New pony - can someone hold my hand please?(57 Posts)
New pony arrived yesterday. I know I'm expecting a lot after one day but he is sooooo grumpy :-( He won't let anyone go near him in the field - ears straight back, turns his back and trots off. Caught him with a bucket this morning and led him to the house for a groom - he was so strong on the leadrein I couldn't let my daughter lead him. He wasn't bad tied up and when being groomed he seemed to relax slightly. Took him back to his field, he was strong (I had to wrap the leadrein round his nose) but we did a couple of halts and waits and then walking off and he wasn't too bad. I don't like the idea of ignoring him in his field for a few days (as others have suggested) as I think he should start getting used to what we will do immediately - we have a pretty consistent routine.
I feel really sorry for dd2 because her old pony was so friendly in the field and easy to do. He was very nappy when ridden though and difficult in the school so I guess you can't have it all.
Just a bit worried that this pony might never settle and always be grumpy :-( and when do you think we should attempt riding him??
How was he when you went to view him? Was he grumpy then? A change of home is unsettling for a pony. If his behaviour is radically different from his old home chances are he is very unsettled.
I officially have the grumpiest horse on the planet. She has never changed in the 16 years I have had her.
Start as you mean to go on, don't wait for him to cheer up!
When we viewed him he wasnt that cheerful when we were grooming him etc but stood nicely and was very tolerant. Ridden he was much better, ears pricked forward and steady. We didnt see him turned out in the field.
Hes impossible to catch withiut a bucket - bucks and runs off :-(
I'm with ExitLeft try and lung him.... Is he in a field on his own this is a good idea, so he has to rely on you.
Good luck and they are all different and some do take time to settle in.
no he is in a field with our other pony - they are separated by electric fencing but can still see each other. I need to lunge him - bought a lunge line and whip but everyone tells me its really hard , I have never done it before
Well, look at it from his point of view. His life has altered totally. Uprooted from everything he knew and put somewhere totally new with new companions and people.
I'd be rather upset personally! He has to now re establish himself. Find his place in the herd, which includes you and DD get his bearings and start to feel safe. He doesn't know you. Why would be let a complete stranger catch him?
You need to give him time and understanding. He is an individual with feelings and worries and his own personality. Leave him for a few days. Let him establish his place in the field and get comfortable. Go in and speak to him, show him you won't hurt him. Then once he is happy with you, then catch him up and groom him and do stuff with him. He is obviously a sensitive soul. Be patient.
If when he has settled in he is still being a bit boulshy, or you cant catch him, try some join up. IMO it is a very bad idea to bring food into the equation. Also, while he is settling in, I personally wouldn't be feeding him anything other than grass/hay. Then, as you use him, see how he goes. There are far to many ponies out there accused of being nasty when they are just over fed. If you take things like over feeding and being unsettled and nervous out of the equation, you will have stripped him back to his basic personality and will know where to start.
I feed him (double handful of lo cal chaff and balancer) because I like to give a balancer and because I have to feed dd1s pony who is a very pernickety warmblood x, dont like to feed one and not the other. He was more friendly at feed time today and dd2 could actually pat him. He is clearly VERY food oriented! I think we might try dd1 riding him tomorrow, he might appreciate being ridden, he'll know where he is with that I expect.
Without sounding snotty have you really got two horses but have never lunge before ?
No issue with that I'm just really surprised by it
What type of pony is he ?
Just spend some time in his field without trying to do anything h with him - curiosity will get the ether of him
Don't make him coming to you reliant on food , it is so so hard to break this
Lots of groundwork, positive reinforcement and relaxed grooming. Can you get someone who knows what they are doing to lunge him ?
Tbh if you've never done it before I wouldn't risk causing a problem with a new horse
Well I've told you what I think. I wouldn't put a child on an unsettled pony myself... It's just adding to the things he has to think about and process! Let him chill and start interaction slowly. He is dealing with a major upheaval, and riding him means he has to deal with a new rider as well.
congrats on new pony.,,,, sorry its not the perfect changeover you maybe wanted
I agree with saggyoldclothcatpuss about the changeovers being rather stresssful for the pony just it would be like for us changing job or school. NO one would expect a human to settle into full work day one would they ?
