Everyone telling us to call it quits with dpony(60 Posts)
Bought a pony around 6 weeks ago for DD who is nearly 8.
Came from neighbouring pony club, ex BSJA pony flew through its vetting and came with millions of amazing references. He's 22x we wanted something older that had been there and done that.
DD tried the pony a few times and he was ace. Got him home and started having problems jumping he just always dashes out to the right. We went to camp this week and he did it at nearly every jump.
He is otherwise great, hacks out without a lead rein hoof perfect, the few times shes fallen hes just stood by her and not run off, great manners on the ground.
She has twice lost her reins bringing him back to trot from canter as he pulls his head down, I'm presuming this is due to her pulling too hard on his bit.
His bit is a 3 ring gag with a grackle which i think is too much though he can be strong at times but she isn't yet gentle enough with her hands.
A few parents at camp have said we should just chalk it up to a bad job and get a new pony after he dodged every jump in the cross country.
However i don't want to give up on him as he is otherwise perfect. His old owners have been amazing and offered us loads of advice but it all comes down to the fact that she needs to be bossy with him and she isn't. I'm not sure that confidence can be taught, you are either brave or you aren't.
In this scenario would you stick at it with lots of lessins with good instructors and hope it comes or sell and try something easier for her?
Maybe dial down the jumping and XC and let your DD and her new pony get used to each other and form a proper partnership. She’s only 8. There’s no rush. I would just take a step back and do what they, are ready to do. The fact he has done BSJA before doesn’t mean that he and your DD are ready to do the same. They need to get to know each other. If he is a nice person and safe to hack that is a huge plus.
I wouldn’t sell him yet. Like the pp I would do very little jumping for quite a while and let them hack out, and a bit of schooling to get to know each other.
When you think they are much better acquainted go back to jumping, but really tiny jumps that are more bother to run out than jump, and also if possible with hedge/arena fence on rhs.
Get her some lessons, do some hacking and give it six months. She needs to get to know the pony. He isn't a machine and it takes time to build a partnership. Old ponies can be very smart and it will take her a while to get her confidence.
Good advice here. 6 weeks in is really early days, I'd give it more time. He's probably still settling in to his new home, herd and routine and she'll be getting used to a pony who sounds trickier than what she has been used to? That transition from easy first ridden to more competition type 2nd pony catches a lot of DC out, they can be really good confident riders but used to more of a push button or kickalong type and something which is more sensitive and unforgiving, needing to be asked in the right way or they'll tell you 'no!' can come as a real shock. But if it helps with good teaching and encouragement most of them come out the other side better riders for it.
First things first, I know you had the pony vetted but I'd give him a full health check - I'd be surprised if at 22 he didn't have the odd little ache or stiffness somewhere, and starting to refuse or run out at jumps can often be the first sign. Did he come with a saddle or have you bought one? They can change shape a lot in a surprisingly short period so I'd get the saddler out to check the fit, the dentist for a look at his mouth, the physio to give him a good going over. I'd also get an instructor to recommend whether she should swap bits to something kinder on his mouth?
Then I'd definitely get some lessons with an experienced and sympathetic instructor who can work on their partnership. Obviously I haven't seen either of them but my guess is that the 'she needs to be firmer' advice is perhaps a bit simplistic, in my experience it's about clear, correct aids first and foremost. It's certainly not about bullying the pony which is a recipe for disaster. Sure, if the pony is really napping or taking the mick then a short sharp telling off is needed, but there's no point giving a muddled aid such as kicking into a fence whilst also blocking with the seat or hooking back on the reins, then hitting or booting the pony for stopping, that will only lead to frustration or confusion on both sides! Even subtle mixed messages such as a slight lack of balance will be picked up on by a well schooled pony and can lead to behaviour which looks a lot like naughtiness to the untrained eye. But a good instructor should be able to spot the difference and help your DD ride more effectively and also give good corrections where she needs to!
