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How long for a new pony to settle in?

14 replies

AnnaFiveTowns · 31/10/2014 20:44

How long does it normally take for a pony to settle into its new home?

We bought a little pony for our daughter a week ago and, to me, she still seems quite upset. She looks sad in the field, doesn't seem to have bonded with the little shetland we've had as a companion (actually seems to dislike her!) and seemed quite agitated when my daughter rode her. When we try to groom or fuss her she just seems really pissed off (for want of a better way of putting it!) She even bolted out of her field and ran back to her stable yesterday.

All of this is quite out of character for her. I know this as we bought her from a friend and spent time with her/ rode her beforehand.

She came from a yard with lots of horses and we are keeping her at home with just the little shetland as a companion (although next door also have a horse that she can see over the hedge).

It just makes me so sad to see her unhappy - or am I reading too much into this?

OP posts:
Zazzles007 · 31/10/2014 21:25

Give her time, she is used to having a large 'herd' of horses around her, so a new place and one other pony may make her feel insecure. Usually about 3-6 months is sufficient, but I have read of particular horses taking up to 2 years to acclimatise Confused. You are reading her correctly, but do be firm with her when she is misbehaving - bolting back to the stable is not on.

When you are grooming/fussing over her does she give you this look Hmm? When a horse isn't used to you being their 'person', some of them do give you that look Grin. Friends' horses have looked at me like that when I have had to take them out of the paddock for something. A new loan I had was very wary of me at first. After 3 months he gave a me a look that said "Ah, so you're my person now!"

AnnaFiveTowns · 31/10/2014 22:05

2 years, Zazzle?! Oh no! I was quite worried before she came as she's been there for over 6 years. There is no icon for the look she gives me. It's kind of ears slightly back but not right back like she does to the poor little Shetland. She just seems irritated and not happy with me! Pissed off and annoyed! And then when she's standing in the field she looks like thisHmm - depressed!

I was concerned about her being upset but it's worse than I thought! I feel quite heartbroken, like I've wrenched her away from her happy home Sad

OP posts:
GemmaPuddledDuck · 31/10/2014 23:20

I would try not to worry about it as she will pick up on that.

Do you know the activities she enjoys, long hacks, jumping?

Some people advise not riding at first, but I think it's better to start as you will go on, fitness allowing.

Let us know how you get on.

Zazzles007 · 01/11/2014 00:57

Ah Anna, I wouldn't worry about it too much either. Being a mare, her looks might be quite a bit more expressive than a gelding's too. 2 years is not the norm I hasten to add - probably more like very, very stressed animals that were not integrating well into their new home. The vast majority of horses/ponies seems to settle in within 3-6 months - that is the message you should be taking away from this.

Don't worry about the pissed off mare stares that she might be giving you either - once settled in, horses stop giving off those looks and their entire facial expressions can change. I know mine did Smile. Mares in particular can be give off really annoyed facial expressions, but this will change with time. Be consistent and firm with her, she will come round Smile.

Goldenlab · 02/11/2014 20:14

I'd say about six months for a horse to really settle in. You often get a period of good behaviour during e honeymoon period, followed by some piss taking behaviour which has to be worked through, followed by settling down if you are firm and work through it. Are there more horses on site or is it just the Shetland?

backinthebox · 03/11/2014 09:09

It depends entirely on the pony's personality too. As with humans, some adapt to new settings much quicker than others. DS's pony made himself at home on day one, but DD's pony is still a bit fretful sometimes 7 months down the line. It took him a good 3 months to fit in with the yard routine, but he is the biggest princess I have ever come across (suits DD down to the ground then Grin) whereas DS's pony is extremely stoic and just gets on with things.

sharanel · 03/11/2014 10:36

We also bought a new horse about four days ago. He's settled remarkably quickly - we've been hacking him from the day after he arrived and he's great apart from very fidgety when he has to stand Hmm

I've been giving him topspec calmer from day one. 18 months ago we got a new pony and he took AGES to settle and made it quite clear that he had no time for any of us Grin. Giving them jobs to do and keeping them busy really helps. I gave him calmer after a couple of months on a friend's recommendation and it did help him settle. Also you could try rescue remedy on half an apple just before you groom her and see it that helps. I am sure she will settle in time, she is just showing you that she is a clever mare who, when she bonds with you, will be a friend for life!

Zazzles007 · 03/11/2014 10:50

Actually, now that I think about it, the loaner that I had for 5 years gave me the pissed off look from about the 6-12 month stage. I think he was trying to exert his dominance over me though, as it also coincided with a number of other dominant behaviours. Eg trying to drag me all over the place Hmm Grin. It stopped when I started giving him carrots after each ride Grin

sharanel · 03/11/2014 11:05

one of our ponies gives us evils every now and again. We just ignore him, he can't help having a grumpy face lol

AnnaFiveTowns · 03/11/2014 20:58

Thanks for all your replies!

Yes, Goldenlab, the Shetland is the only other pony here - apart from our neighbour's horse but she's not always out. This could be part of the problem, that she's come from a big herd where she was at the bottom of the pecking order and now she's the dominant one and it's a bit scary for her.

I think she's definitely testing me a bit as I left her stable door open by accident and she sneaked out and she kept running off when I tried to get her head collar back on. I suppose I'm not very confident as it's been a long time since I've looked after a pony and she's picking up on this.

She does seem a bit more settled now though, I think.

OP posts:
Goldenlab · 03/11/2014 22:20

Glad she's settling. Lots and lots of groundwork then. I would make a point of bringing her out during the day, giving her a nice groom and fuss and then posting a treat in her mouth before taking her back to the field. Make sure she walks back nicely, backing up when needed and pop her back out. She will probably appreciate the attention (mine loves this) and it will be good to get her away from the Shetland for short periods to make sure they don't get bonding problems.

backinthebox · 04/11/2014 09:39

"....I left her stable door open by accident and she sneaked out and she kept running off when I tried to get her head collar back on...."

Just so you know, that's what most ponies would do, given the chance! Your's sounds as though she is behaving in a normal pony way. I love my littlest pony to bits, but I know he would give me trouble if I left even the tiniest crack in the door!

AnnaFiveTowns · 04/11/2014 19:58

Thanks for that Backinthebox - it's good to know that it's me, not her! It's been such a long time since I looked after a pony so this is a sharp learning curve for me! I did rather suspect that what she did is quite normal but it's reassuring to hear. Im obviously expecting too much of her. I think my inexperience is a big part of the problem - maybe she's wondering who the hell is in charge!

OP posts:
Zazzles007 · 05/11/2014 08:52

maybe she's wondering who the hell is in charge!


There is often a bit of argy-bargy between the new pony and the owner while they try to figure out who is the boss in the relationship (obviously it should be you). It sounds like she is testing her boundaries and seeing if she can come out on top. All of this is a very normal part of horse ownership. Be firm and fair with her, and she will come round.

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