

If you did get your own, it might be worth looking at working livery at the riding school if you really trust them?

Gorran Wed 02-Apr-14 18:25:29

I really am, Chocolatecakeystuff! I don't want to rush in like a bull in a china shop and though a pony has been on the cards always, she knows we wouldn't be considering it until later this year.

I'm going to speak to her instructor at the weekend and ask him to keep an eye out for a share/loan for her. He's been tremendously helpful, she can continue in her group lessons on her own pony FOC, which I must admit is a huge bonus for keeping the pony stabled there. It's definitely worth speaking to him again.

Booboostoo Wed 02-Apr-14 18:46:30

It's good that you have experience of horses because realistically it is the parents that have to either do or oversee the majority of pony care. At 9 years old she can help a lot but you would need to keep an eye on things and possibly do most of the work in the winter when days are short and school takes up most of the time.

Asking your instructor for help is the best thing really. She knows your daughter and should be able to help assess the pony as suitable. Couldn't the RS part-loan her a pony? This would be ideal. It would be a gradual introduction to pony ownership and the pony would get ridden in the RS which always helps. Alternatively you could buy a pony and see if the RS would accept working livery - helps with the costs, plus has all the advantages above.

One of the huge advantages of the PC is that you meet other families who will sooner or later outgrown their ponies and be looking to sell or often loan. Good ponies will be sold/loaned out through word of mouth, which doesn't mean that you can't find a good one through private sales but it could be a lengthy and tricky process.

Gorran Wed 02-Apr-14 21:26:39

I hadn't thought of asking the riding school about loaning a pony, great idea booboostoo. Will definitely broach that with her instructor.

Floralnomad Fri 04-Apr-14 10:01:52

Do be careful if you loan from the riding school or go for a working livery option that you don't end up paying over the odds for a pony which your dd has limited access to and you have limited control about how you want to do things .Its not something that I would consider personally .

Booboostoo Fri 04-Apr-14 10:08:17

If you do go for a share from the RS or a private owner, or a loan or a working livery arrangement, you need a very detailed contract that outlines everyone's rights and responsibilities. The BHS have a good template you can use.

The main questions you have to ask are:
- how often do you get to ride the horse, how often will it be used by the RS/other person?
- what kinds of activities can each party do with the horse? E.g. on working livery you may want to limit the kinds of riders to ride your horse, or specify no jumping.
- who is responsible for paying insurance fees (liability and vets fees cover)?
- who decides when the pony needs the vet, physio, dentist, saddler, etc?
- who is responsible for what costs, e.g. vet, farrier, dentist, physio, rugs, saddle?
- what happens if the pony is out of work? Assume that any pony will have periods of not being able to be ridden, they are very sensitive animals! However, they still need care and attention even when ridden and are as costly as when you can enjoy riding them.
- conditions for either party terminating the arrangement.

You avoid all these potential complications by buying outright and doing whatever you want with your pony BUT you have a pony to look after and ride 24/7. There is a down side to either option.

Pixel Fri 04-Apr-14 20:15:48

Cor you lot can be a bunch of old miseries. How do you know the pony will be difficult to ride in the winter? For all we know the school might have an indoor school or acres of floodlit arenas, and since field livery is offered it doesn't sound as if winter turnout is a problem.

I think if the parents of a 9 year old are considering buying a pony they've already realised they will be the ones doing all the work. Tbh I'd rather see a child having a pony with full parental involvement and professional support (as described in this case), where the child learns to gradually take over responsibility for the care of it, than the scenario I've seen far too often, ie the teenager at a DIY yard left in sole charge of a pony and the parents never seen.

Do agree the horse management course is an excellent idea though, along with lots and lots of reading! Also getting advice from the instructor to find a nice safe first pony, bearing in mind what has already been said about owning being a very different experience to riding school.

JerseySpud Sun 06-Apr-14 12:21:59

I find this thread interesting as the mother of a 7 year old who has been riding about 2 months now.

I will be looking for a horse management course here in Jersey to do i think as im not a horsey background myself although im very lucky. The riding school DD1 is at are letting me groom the horses whilst she has her lessons to get pratise and experience whilst she learns as well. And i've started riding lessons myself.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 06-Apr-14 14:16:40

There is lots to think about when buying a pony, even though it's very exciting. Do bear in mind that a 9 year old who has ridden roughly once a week for 2 years on safe, riding school ponies is no way comparable in experience to a 9 year old who has ridden ponies a lot from an early age! She really is just a novice, so it's important that anything you buy her is safe, sane and easy to do.

At 9, some of the things I'd be thinking about would be-

-What will happen when she outgrows the pony? At 9, with a safe first pony type, this is very likely to happen, probably within the next 4-5 years max, so it is something you would have to plan for. There are lots of options available of course, but it is something worth thinking about, especially if you cannot afford to keep two ponies.

-What would you do if the pony became lame, injuried or otherwise unable to work for a long period? Could you also afford to pay for her to have lessons if this happened?

-What about things like going on holiday as a family? Who would look after the pony then? There are obviously lots of solutions to this problem, but it is something to think about.

-What happens if she loses interest?

Also, it is worth thinking about worst case scenarios. Even hardy native types are relatively expensive to keep, as well as the aditional costs of replacing tack and your daughter's equiptment as she grows. It would be good to think about what might happen if you/your husband ever lost your jobs or needed to move e.g. to be closer to family.

I'm not saying this to put you off getting a pony, but these are some of the things I would think about and possibly discuss with your daughter in an age appropriate way.

Also, as a small adult who sometimes schools children's ponies and tries them for people sometimes, these are a few things I would be looking to buy-

-For your daughter's first pony, you need something that has been there and done it all, with a child. A younger pony that is mainly ridden by adults or older teenagers would be an absolute no-no. I would want to see the pony ridden by a child at the viewing, although obviously a lot of ponies are sold because they are outgrown.

-Get your daughter to handle the the pony during viewings and do all the things she might like to do with the pony herself- e.g. grooming, tacking up, leading etc. Pony ownership will be no fun for your daughter if the pony is not easy for her to "do" on the ground.

-Also handle the pony yourself, ideally including bringing in and turning it out yourself (at 9, especially if the riding school ponies live in large herds, it may not be safe for your daughter to do this). Make sure you are 100% confident handling the pony, as it will be you who has to step in if things are going wrong.

-Think about how the pony is kept, and the environment you will be moving to. If it is kept in a very different way (e.g. by a family with a few ponies of their own in a quiet yard) then you may face problems moving it to a different environment.

-If you think the pony is at all unsafe or too much for her to handle DO NOT let your daughter ride it at a viewing.

-Get the pony vetted!

It may take a while to find the perfect pony, and do remember a lot of the best children's ponies are a) worth a lot of money and b) are often passed on by word of mouth. Don't be tempted to overhorse her in the hope that she will improve with the pony- this is much more likely to ruin her confidence.
Get as much advice from your instructor as you can! Are they willing to accompany you to viewings, or at least look at adverts and pictures from viewings with you?

I'm not saying any of this to put you off buying a pony, as I think this sort of set up can work very well, but you really need the right pony.

Sorry for the massive essay and good luck!

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