It's really hard at this time of year because naturally all kids want to do camp and shows etc. but as others have said I'd try and dial it back a notch and keep things easy, fun and within their comfort zone. I know she'll feel frustrated and perhaps a bit upset that she'll have to go back to 'boring' basics rather than whizzing around winning rosettes etc on her new pony as she was doubtless imagining (if I know pony mad DC at all!) but it's a good bracing life lesson and an exercise in character building - sadly horses are great at teaching us those!
She doesn't have to stop jumping all together but I'd stick to the arena for now (or perhaps a little log out hacking), keep the height nice and low so he can still happily go even if he's on a wrong stride or a bit under-powered. I'd do lots of confidence building things like grid work and also schooling exercises and little courses so she can learn to place him on the right stride and keep a rhythm up, anything that works on steering and straightness is good as it sounds as though she's maybe not getting him quite straight to fences if he's ducking out all the time?
Good luck, hope it works out for her...
Thanks for the advice!
We certainly weren't planning on doing any BSJA.
Dentist and vet have been out since we've had him and physio is due out next week. The saddle came with him however thats great advice to get it checked over, especially as he has gained condition with us.
Nice to know I'm not going mad, i had thought a back to basics with lots of lessins approach was best but worried when far more experienced PC parents were saying to chalk it up to a bad job!
The jumps are by no means high, think cross pole on lowest setting... he ran out of a trotting pole!
New pony to cross country jumping in six weeks is ambitious. Is she having any lessons? She needs to get to grips with him on the flat, then sort out SJ before going anywhere near solid fences. From what you say, gag and pulling her forward, he does sound strong for her so she needs to improve her technique. An experienced instructor will also be able to advise on whether she can learn to ride him or whether he is too much for her.
I agree with everyone else, take a step back, let them have some fun getting to know each other, and then get a good instructor to teach them. He sounds like a fab pony, just not a perfect one. You don't learn to be a good rider on perfect ponies!
IF the pony has been doing BSJA with previous owners, could it be that the jumps your dd is putting him at are too low for him to bother with? I had a mare like that, would run out/knock down at 2’3 but soar over 3’ plus with ease.
Also, I would focus on your dds seat, a grackle and gag are really strong for a child who isn’t soft with her hands. Could you try in a snaffle/french link and keep her close or on the lunge for a bit while she figures out her brakes and steering? If she’s jabbing him in the mouth accidentally then he’ll just lock up and keep ducking out.
Have you a smallish instructor/capable teenager who could have a go? You don’t say how big the pony is but it would let you see that he can do what she is asking and perhaps how best to ride him.
Good luck, nothing worse than a disappointed child at pony camp!!
Tbh a 7 year old riding a pony that needs a gag in its mouth would be a no from me.
But I agree with pp's too much too soon.
I think having a lightweight adult or competent teen ride him to establish if it's your dd who isn't 'bossy' enough would be a useful exercise. I also think the bit needs to be looked at, as I'm sure there must be other ways of ensuring she has brakes and steerage, without the need for that type of bit? I'd look for a well qualified and experienced instructor to help look at your dd riding and ponies tack.
A grackle and a gag are serious kit for a child that’s not yet soft in the hand. He may be running out and misbehaving as a way of saying “get off my face”
I’d be working on flatwork, flatwork and then maybe some more flatwork and teaching her to ride more from her seat than her hands and leg alone.
He's 13.2 and a welsh cross. DD is very big for her age.
In hindsight you are right taking him to camp so soon wasn't the best idea!
I've booked her in for a couple of flatwork lessons each week u til she goes back to school, will ask her instructor if she can recommend a better bit! Thanks for all the advice.
A friends DD who is older rode him at camp and had no problem jumping him after 1 try where he refused and she came back and made him walk over.
She seemed to have no issue controlling him.
I have a 13hh welshie. He can be an absolute bugger if he puts his mind to it. He has had experienced adult riders off, who are not used to pony shenanigans! They do tend to take advantage if they think that they can surprise you!
