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New pony - can someone hold my hand please?

(57 Posts)
umbrunion Sat 01-Jun-13 15:04:08

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??

EnlightenedOwl Sat 01-Jun-13 15:59:30

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.

ExitPursuedByABear Sat 01-Jun-13 16:01:48

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!

umbrunion Sat 01-Jun-13 16:55:39

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 :-(

Littlebigbum Sat 01-Jun-13 17:07:39

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.

umbrunion Sat 01-Jun-13 17:44:37

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 sad , I have never done it before

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sat 01-Jun-13 21:17:00

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.

umbrunion Sat 01-Jun-13 21:36:09

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.

Kormachameleon Sat 01-Jun-13 21:42:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sat 01-Jun-13 21:47:52

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.

suchashame Sat 01-Jun-13 22:14:43

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. ?

LoveSewingBee Sat 01-Jun-13 22:38:24

Totally agree with Saggy and Such

I wouldn't ride until he is settled. But do spend time with him, grooming, walking, chatting etc.

Booboostoo Sun 02-Jun-13 08:40:30

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!

mrslaughan Sun 02-Jun-13 11:53:01

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 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......

Kormachameleon Sun 02-Jun-13 13:41:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 02-Jun-13 15:38:15

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?

EnlightenedOwl Sun 02-Jun-13 18:37:46

I think it would be worth getting someone who can help you along - instructor, experienced help, whatever.

mrslaughan Sun 02-Jun-13 19:18:26

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.

needastrongone Sun 02-Jun-13 19:43:06


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!

Kormachameleon Sun 02-Jun-13 19:45:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 02-Jun-13 19:54:14

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.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sun 02-Jun-13 19:59:00

You sound lovely MrsV. smile

needastrongone Sun 02-Jun-13 21:28:35

No it's me being too defensive sorry about that smile

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!

needastrongone Sun 02-Jun-13 21:30:45

Knew not new, iPhone corrections lol

umbrunion Sun 02-Jun-13 22:29:17

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!

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