Shetland advice(9 Posts)
Our children (5, 3 and newborn) are getting a Shetland for their birthday.
It has been years since I have been near anything that little and I am wondering if anyone could give me some general advice? The children are well used to horses as we used to live on a farm with ten of the beasts but they have always been working and not really seen as pets.
This pony will be kept right next to the house.
Thanks in advance
Will it have company? Two might be better!
I'd say just remember that they really don't need much grass aand be on lami watch. And remember that ponies get through fences that keep big horses in (some of them anywY!).
It will be on its own until we can get our broodmare back - it will have sheep/goats and cows for company and twice daily walks.
Good point about grazing. Our horses have always been turned out year round on 100+ acres so restricting feed will be a new concept.
Is there a formula for how much per acre etc they need?
Also I'm hoping to get my son some lessons now we are closer to town, my husband was going to teach the kids but I suspect he will get a bit bored. Would it be best to take our own pony to lessons or use a riding schools? I'm a bit wary of learning to trot etc on something with such small legs...
I used to be an experienced rider but after a bad fall a few years ago am now very very nervous unless on my husbands main hack. My husband is very confident and rides daily for work - he doesn't have any "technical" knowledge though as he never went to pony club or competed.
I'd try and find a local freelance instructor for lessons and go from there. They'd come to you. You could let the children have lessons at a riding school now while you haven't got a pony. I taught my stepson on his section A while out on lead rein hacks too. I know what you mean about learning rising trot on a short striding pony!
I'd say 1/2 acre per pony and see how you go. You might need a grazing muzzle on good pasture.
Does it need to be a shetland? They are not the easiest to learn to ride on because of both a) short legs and b) shetland evilness Just wondering if a little Welsh A or dartmoor might be an easier shout, especially as your oldest is likely to want to be doing more in a couple of years time.
We are being given the Shetland and saving it from being sent to dog tucker. So ues it does.
Very open to buying a different pony later on I always said I would start with a bigger pony but this one has just landed in our laps
Kids that age can learn on hacks initially. You just need to make it fun for them. It's how both of mine started out. We always had someone walking beside them until they felt confident, but from them being 4-5 yrs old I was riding my horse and leading one of them. They are 9 and 6 now and I took them both out hunting for the first time last month, which was both terrifying and fabulous to see them both cantering along happily behind the field. They are also both Pony Club members - this gives them access to regular Mini rallies and hence a peer group (I think kids learn much better when they have friends to learn with) and also public liability insurance (in case the pony manages to damage someone else's property.)
Shetlands are a law unto themselves. My sister has 2 tiny ones and they live on less than a third of an acre. They are designed to make the most of whatever grazing they have but like other small native breeds are prone to overeating. They are also small enough to fit through very small gaps in fencing, (and have a big enough mane to ensure they have no respect for electric fencing!) so make sure your paddock is well contained.
The final thing that I would say is this: Don't assume that because they are little that they don't need the same upkeep as a horse. They still need their feet, teeth, vaccs and wormers doing. If they are not feeling on top of the world there is nothing worse than a grumpy Shetland! Keep them healthy and happy and you should have a lot of fun.
I found a shetland great to teach both mine on. My daughter picked up rising trot in about five minutes so I don't think the short legs were a drawback, in fact I found it so easy to let them trot while on the lead rein because I could still walk along quite comfortably next to them! My son who has SLD couldn't really understand the 'up/downs' but could still happily do sitting trot without feeling unsafe. Our girl was brave and bombproof which made taking the dcs out on her a pleasure as there was no silly shying. I think I can credit the fact that she would walk past anything with my son's complete lack of fear ever since. You do have to treat them like 'proper' horses though and not toys as they will take the micky if you let them get away with too much.
When we first took on our shetland she was 'prone to laminitis'
far too fat. Our vet told us that when grazing is plentiful then half an hour's grazing out of 24 is plenty of grass for a shetland (obviously you have to give them some hay the rest of the time, you don't just starve them). We found we had to section off a corner of the paddock and leave it quite bare so she could go in there during the day as a) we didn't have a stable and b) she didn't keep trying to escape if she could see the others. We would also give her a feed of chaff and fibrebeet to fill her up before turning out so she couldn't stuff herself with quite so much grass. Keep your eye out for warning signs such as puffiness above the eyes and you can hopefully nip any laminitis in the bud by getting them off the grass for a couple of days. In the winter avoid letting them graze on frosty grass if the sun is on it as it will be chock full of sugar and can bring on an acute attack.
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