I think definitely back to basics with flat lessons and getting him to listen. Change of bit and noseband too, especially if she is not yet gentle enough. maybe a fullcheek snaffle to help with the steering issues.
i had thought a back to basics with lots of lessins approach was best but worried when far more experienced PC parents were saying to chalk it up to a bad job!
They might be able to talk the talk OP but they may not be as experienced as they think. I wouldn't be so keen basically to throw away a good pony. This is how they end up passed from pillar to post. I agree with pp - go back to basics and lessons. Work at it and your dd will be able to learn so much from an experienced pony.
Welsh and Welsh cross can be little buggers but fortunately at 13.2 you'll be able to put small adults on him from time to time to assess what's going on. It will either be a physical issue of he doesn't understand what's being asked. And yes, it maybe that if he's been doing BSJA courses he thinks tiny cross poles with an 8 year old jockey are beneath him and he cba unless he has to. Still get all the physical checks done of course, but it could just be that!
6 weeks is no time, really he should have had that long to settle in before starting to go out and do these events. If your dd has fallen off so many times in 6 weeks and she's having these issues maybe you've over horsed her. Have you had al
The obvious back/teeth checked?? I don't think you should just call it a day after such a short time but go back to basics and look at maybe removing the grackle or using a gentler bit as that's a pretty harsh combo with unsteady hands
Please also keep a close rein on the condition gain. Laminitis is absolutely rife this year with many older horses who haven't had a hint of it in their life developing it. Such an unpleasant condition.
The condition gaining is under advice and watch from the vet as he came to us lacking condition, tested negative for cushings but could possibly be early stages. Has never been lame in his life (we have contact with previous owners since he was 7)
He is out at night, in during the day so not too much grass.
Teeth have been done and physio is due out this week to check his back. I hope we havnt overhorsed her, we tried a lot of ponies and were very fussy. We tried him, then went back with instructor who agreed he seemed a perfect fit, we then trialled him for 2 weeks.
We tried so bloody hard to get it right as first time owners.
He is perfect to load, clip, shoe, vet. DD can do all his care as he is so gentle. She can hack him out perfectly, motorcycle backfired next to him and he didn't even flinch.
He is perfect in every other way! Out instructor has suggested a full cheek waterford snaffle and to lose the grackle so we will give that a go i think.
This week we are sticking to hacking outside of the couple of lessons we have booked.
I really wouldn't want to lose a pony that good for an 8 year old. I despair of PC parents sometimes. Don't give up on him yet - it's very early days for their partnership.
Good idea to have more lessons and try different bits, but, goes without saying, don’t try a new bit out hacking. Always try it a few times in the school, in different situations to make sure she still has brakes.
He does sound great in all the other ways so certainly seems premature to get rid purely over the jumping issue (I guess the other parents perhaps were only looking at him repeatedly refusing at the XC and weren't seeing the other good stuff, plus there is a bit of a tendency to give the 'easy' answer of get rid rather than the hard road of working things through).
As you've found out it's not easy at all to find a really safe 1st/2nd ridden and you have the added issue of a very tall DD who probably needs a bigger pony than average, many 13.2+ will be more used to being ridden by bigger, stronger and more experienced riders and so it's going to take time for any partnership to bed in. I'd be the first to say don't risk it if he was actually doing anything dangerous, bucking, running off etc. but really refusing/running out at fences is quite minor in the scheme of things...
Good luck and update us on how it goes?
These older, experienced top competition ponies are very astute when coming to assess the capability of who they have on their back. Lessons to improve your DD skills sound the way forward and would probably leave jumping him to the more experienced child until your DD is more capable. Be cautious with the bit changing, he may be just fine but sometimes they wear certain bits for a reason.
That sounds like a hell of a lot of bit for a pony and an 8 year old.
My daughter has an 11.2 welsh cross who was just the same when we got her. In fact she’s the same now with anyone who is inexperienced or not bossy enough. It took around a year for my 8 yr old to learn how to handle her and probably another year to get the best out if her. She’s now 11 and handles her beautifully, typically just as she’s outgrowing her!
