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Everyone telling us to call it quits with dpony

(60 Posts)
Lalalalalalalalaland Fri 02-Aug-19 17:54:17

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?

notquiteruralbliss Fri 02-Aug-19 20:36:55

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.

Rosieposy4 Fri 02-Aug-19 20:41:32

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.

elastamum Fri 02-Aug-19 20:56:37

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.

maxelly Fri 02-Aug-19 22:17:56

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...

Lalalalalalalalaland Sat 03-Aug-19 11:47:44

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!

Booboostwo Sat 03-Aug-19 15:39:28

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.

krustykittens Sat 03-Aug-19 20:01:21

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!

Katnisnevergreen Sat 03-Aug-19 20:20:50

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!!

bernietaupinspen Sat 03-Aug-19 20:36:00

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.

redcaryellowcar Sat 03-Aug-19 20:46:58

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.

lastqueenofscotland Sat 03-Aug-19 23:25:45

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.

britnay Sun 04-Aug-19 11:25:15

How big is the pony? What breed?

Lalalalalalalalaland Sun 04-Aug-19 12:39:43

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.

Lalalalalalalalaland Sun 04-Aug-19 12:42:06


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.

britnay Sun 04-Aug-19 15:35:57

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.

Belenus Sun 04-Aug-19 16:06:34

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!

happycamper11 Sun 04-Aug-19 16:10:43

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

happycamper11 Sun 04-Aug-19 16:18:32

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.

Lalalalalalalalaland Sun 04-Aug-19 20:07:37

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.

Belenus Sun 04-Aug-19 21:02:06

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.

Booboostwo Sun 04-Aug-19 21:21:34

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.

maxelly Mon 05-Aug-19 13:28:02

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?

BaldricksWife Mon 05-Aug-19 14:11:59

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.

UrsulaPandress Mon 05-Aug-19 14:16:35

That sounds like a hell of a lot of bit for a pony and an 8 year old.

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