I second also not putting anyone on an upset horse ..... to me a horse has to be "with you" on the ground first before doing ridden stuff... much safer imo.
I too would get interacting with im in the field first ..... I dotn always catch mine ...... well I never catch her in that she always comes to me. I might give her a treat for doing something simple like a back up, I might just giver her a little scratch . or I might just go sit in the field.
My daughters horse has a new loanee.. a young lad wh just spent the first few sessions going into the field and chatting to her, giving her cooches and leading her around the little field, feeding her and grooming her. NOw she knows he is her new "special person" she follows him around and will push my horse away from him lol.
Depends what you want as a priority from the pone really ......let him get settled and build the relationship or get riding. ?
Totally agree with Saggy and Such
I wouldn't ride until he is settled. But do spend time with him, grooming, walking, chatting etc.
There are different approaches to this but personally:
- I think it's ambitious to expect a child to be able to catch a pony from day 1. It is possible with some ponies, but with many others it is quite risky. It may turn out that your DD can never catch the pony but it may still be a perfectly good pony to ride - almost all ponies involve a compromise.
- I would try catching the pony more than once a day, sometimes letting him go immediately, sometimes bringing in to groom, sometmes bringing in to feed. Ideally you want to catch him without food, but reward him (with food if you want, but you can also use your voice or give a pat/scratch) consistently every time.
- personally I think that ponies need to work to help them settle but I would not put DD on him until you can assess him. Lunging is odeal but only if you know what you are doing. If you can get yourself a couple of lessons lunging an experienced horse (there is more to lunging than first appears!) and get someone who knows how to lunge to help you out with the new pony.
If he has a tendency to kick out make sure you wear a hat when handling him!
Korma - I am new to having a horse (i just share), and i have had lessons on how to lunge and can now do it on my own, I saw it as an essential skill.....but I would say at least 90% of the people on the yard I am at, would have no idea, so I am really not surprised.
Lunging is hard - so much harder than I thought it would be, but I would not do it without some guidence from someone who is experienced - esp with a new pony....do you know if it has been lunged before? Mine is a pro, so she made it really easy (but it was still hard)...but if you are both inexperienced, you could put the settling in back.
The horse I share knew me...she had been on the riding school and I had ridden her lots, but even with that, it took her about 4 weeks to realise I was a permanent fixture in her life.
I would be focusing on bonding on the ground, before hoping on her back, you after all want to set it up for success......
I find that really really surprising
Not passing judgment just genuinely surprised
Mind you I'm continually amazed at the amount of owners who don't understand basic nutrition and feeding
I just assume that lunging is a basic skill every equine enthusiast would possess
Kormachameleon It constantly suprises me how many people are willing to buy a pony for their children when they themselves have very little knowledge (This is not intended as a dig at the OP btw, just a general point). The problem is riding schools are "expensive" (They have to be to cover their costs) and some parents want to push their children faster or feel the ponies are holding their children back. Usually, I think this isn't true, and I also think it is better to work slowly with novices (especially children who can be quite unbalanced) than rush them and wreck their confidence. So, the parents aren't necessarily "equine enthusiasts" and don't realise that lunging, for example, is a useful skill to possess. Sorry for the derail!
@ OP: I would definately get someone to lunge and perhaps sit on the pony before your daughter as I get the feeling she is quite young? Could you pay an instructor to do this, or if not perhaps find a competant older teenager?
I think expecting the pony to settle perfectly on the first day is asking rather a lot. For a prey animal, being taken away from their herd and familiar territory is absolutely terrifying. Sadly, you cannot talk to him and explain to him that he should trust you, but hopefully he will settle given time. If he begins to settle in other ways, but is still strong leading, or hard to catch, then these issues can be dealt with.