Stick with it, lots of lessons and lots of hacking! My daughters a much better rider for sticking with her and feels so proud of how far she’s come.
We’ve used a Tom Thumb and a Pelham, I know many will disagree with me but my young daughters safety came before the ponies mouth, in my mind at least. The pony needed a strong bit and would have had a lot more pulling at the mouth had she been in a snaffle.
Thanks! I'm going to measure him up for a new bit today. Though won't change it tomorroe as she is hacking out with friends which will be the first time he's been ridden since camp ended thursday as we've all been unwell!
I'm glad others are saying not to give up on him as i do love him and we didn't meet any other ponies that can be loaded and clipped by an 8 year old!
We will persevere and will definately update on how it goes.
It usually takes about a year to get used to a competition pony for a child who’s never had one before. The best solutions I have seen is the child gets a lot of lessons and supervision, plus the pony is schooled by a more experienced rider until the child is ready to take over full time. Otherwise you go from one mistake to the other until both child and pony lose all their confidence.
She's very young. Could a small adult / teen ride him and see if any issues? In case it's something else. I used to do this for small ponies that were bucking etc as I'm 5 ft.
Grackle and 3 ring gag on an 8 y olds pony!
At a push for xc comps if he’s really strong, but for hacking, schooling etc?
Like pp said I’d give the jumping a rest. Get a good instructor, An enclosed school and a snaffle, and let them get used to each other.
I agree with pp- that sort of bit and a new rider and he could be ducking out because it’s physically hurting/uncomfortable.
I'm glad you're keen to persevere. He sounds great, just that your daughter is a little inexperienced for him but she can learn. If he's truly safe out hacking that's the main thing for now. An experienced jumping pony will be very sharp when doing the job and be used to a far more experienced rider (especially as your daughter is tall) I'd get an older rider/small adult to continue to do a bit of jumping just to keep that ticking over and definitely don't change bit for hacking until very confident with the other one. Lots of ponies are jumped in this kit with experienced kids because they need to turn on a hairpin and shorten a stride quickly but it can mean breaks in a snaffle even out pottering about can be compromised. She might always need that for jumping XC etc which is another reason it's important to go back to basics for now.
A 3 ring gag can be quite versatile. You could make gradual changes just by changing where you put the reins e.g. try a schooling session with the rein on the snaffle ring. This article explains it quite nicely www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/dutch-gag-bit-526369 I used to put two reins on and ride mainly off the snaffle, with the second rein as emergency brake just in case but I wouldn't expect an 8 year old to manage that!
OP - it sounds like the pony is perfect in so many other ways that he's definitely worth persevering with. There are normally little blips when you get a new pony as everyone is getting used to the new relationship and figuring out where the boundaries are.
On the subject of kit it seems like the grackle and gag are getting a bit of a hard time! Just for context from the other side my 8 year old uses a grackle and gag for jumping and x country. She's very good with her hands but it just helps her with jump off turns etc. She schools, hacks and does dressage in a cavesson and a snaffle and shows in a pelham with double reins (correct kit for working hunter and many ridden classes) She can ride perfectly well with all combinations so the fact that your DD is 8 shouldn't automatically exclude her from riding with this kit as long as the pony is comfortable and she's been taught how to use it properly and isn't hanging on to his mouth.
He is perfect to load, clip, shoe, vet. DD can do all his care as he is so gentle. She can hack him out perfectly, motorcycle backfired next to him and he didn't even flinch.
Just from the above text I would say persevere - hard enough finding all of those things in an adult's horse. Would love to have that for my DD!
We are definately persevering.
She rode him yesterday for the first time since camp, 2 of her school friends came down with their ponies and they all went on a hack to the park and then went in the school.
No jumping planned just set up a mounted games course and let the kids decide what they were going to do. DD did end up jumping a little cross pole a few times and all was fine! The kids all swapped ponies and her more experienced but tiny friend flew over a few jumps on him.
