1st pony for daughter(18 Posts)
we are looking at getting our 10 year old her 1st pony, just wanted some advise on what to look for. She walks, trots and canters off lead rein and has done for quite a while, in fact the faster the pony the better!!! she has just started show jumping and loves it. So do I go for a leadrein/1st ridden or something with a bit more go in it?
I'd say go for something safe. It's very different having your own pony even if you are used to bombing around on riding school ponies. I assume your dd is going to want to hack out and that's where things can come as a bit of a shock. It's one thing going out on a bombproof RS pony and being able to keep up with everyone else when they canter but coping with a lively pony on your own is totally different. Does your dd have the experience to cope if the pony decides to be nappy, or gets frightened and puts in a buck? If she does then fine, go for something faster but if not be aware that small problems can quickly escalate. Ponies learn bad habits very quickly and you don't want to put your dd off.
Good luck with pony hunting.
What we learned when we got our own pony:
The fun/crap stuff ratio:
Using riding school ponies, more fun than crap! Ponies are drilled to know their jobs, have been well exercised, aren't used if having an off day. If you and the pony don't get on, you just switch to another. You ride in a controlled safe environment, with menages, and nice safe hacks, with an instructor always on hand.
Having your own, waay more crap than fun! Ponies are only used by you, and only get the exercise you give them. They can easily fall into bad habits. Any problems will be encountered every time you ride, until you work out what it is you are doing wrong. There's no alternative if you don't get on! (and there will be problems, because your pony will soon learn where your weak spots are, and play on them! ) you may not have those nice safe facilities available. And there won't always be that handy instructor available.
Don't get me wrong, having your own pony is brilliant, (we now have four and a foal!) but I'd definitely go with a safe pony to start with. I'd suggest finding one on loan, then if DD really finds she does want something whizzier, she can upgrade a lot easier. Don't forget, she is only 10. If you over horse her, you could ruin her confidence.
My DD started at four on one of our friends many wierd/wonky/dysfunctional ponies, and has spent years slogging away on ponies that weren't ideal
but were free. It's taken her 8 years to finally Work her way through them to a pony who suits her age and ability, and get her confidence to full capacity. And that's with a friend who is an instructor to help. If she had been to a riding school, she'd have got there years ago!
Definitely agree with Pixel about safety, and also agree totally about the difference between riding school ponies and your own. It's also much easier to speed up a pony, by getting it fit, feed etc than it is to slow down something that's a bit feisty. Also, don't be tempted to get something a bit big for her to grow into, in the hope it will last her longer as it's very easy to over-horse a child and knock their confidence. I'd go for a pony with a few year on the clock, definitely over 10. GD got her first pony just before she was 10, and he's been fantastic for her. He's a sensible Pony Club veteran, found on their website, and I'd definitely go down that road again if we were looking for what you need.
You need a list of what's essential (kind temperament, nice manners on the ground, well schooled, good brakes etc) and what level of ability the pony needs to have (scope of jump, agility etc), then work out what you would compromise on.
Do you have a good relationship with your instructor? Their help could be invaluable.
Would second Older's advice, from experience I'd say getting a first pony that they can outgrow in terms of ability as well as size within a couple of years is the best thing. For various reasons we didn't do this and although 8 months down the line things are starting to come right and DD and dpony have the most amazing bond..it's been emotional (and expensive!). If I'm honest I also feel slightly sad for DD as she has worked so hard and the rewards aren't obvious to the outside observer. She has had to watch school friends who can't ride very well (I've seen them!)come in with armfuls of rosettes from the 1 foot jumping, having had a lovely time and she's thrilled that dpony is starting to get inside bend. Quite tough at 9/10 years old.
Perhaps you could join the local pony club - lots of good ponies are sold word of mouth and never advertised. Also, if your DD can bear to wait until the autumn, I think there will be loads of ponies on the market or up for loan when people realised how expensive hay/bedding/feed has become.
Callisto is right that the autumn is the best time to be looking, there's tons more on the market, especially Pony Club paragons who've been kept on for camp/holidays prior to buying next size up for next year.
marialuisa, but your 'journey' will mean that dd will be a lovely accomplished and technical rider, when all the rosette winners are still wondering what inside bend means!
Hopefully Older! Actually they did really well at our riding club show yesterday so she's on top of the world at the moment (stealth boast) and got their first red so hopefully a long summer of riding will get them both set up. The very nice judge said DD and dpony were lovely to watch!
I would be wary of going for a lead rein pony if your daughter is already or soon will be off the lead rein. I have known several little
buggers ponies in my time that are absolute angels on the lead rein but terrors off it!
Who will your daughter be having lessons from once she has her own pony? The instructors at the riding school will have a good idea of her capabilities and what sort of pony would suit her. The best advice I can give you is to ask the instructor to help you find a pony.
Agree-LR ponies can be monsters off. Also, unless you are wanting to show seriously I'd be wary of buying a first ridden, IME it describes size and pace more than suitability for a novice rider. Nursery stakes/Golden Bears ponies can be pretty whizzy and a handful too.
