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DD7 - wants a pony, novice mum needs advice

16 replies

debs227 · 31/12/2011 11:33

My dd7 has been having riding lessons every week for about 16 months, this was her own idea and she loves it, is horse and pony mad. I have never ridden although have family members and friends that do.

She has been helping my friend out with her horses, poo picking etc which she loves and brushing, getting them ready for events etc.

But she is now asking for her own pony, she doesn't have any friends with their own ponies, in fact not many of her friends ride. My friends have suggested part loaning from a riding school but they do not do this in our area. What other options do we have? bearing in mind i have no experience of horsecare but am willing to learn, fast!!

thanks in advance

OP posts:
DedalusDigglesPocketWatch · 31/12/2011 11:36


In our area the RDA (riding for the disabled) often want loaners for their horses and if they are kept at the riding centre you may only have to part loan iyswim?

Sorry, not mych help, got a heavy toddler asleep on me!

debs227 · 31/12/2011 11:43

thanks dedalus - i suppose it is worth me ringing round, we have lots of RDA within reach but i suppose they don't advertise the fact.
Can you explain part loan - are you allowed to take the pony out for fun rides etc or do they have to stay at the yard. Where DD goes to have her lessons, none of the ponies leave the yard.

OP posts:
DedalusDigglesPocketWatch · 31/12/2011 12:36

Where we were, there was a little yard attached to a main livery yard that was for the RDA ponies. People loaned these out, they lived on the yard, but depending on the pony could be hacked out and pony clubbed. All food/bed/vet/farrier was included in the cost.

It was a starting block for a lot of our pony club.

marialuisa · 31/12/2011 12:52

It may be worth looking on the branch website for your local pony club to see if anyone has a pony they are looking for a sharer for or to loan out? How do you get on with the instructors at the riding school she goes to, would they be ale to suggest anything?

Eve · 31/12/2011 12:58

What area you in?

Look on lots of horse websites, preloved, free ads etc etc... For people part loaning ther ponies. Lots have kids ponies that cost a lot and on get ridden enough and are looking fora rider to either pay or do some jobs.

Place a part loan wanted ad as well but be honest about your daughters ability, 16 months on riding school ponies is still very novice.

VivaLeBeaver · 31/12/2011 12:58

I looked into a horse loan for me a while ago, but circumstances changed before anything was finalised. However I had a few offers. I googled and found pony forums and some of the forums had bits where you could put free ads in looking for a pony. Also there were ads from people with a horse looking for a sharer.

One horse I went to see they wanted £80 a month towards livery and I could ride pretty much as much as I wanted and take horse out in the forest, etc.

Then there was someone else who had a few horses in their own field and didn't want money but needed help with exercising.

You might find another mum and child near you with a pony who either needs help with stable duties in return for rides or a bit towards livery in return.

My sister has currently borrowed a pony for free over the winter for her kids. But she has a field and stable to put it in so is stabling it, feeding it, shoeing it and exercising it. But to all intents and purposes it's hers for a year.

DedalusDigglesPocketWatch · 31/12/2011 13:45

Most loans are 'free' tbh, as in you don't actually pay for the horse. But you pay all costs, so the only saving you make is the initial cost of buying a horse

debs227 · 31/12/2011 19:31

eve - we are in herefordshire.

I will look into a possible loan from an RDA centre, that sounds a good option.

I realise she is still very novice, but i guess everyone has to start somewhere and i just want her to be able to join in and be able to make friends in the same situation.

OP posts:
Booboostoo · 31/12/2011 21:22

You have a number of options:

  • sharing a pony. You share the pony with the owner and it all depends on what you agree between you. Some owners expect a contribution towards costs, others simply want you to help out with stable duties and rides. The advantages are that you don't have to pay for a pony, you share costs and responsibilities, you have instant help and advice, and you don't have to do the pony every day. You should be able to do most things with the pony, e.g. ride in school, go for a hack, have a lesson and if the owner has transport they may wish to take you to shows eventually. The disadvantages are that you have to go to that person's yard and stick to their rules and ideas of what should happen to the pony. If you go down this route make sure you have a written agreement, see the BHS website for a sample.

-loan. You take full responsibility for the pony but it still belongs to the owner. Either party may terminate the loan, so that you can return the pony if unsuitable but the owner can also take it back even if you are having a great time. You will need to take care of the pony 24/7 so you need some level of stable management and to keep it with a knowlegeable yard manager. Advantages are that you can do your own thing with the pony without having to pay for one, you can keep it where you want, but can return it if things don't work out. Disadvantages are that you have full responsibility for the animal, and the owner can take it back if he wants to. If you go down this route make sure you have a written agreement, see the BHS website for a sample.

  • buy. Good chidlren's ponies are out there but are usually sold for a decent amount of money and mainly through word of mouth because everyone wants a safe pony for their kid. This will be your own pony to do with as you please, but you will also be stuck with it 24/7, if it is sick, if it is unridable or if your DD outgrows it. Also many ponies are often mis-sold and turn out to be unsuitable or are far too much for children coping on their own (riding in an RC is totally different from having your own pony. The pony will be getting much less exercise and will be asked to cope with much more varied conditions).