But mostly they just messed around and had fun on their ponies with no lesson plan and no pressure. Which reminded me exactly why we bought her her own pony in the first place
That's great! I find with my own riding I need to almost keep a diary of what goes well as I find it so easy to dwell on the negatives otherwise (and it does sound like pony camp was a bit a nightmare for your DD!)
DD friends came back up a few weeks ago and Dpony followed friends pony over a few jumps. Next thing i know they were flying over them. She must have jumped it 20 times!!
Following week she did the 3 day camp ran by the riding school. He jumped everything (only doing crosspoles) with no refusals! On the last day they built a cross country style fence and jumped it for the parents... inagine my shock to see DD flying over it 1 handed with the worlds biggest grin and getting the camp trophy for confidence!
Its not all perfect by any means, her hands are still a bit all over the place as he has started pulling his head down in canter which causes her to lose her reins but we are getting there and very glad we didn't call it quits!
You could try these
In combination with a gentler bit and noseband. Will stop the pony being able to tug reins out of her hands and maintain a consistent contact.
His bit is ridiculous and he's taking the piss. I doubt there's anything physically wrong with him but nice of you to check.
Bsja ponies aren't necessarily in the slightest bit forgiving.
Aha sorry just seen update ! Goid news. It can take a year to get the best out of a pony.
He had a lesson in a full cheek snaffle which went fine. He cant go far in the school so didn't mind trying it.
At the moment we are just working in keeping him in trot. I presume before he worked mostly in walj and canter so just trying to keep working on a nice balanced trot but things are lookin up
Late to the thread but here’s my 2p worth: OP it sounds like you’ve landed a unicorn so am very glad to hear you’re persevering.
If it was me, I’d be less focussed on the bit and more focussed on DD’s leg and driving aids. He’s obviously a seasoned soldier and I’d bet he was testing her. Alternatively, as an older pony, he may respond better to stronger leg and seat aids?
Not saying your DD isn’t a confident rider but if she’s used to younger and less clever ponies, she may not be pushing him forwards enough or catching him in time before he ducks sideways?
There are lots of tips and tricks for this kind of behaviour so I’d be asking around for a few lessons with a decent sj instructor. It’s one of the easier problems to sort.
Good luck with it all!
We have our first clinic with a fabulous trainer next friday. And the ducking out does appear to have stopped after a lesson with the yard owner who realised that she just needed to 'let him go'
Being a showjumper hes used to working in canter, DD trying to jump him in trot and holding him bsck from cantering seemed to make him unsure what she was asking and so he was ducking out.
Now shes letti g him go the situation is much better. Definately learnt that it wasn't him it was her!
Now autumn has hit the pony club have lots of clinics on so we are going to knuckle down and attend lots of clinics and bond over the winter and see where we are in the spring.
We adore him, even if I'm pretty sure he owns us and not the other way around!
Really good to hear it's all going well for them
Great update! Hope things continue to improve over the winter and your DD builds a strong relationship with DPony.
I come to you all with bad news...
We had a downturn in jumping again and general little shitness.
Our pony club have an excellent jump trainer so we decided to go to her tonight. She told us that she knew fudge with his previous owners and she told them to stop jumping him over a year ago.
He hates it, he is possibly in pain when he jumps and we are so upset. He was missold to us. Turns out they doped him for shows and possibly doped him the few times we tried him as he was so much more docile when we tried him compared to now.
We have hopefully found an amazing pony to loan for DD1 and dpony will stay with us now as a leadnrein for DD2 (no jumping) and then officially retire when she is ready to come off the lead rein.
We are so sad he was badly treated and doped and whipped to jump by his previous owner, and so mad that as a mother she would sell this pony to our 7 year.old for pony club.
Very expensive lesson learnt
Oh my goodness, what an awful end to this story! I am not surprised though, people will do anything to get rid of a pony. Good for you for keeping the pony and I am gladness your DD wasn’t hurt during all this.
That’s a very sad update - poor pony and poor you
Oh no, poor little pony! But lucky to have landed with you, and not someone who’d dope him up and shift him on. I used to work in equine welfare... the number of people who’d do this is depressing.