We are in the throes of the same thing and have had loads of invaluable advice on here.I echo what everyone has said about safety-it is a completely different kettle of fish riding your own pony rather that a riding school pony.My very confident 7 year old,who happily jumped and cantered with ease-the faster the better- was reduced to a bag of nerves by a too sharp first ridden pony we had on trial.We are now in the process of buying a 20 year old pony club veteran who has been a confidence giver to 2 families that we know of.She isn't cute or flashy to look at,but they have ridden her on the road and she was solid as a rock,exactly what we were looking for.Dd1 then trotted around a field and jumped a course of jumps on her,with the biggest grin on her face.
I was chatting to the dds riding instructor at a show yesterday and she said that old ponies,especially pc ponies are the best bet,she reckons if it has got to 15+ without being sent to the sausage factory,it must have been doing something right over the years.
We looked for months and found nothing,but since finding our old girl,have been offered 4 ponies in one week.Some sounded wonderful,but I'm realistic about the dds capabilities now,and would rather take a step backwards than overhorse them.
Whereabouts are you? I'm in the East Midlands and may know of a mare for loan if you are interested?
We're in Leeds and it will probably be next year when we start looking but just wanted to know what everybody thought. Thanks x
Agree with everyone who said solid and safe best!
My DD had ridden since she was 4 through a riding school, but when she got her own pony at 7 it was massively different. She's now 8 1/2. George the pony was a Godsend through and through. He had been through Pony Club three times already and is perfect for a first pony. She won't grow out of him in terms of her own ability for at least another year - possibly 18 months - and she is jumping and cantering so well on him right now.
My toddler walked under his legs several times on the yard, and he didn't bat on eyelid. And when DD was almost falling off him after a jump the other week, he even tried to correct it so she'd stay on. He's a star!! But yet he'll canter and jump and hunt.
He's now 19, and has never been advertised, just sold through connections. I paid a premium for him, and it's worth every penny as he's the best behaved pony at pony club and the local shows.
A good steady first pony for home is absolutely not the same as a dozy plodder at a riding school, so I wouldn't worry your daughter will be too good for a trusted first pony.
It sounds as if your daughter could (potentially) handle something a little more challenging than 1st ridden (she's a bit old for it, and sounds confident). But, if you don't mind me saying so, I think it does sound like you need to keep in close contact with someone with good skills to amike sure things progress properly.
I think it's been said many times already, but please, please be careful about 'the faster the better' type approach.
I used to know a kid who was bought pony after pony because the family took this attitude. All the ponies were, of course, lovely - and fairly well schooled at first, and they had lots of fun, for a bit... but because the kid loved 'bombing around' on them, and this went unchecked, they weren't properly controlled, schooling and manners not maintained, and they effectively undid all the previous owners' good work. The family ended up selling each one, then getting another for exactly the same thing to happen again.... A real shame to see it happen (and not great for the family, as they were selling on ponies with much reduced skills...)
I will be asking DD's riding instructors advice when we decide to buy. She has had lessons for 4 years and is learning to jump at the moment. She rides all sorts of ponies but prefers the faster ones, ie not the ploddy kick along types, but she rides all sorts. She wants to get into showjumping and pony club and of course will be continuing with her lessons. I have had a look at some adverts for ponies and realised you have to be aware of how some adverts are worded. Especially if we are travelling a distance to see the pony, we wouldn't want to arrive to see something totally unsuitable. She is a confident rider but for her first pony we will get her a sensible sort but not a complete plod as she has progressed past that. We will be keeping the pony on full livery at a riding school so lots of people to seek advice from (although not at her current riding stables) We have a friend there whose dd got a pony 2 years ago and she says they have been brill! Could somebody give me a definition of 'Novice rider' Does it mean complete beginner or someone who is at a particular level? Thanks
It's a good idea to have a list of questions when you ring as you don't want to forget anything, and you'll rule out unsuitable ones more easily. There's no standard definition of things like 'novice rider', ask the advertiser what they mean by 'not suitable for novice', It can mean that the pony's very forward going but well behaved, could mean it's a bit spooky out alone, or could mean a total lunatic!
Do bear in mind though that privately owned ponies are rarely total plods like some riding school ponies (unless they're very old). Riding school ponies know that they've got a day's work to do, so ration their energy. They also get a bit cheesed off and bored sometimes, wheras your pony will be in light work, even if ridden 6 days a week so won't need to conserve its energy.
Even the best riding school kids generally find the move to their own pony a challenge. It's a bit like being a really good learner driver, passing your test first time, then going out on the road by yourself and starting to learn to drive for real.
Keep us posted when you start looking, we all love a pony search!
All children prefer the faster riding school ponies as they are MUCH easier to ride than kickalongs - but even a fast riding school pony will be much safer and easier than a private sale 'forward going' pony. As others have said, the Pony Club website is the best way to find a good, fun, safe pony but be prepared to pay a premium - you get what you pay for.
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