For yours and your daughter's safety I would suggest initially wearing a hat and proper footwear to lead/catch/groom him just in case.
If he is always a bit of a "grumpy" person, though, you will have to consider if you are happy to live with this, especially if he is perfect in all other ways. How much do you know about his old home and how he was living there?
I think it would be worth getting someone who can help you along - instructor, experienced help, whatever.
i know Korma - and I know there is gossip amongst some at the yard - that I have riding lessons, and then lessons on how to lunge - but I see lunging as an essential skill. They can gossip all they like, I am having fun and learning at the same time. One of the reasons I wanted to learn to lunge was that we want to get DS a pony in the near future, but with his therapy (he has dyspraxia) and long school days (private) on school weeks I can see him only riding 3-4 times a week - I think dpony will need more than that most weeks - and if he only makes it 2-3 times and I can lunge it 2-3 times, then it is not stuck in a paddock getting bored, fat and naughty.
It amazes me how little some "experts" (self described) know....where as I feel I know nothing.
I am one of those parent who has bought a pony for their child when I know nothing at all about ponies...... I am trying very hard to put this right and relying heavily on my very experienced friends where our pony is kept to help me along the way, plus some very kind and knowledgeable people who have taken the trouble to post on here.
We have had our pony two weeks now. This difference this week to last is marked (I realise this now) and our pony is a chilled out individual by nature it would seem. Last week, he was quite nervous, unsettled, jumpy etc.
We basically left him alone to get to know his field friends intially, having first rearranged the existing ponies to make a 'best fit' for him in the field. Field politics settled after a few days. We just kept visiting him and being there, talking to him, giving him a few treats etc. For two or three days he didn't want to be caught (probably wondered who the hell we were!) but then just seemed to trust us more. DD took a treat up or some food etc intially but now just catches him without anything and he comes to her, sometimes she has a treat, others not.
We then just brushed him and gave him a small feed (not required but helped with bonding). Lots of talking to him etc. DD sat on him once or twice and tacked him up but didn't ride him. We don't feed him at all now.
We then let her go on a light hack with the ponies he felt safe with, just around the farm and back. Then a touch further. Then some easy jumps in the field etc. this Thursday, we took him to a riding centre for the full day and he was a star, DD loaded him, he travelled super, chilled with his friends, did exactly as she asked. PC rally Friday.
Today she took him on a very short solo hack (I was there with her but no other ponies). He stood in a sort of trance being brushed which made me laugh and hacked on his own no problem but we didn't take him off safe places.
I guess this is a bit long winded and I know nothing but, we just took it at his pace and didn't expect too much of him. As I say, this difference in a week is amazing, even though he was trying his hardest even to start with. I ams ure it will work out!
You sound like an excellent owner mrsvaughan
Lack of knowledge isn't a bad thing, thinking you know it all is very bad indeed.
And you find a lot of that in the horse world
needsastrongone I'm sorry if my post came across in a way that upset you. If you have experienced friends and are taking it slowly then that is all for the best. Obviously everyone has to start somewhere, and so long as you are happy to learn lots of new skills or pay someone to do the things you can't then I am sure everything will be ok.
I think if you are going to keep a horse (or any animal), you have to understand how and why their behaviour is so different to ours. We are fundamentally a predatory species, not a prey one, so we don't think in the same way as a horse might and we are definately not a flight animal. I think OP's pony is not a "bad" person, just worried by the changes in his environment, at least to an extent.
You sound lovely MrsV.
No it's me being too defensive sorry about that
I so want to get it right, he's so lovely and gentle but seems to have loads about him at the same time too if that's possible. Am learning as fast as I can and trying to be down there as much as possible but it does seem overwhelming at times.
Learnt all about eggbutt snaffle bits today with rubber covers as he has such a soft mouth we need one. I never new that such a plethora of bits could exist.
Don't get me started on bridles and reins and numnahs and feed and fly spray, hoof care, girths, aaaarrgggh!