Bless him, I hope he has a long and happy retirement with you. You sound like good people.
Whaaaat??? What a crazy rollercoaster of a story over only 6 weeks (and 12 weeks of pony in your life)!
What does the vet say?
It seemed like daughter was getting on so well with him having gone back to basics and taking it slower, and you've ramped up speed again really quite quickly.
FWIW I think he sounds sour from being over competed but perfectly adequate for your daughter to do flat work on.
If you had a 5* vetting ask your vets to test his blood sample for doping.
I’d be naming and shaming the previous owners. Utter utter bastards.
Oh no! So sorry to hear this. Just when things were looking up too... poor pony, but at least he's landed on his feet and will have a good home with you rather than being passed on again. I'd try and look on the positive side, at least you have found out now, if you'd pressed on and pushed him/DD to jump more and more (taking the well meaning but useless advice from other PC parents of just push him through it) it could all have ended in tears (more so than it has already!), so that's something.
It just goes to show that it's so so common for behavioural issues in horses/animals in general to be rooted in pain/fear rather than naughtiness - I'd go so far as to say nearly all the time (I know ponies can be little shits but it always sounded a bit with this one as though it was more than that).
Obviously the main blame here lies with his very unscrupulous previous owners who are scum of the earth , but I'd also want words with the vet that did the vetting and also the vet you had out to him when the problems started, did neither of them pick anything up? To be fair some things like hocks and KS only show up on X-Rays - I wouldn't blame you for not x-raying a 22 year old kids pony, and if he was doped there may not have been obvious symptoms. But if you had a 'normal' 5 stage bloods should have been taken at vetting and should show what he'd been given- if so then you may well be able to take out some kind of case against former owners as that is active deception rather than a case of caveat emptor. BHS have an excellent legal advice line you could talk to? Also is he insured for loss of use? They may well say 'previous known condition so excluded' but again if you had taken all reasonable steps including vetting and didn't find the issue then, you might get something.
So sorry this has happened, buying ponies is such a minefield. Hope your DD isn't too upset and it all works out OK with new loan pony...
Its not so much a medical issue as the fact that he is sour from being over jumped and years and years of competing, he just doesn't want to do it. the instructor told the old owners last year to stop before he hurts someone as he does not want to jump. Instructor said she had heard they gave him bute before competitions aswell as competition mix to rev him up. She is disgusted we were sold him as suitable for a 7 year old for pony club.
We had a 2 stage vetting done not a a 5 stage due to age and thst he wasn't overly expensive. Again not insured due to this reason (though she has normal pony club insurance for 3rd party) vet didn't pick up any pain or stiffness.
New loan pony is arriving monday with full references from pony.club DC, previous owners and with a 1 month trial. She can still flatwork him absoloutly but doesn't particularly have time to exercise 2 ponies, however he loves to hack and is otherwise a gentleman so he will do our 4 year old as a lovely lead rein hacking and flatwork pony. It's not his fault and unlike his previous owner we love our animals so he will live out his days with us doing som hacking and being treated like a king.
Though the past few weeks when we've stepped work back up he has been stiff behind, we have been giving glucosamine and more turnout which has helped but may be a pain element.
Flexation tests in the vetting were fine
In my experience this kind of behaviour is always down to pain. If he was able to jump on bite then clearly the painkiller was masking a physical issue.
I only mention this because I think you should be a little bit cautious with him even as a lead rein or flatwork pony. If he is in pain jumping, one day he may be in pain hacking and he may do something unpredictable and dangerous.
Thank you he can end his days with you.
I hate seeing old horses advertised for sale.
Oh what a shame for you OP, but hope it works out with your new pony.
My oldest friend bought a pony for her six year old last year; she second-viewed one before that but turned up an hour early and he hadn't been doped yet. The little girl whose parents were selling refused to get on him and was sobbing.
I'll be in the market for a first pony for DD1 in a few years and can't believe people would do this
There i definately some pain. The back lady has been out this evening and his hips and back were out of line and he is already moving so much better!
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