A coupld of general things:
  1. Mums and dads take on most of the day to day care responsibility for the pony as the kids are just too young so I would strongly suggest you take some stable management lessons to get an idea of the work involved. BHS registered yards will offer stable management lessons.
  2. Do not consider loaning or buying without knowing where you will keep the pony. A yard with decent facilites and other people on site to ask for advice and help is a must for first time owners.
  3. Visit all the private yards in your area and ask around for a share. It's often the best way to get into horse ownership.
  4. When you say 'none of the ponies leave the yard' does that mean that your daughter hasn't been on hacks or that she hasn't been on shows? The latter is not that important, you need transport for shows and it's a bit of an extra than a necessity, but if your daughter has never hacked that is a problem. Hacking is what she would mostly do with her own pony (schooling 6 days a week is very dull for everyone!), and she needs to have experience of hacking (hacking is totally different from schooling). She would also need to keep the pony in a yard with safe hacking (ideally off road) and other children to hack out with. At 7 you would probably want to go with her on foot/cycle but as she gets older she will want to go out alone.
  5. Avoid doing anything in the middle of the winter. The weather is miserable and you spend most of your time cleaning rather than riding and the ponies are all wound up from the cold/wind/rain and likely to mess about. Wait till spring!
debs227 · 31/12/2011 22:22

booboostoo - wow that is a fantastic post, very informative, thank you.

Ponies leaving yard - yes they go out on hacks on riding school farmland but they are not transported out for other events. DD usually spends every lesson (group lesson) in school she has been on couple of hacks.

There are no shows or little competitions at her riding school, although since 'googling' today i have found out some other schools within easy travelling distance do have mini competitions and 'own-a-pony' days where children can try it out. So that might be a consideration to try a different school where she can take part in other activities.

Yes, i think the stable management lessons for me sound a great idea so i can learn the ropes and be more prepared, even if horse ownership is a few years away from us.

At what age do they start doing 'pony club' is this for older children?

OP posts:
Mirage · 31/12/2011 22:24

There is a lot of good advice given here.We were in a similar situation earlier this year,my 7 year old dd had been having lessons for 4 years before we bought a pony.I wasn't prepared for how different riding your own pony is than riding a RS one [and I used to ride!].RS ponies aren't neccesarily taking instructions from their jockeys,they are on auto pilot and taking their cues from the instructor,so when the child gets onto their own pony that is dependent on them for the cues and they don't get the right ones or the ones they have been used to,it can lead to a lot of frustration on both sides.DD1 had to go back to basics with our pony and according to her PC instructor,she is a good,confident little rider.Even so,we had to get an instructor in so she could get to grips with how the pony was wired.

It is also a lot of work-I'm lucky enough to have our pony at home and work part time,but she takes up all my spare time.I walk countless miles each week accompanying the dds on hacks as they are 6 and 8,too young to ride alone.I love our pony and wouldn't be without her,but she is a lot of hard work and at present,it falls on me.I'm the one who is there for vets,dentists,back people,farriers,I bought the horsebox and will have to change my much loved car to something that can tow.I'm the one who makes sure she gets her tea on time and arranges cover if we are away.

I don't want to put a downer on your plans,but the reality of pony ownership is a lot of fun,but a lot of hard work too.Plus ponies can be the work of the devil and are constantly thinking up ways to thwart you.Wink

marialuisa · 31/12/2011 23:03

They can do pony club from younger than 7, would suggest looking on the pony club website to see if any of your local riding schools offer centre membership.

Booboostoo · 02/01/2012 10:09

'Own a pony' days are a great idea and may keep your DD happy for a little while yet before you need to make a decision.

The Pony Club take kids of all ages and you don't have to own a pony.

Best of luck!

twooter · 02/01/2012 10:20

Might be worth seeing if she can help out on a yard - doing mucking out, cleaning tack, grooming etc. That way she will get a lot more experience than just from a single day, and will also find out a bit more about different pony personalities and what type she likes.

It would be a good Idea to have your first on loan - that way you can go for a very quiet option to learn the ropes, without having the guilt of selling it when your dd is ready for something with a bit more energy ( which could be quite soon)

Olderyetwilder · 02/01/2012 11:42

I'd definitely try 'own a pony' days etc, and look around the tack shops etc as that's often where people advertise for sharers etc. (although I found a fab sharer in here).

If you can find a good share (owner who's prepared to put the time in to explain things and help you and dd increase your knowledge, reasonable people who you get along with etc) I think this is an excellent way to start out.

What we did was to loan a pony (who we then bought, and now have someone part loaning as he's now too small). For the first year we kept him on full livery at a riding school while we were gaining experience as I felt too rusty to take on his care without expert help. It also meant that gd could have lessons on her pony without the need for transport or the hassle of finding an instructor. Initially she had 3 lessons a week because Mirage is absolutely right that private ponies are totally different from school ponies and gd needed to raise her game quite quickly.

Two years down the line we have 4 horses and are at a lovely yard, much cheaper and still get lots of help but without the 'supervision' and I'm trying to be the good share owner I described above to the young sharer of our first pony.

It is difficult to describe the way family life changes though when horses join the family. It quickly becomes all consuming, and if there are non-horsey other children (or partners) managing that so that their interests aren't neglected. But we've never been happier (or poorer)

LynnHenry · 02/01/2012 11:43

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