Knew not new, iPhone corrections lol
Thanks all - just come back to this and I'm afraid I unwittingly ignored all your advice and all three of my daughters rode him today! He was as good as gold and loved it - seemed very happy to be working to be honest. He's also so much friendlier.
No I habe never lunged as I tend to ride the ponies we've owned - prefer hacking to lunging but new pony is too small for me!
Erm...no I've not lunged for about 30 years but owned ponies for 20 (with gaps!) . Sorry if I came across as someone who didnt know very much - I think you carry on learning with ponies and every pony is different with its own challenges - with all my experience I had never seen such an unsettled pony. However he was a gazillion times better today so everything is positive.
Glad to hear that things have settled a bit.
Try to give him some leeway as he settles in. Sounds to me like he's a bit anxious about the new setting. Nothing that a bit of extra love and treats won't fix.
I'd bet my bottom dollar that some extra attention/grooming and he'll be following you around like a faithful old dog.
Korma - I'm not sure why you are so surprised re the lungeing. I have ridden since I was 4, done Pony Club stuff, hunted, fun rides etc and owned my own 2 for over 10 years now. When I first got my horse I had never lunged - in the environment I learned in it wasn't something that was done, perhaps that was very old fashioned, but lunging and arenas etc just didn't come our way - I'm not sure why but it just didn't. That didn't make me a novice owner, and I do lunge regularly now (and actually it isn't that difficult, common sense and patience are all that's required, plus an extra pair of hands at the beginning.....)
The problem now is that there are so many gadgets/feeds/extras available that the choice to a new owner is bewildering, and although advice is nearly always hugely helpful, sometimes there is just too much and it is hard to know what the "right" thing to do is.
I am currently helping a new owner, and every time I show her something I always preface it with "this is how I do it and it works for me, but it may need adapting for your horse..."
More often than not as both umbrunion and needastroneone have discovered it is patience and calmness that wins the day...
Did a quick vox pop about lunging with the four other mums at PC on Sunday. Only one ever lunged. One got the groom to do it! and the other two never had. All very nice well looked after ponies. So I don't think its that unusual.
Glad it's all going well!
Riding is always preferable to lunging imo, but lunging can come in handy when you don't have much time, with a youngster, with a fresh horse, a pony that's too small to be ridden by an adult, etc.
As for it being easy, I thought I knew what I was doing with lunging...until someone taught me! It's a surprisingly skilled job and you can get a lot more in terms of engagement, control of the shoulders, collection, transition work and lateral work if someone gives you some tips.
Glad it is all working out.
Start as you mean to go on is motto.
I'm surprised because in over 25 years of having horses I don't think I've ever met an owner who couldn't lunge
Not saying it's right or wrong, just that I thought it was a basic skill
Just add, my pony is amazing in all aspects of life. Apart from the fact you can't catch her without feed and you can not clip her without sedation. She's also no madly keen on hugs and kisses!! But she's wonderful, gives you her all!
Id rather someone admit they cant lunge and have lessons than assume its easy and have a go.
Any muppet can chase a horse around with a whip. Not many I have seen can do it correctly. Not many can even put the right gear on in the right place lol. And done wrong it can be dangerous to horse and handler.
Glad to hear he seems to be settling in ok. Work on your realtionship on the ground and the rest will come.
He's so grumpy on the ground but it does seem worse when food is involved. At feedtime he puts his ears back and swishes his tail which frightens dd. We need to ride him more as he is much better then -at this rate dd is going to end up being scared of him which isnt going to be good. I feel cross that the people we biught him from didnt mention how grumpy he was with food. He's really strong on the ground too -cant imagine dd ever being able to lead him so what will happen at pony camp? :-( really worried we've got the wrong pony for us.
He might only be grumpy with food because he is feeling insecure. Make sure he always gets to eat in peace and hopefully he will realise he doesn't have to 'protect' his food. Dpony was terribly grumpy about food when we first got him and we found out that a previous owner had just put his bucket under the fence and expected him to eat whilst defending himself from the other horses. Now he knows he will always get to finish his food he is very relaxed.
You could try some kind of control halter if he is really strong with your dd. I've got the Monty Roberts one for dhorse as he can be a bit of a thug and it's made a big difference.
Don't be downhearted yet, these are common teething troubles. Even though we've had quite a few horses we've still had the odd 'what have I done buying this' moment with each of them. It soon wears off .
Thank you Pixel that it just what I needed to hear. Dh has just pointed out that we've only had him a week and I don't trust him and he doesn't trust me. I'll try and relax a bit. He was a very good boy indeed on the hack on Sunday and that's what I need to focus on. Dh has also just reminded me that when we got dd1s first pony he was moody and tried to bite her - we had him for 2 years and I had completely forgotten about that as he ended up being so chilled.
Just give him time. And space. Its so tempting with a new pony (especially when children are involved) for them to want to spend as much time as possible with them. Grooming and cuddling and pampering. If hes unsure of himself and you and his new envioroment it could just be a bit overwhelming for him!
He may not be as 'smiley' as your other pony, but ponies like people all differ. We have a cobmare who pulls the most amazing,alarming faces at you but is as soft as a brush, just tells you constantly what she thinks of things via her facial expressions.
With regards to food, leave him to eat in peace for now. My A gelding is a bit of a 'foody'. Fine with us doing rugs up etc round him but if one of the chickens or another pony goes too near they are liable to loose parts of their body lol.
Try and focus on the ridden side of him for now and the rest will fall into place over time. He may never be a 'people pony' on the ground but as long as he is trustworthy and dependable when ridden, and you can do what you need to do on the ground with him I'd be happy with that personally. And if he is strong to bring in for now could you slip his bridle over his headcollar just until you get more confident with him?
Does he get fed the minute he gets to the yard when you lead him in? I do a bit of schooling when not having babies and some of the ones I have had in expected food as soon as they got to the yard and would drag me in to get it. However none of mine ever have food waiting for them when they get in so they don't bother. I also never ever feed by hand, everything comes out a bucket.
I have one mare who is food obsessed, she arrived as a skinny 4 yo from an over crowed field so had got used to fighting for and guarding her food. We just have to accept that she will do a lot of pawing, stamping, head shaking when her bucket appears but we just ignore it as long as she steps back and waits for me to put her bucket in to her. She gets more difficult to handle if she isn't handle regularly and isn't the most trusting of people.
A lot of groundwork and teaching him to be respectful of your space might help with your boy.
IMO if you feel you have the wrong pony you probably have got the wrong one. If you intend to keep trying with him, you've had good advice here. Follow it. Give him time and space.
Thanks all. He is now absolutely refusing to be caught! I'll leave him be for a few days then think again. Maybe just take some treats up although I did that today and fed him from my hand and he nipped me (really by mistake I could tell) but I yelped and he scarpered! Poor thing we really aren't getting off to a good start. Yesterday I patted him over the electric fence, not realising it was still on and and gave us both an electric shock. No wonder he doesn't want to come near me, poor thing.
To be honest I think you are overthinking it. Almost every horse will have little niggles. If I think back to mine almost all of them have gone through a period where they may have been difficult to catch or lively to turn out, or something similar that needed to be worked through.
If you are going to use food as a reward you need to train him the same way you would a dog or any other animal. Teach him a 'leave it' command before you do anything else with food with him.
Forget about the yelping and the electric fence, just go up to him confidently, get him in and get him doing some work. He needs to be kept busy, both mentally and physically, otherwise he will muck about more.
He's loads better. I feel a bit embarrassed reading over my old posts. I think I am neurotic
He isn't even strong to lead now unless he's making a swipe at the cow parsley on the way. I feel totally happy to leave the girls fussing over him when he's tied up. He even let me pull his mane.
He still doesn't particularly like being caught but I am leaving a headcollar on him for now. With a bucket and a firm hand he's fine.
He's put weight on (according to weightape) in a week though and I can see I am really going to have to keep an eye on it. He's on a small section of the paddock (about 1/4 of an acre if that) and he's grazed it very short. I give him a handful of hi fi lite and the recommended amount of top spec lite balancer. Neighbour who rides saw him in the paddock and said I should give him hay. Not sure that he needs it seeing as he has put on weight (he's definitely not doing as much work as he was but hopefully that will change in the next couple of weeks).
Glad he has settled down.
Great news, glad it's all working out!
Make sure the headcollar is field safe, otherwise he could have a nasty accident.
With the grass coming through I would be tempted to cut out all his hard feed. Mine manage to compete off grass with no hard feed so they don't all need hard feed. If he is putting on weight you need to stay on top of this now.
If he is gaining weight, he needs more exercise and less food. FGS don't feed him more! Cut out the feed. Even if the grass is very short, every morning there will be an entire crop of teeny green shoots, which have just popped up and are full of nutrients.It is short because he is eating the lot, every day.
Look for a field safe headcollar. They break in emergencies and are much safer.
The vet recommended I give him balancer - its top spec lite with a handful of lite chaff so I can't believe it is going to be that bad. Apparently he had 2 full scoops of Mollichaff plus pony nuts and hay in last home, plus out in the day.
I agree hay will be too much for him.
He's being ridden about 3 x a week at the moment. Wonder if I could ride him...I'm 5 8 though and a good 10 stone 10 and he's only 13.1..
Why did the vet recommend the balancer?
There is absolutely no reason you couldn't ride him. He will be fine!
Caveat. I am not horsey and this is dd's first pony.
We have a 13 hand welsh cross. He has a very slight build. He's not fed at all at the moment and hasn't been for a month, doesn't seem bothered about the hay left in the feeder. When fed, he gets one scoop of hi fi original, nothing else.
I admit that he's very lean but fit iyswim?
Not that I know anything but seems a lot of feed and wondered if required now the grass is through?
Happy to be corrected!
Ps. Gets ridden about 5 times a week, including PC stuff, training and rallies and comps.
Needastongone - how long is he getting turned out for and what is your grass like? I'd suggest that he's working pretty hard - especially if 5 times a week - and we'd probably give ours a scoop of something like Calm and Condition mixed with some chaff just to keep his weight on and give him some oomph (presume he is jumping etc.)
Our shetland has hay all summer. She is in a bare paddock during the day (with coarse hay) and if she is full of hay then she eats less grass when she goes back on the field at night, therefore less sugar!
Perhaps this is what your neighbour meant? Hay instead of grass rather than as well as, hay being the less fattening option when the grass is in full growth as ours is now.
needastrongone - mine gets literally a handful of lite chaff and half a cup of lite balancer. Calorie wise its nothing! A scoop of original chaff would be more calories.
Mine needs more exercise. He's a greedy boy and loves to picnic on the cow parsley on the way out of the field, but he doesn't put his head down in grassy fields which I love him for :-)
I don't mind feeding him the balancer. We've only had him a week or so so it is hard to gauge what kind of doer he is. Our old NF had literally nothing except grass and always looked amazing, but that is what his old owner did. This pony has been stuffed with treats (they gave us 10 x packets of polos to take with us ) and fed lots of mollichaff which I think is sugary rubbish personally, plus lots of other bits and pieces. He was stabled at night.
He has to live out 24/7 with us and I like simple feeding systems. Half a cup of balancer and a handful of hi fi lite is probably much less than he's used to.
yes I'd feed more than that needastrongone, for energy more than anything although fitness helps. In the summer I plan to add some nuts to his feed if he needs it as he will be ridden 5 or 6 days per week plus camp. Keeping a beady eye on that weightape though!
He's has actually filled out since we have had him (about a month now), he's out all the time and just on the grass in the field. Grass I guess would be in full growth but looks sparse to me, the untrained eye
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