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Advice needed for a Mum with little experience

6 replies

m0therofdragons · 27/05/2018 22:21

I can ride a horse on a basic hack but never done more than a fast trot and only on ponies from a riding school. Dh also used to ride as a dc but not as an adult.

Dd1 is 10 and begged us to ride from age 3. She did the usual ballet and gymnastics but never looked comfortable until we gave in and for her 7th birthday gave her 4 lessons. It was obvious she was a natural and completely at home on a horse and mucking our stables. Those 4 lessons never stopped and she's been riding for more than 3 years now progressing well.

I don't feel happy buying her a pony as she'll grow and be heartbroken to sell etc and I imagine she'll go to uni and as much as I'm happy to help out I don't want the full responsibility of a pony all on me.

My question is, how do loans/shares work. Would that be a better option as she gets older? At what age would you expect a dc to be able to care for a horse if parents provide transportation? She currently does all the tack although the waffles do test her strength a bit she can do it.

This is new to dh and I but we feel than in the next 2 years she may want to take it to the next level.

OP posts:
Ariela · 27/05/2018 22:44

The advantage about having your own pony is you can take it anywhere without having to agree beforehand, so you can join Pony Club or a Riding Club and take advantage of their 3rd party insurance, cheaper lessons and (more in the case of Pony Club) lots of fun things with other members like taking badges, learning stable management and Camp. If you go down this route but are not au fait with looking after a pony either pick a yard to keep the pony on where you CAN get help from the people that run the yard or look at taking a qualification such as the BHS owners certificate, ideally before you get the pony.
There may be a Pony Club Centre, which is a type of Pony Club for those that do not own their own pony, at the stables at which she rides or at another one nearby, and if you join your daughter ther will be opportunities to learn the stable management.
Or the other option (which is what we did) we paid an instructor for a couple of sessions to teach my daughter how to look after her pony at home.

You can either buy your own pony or loan one - so you take everything on both the costs and all the looking after (get recommendations from your local Pony Club District Commisioner for a suitable one, they're never advertised just pass from one member to another ).

Alternatively you can share a pony - so somebody has one but perhaps has nobody to ride it (outgrown by one of their children possibly), or they want somebody to ride it for perhaps half the week and it'll be in return for a share of the costs and/or a chunk of the looking after. The disadvantage of this is that you might not be able to ride the pony whenever you want, and you might also not be able to take the pony to eg Pony Club or shows, it depends what the owner wants to let you do. The advantage of this is that if you are new to looking after a pony the owner is often on hand to help you.

We borrowed the pony at the end of the road for a year when my daughter was 9 , but she got very tall for her so then we bought her two when she was 10 (one was an oldie to keep the main one company, who is now in late 20s and still teaching little children to ride!) and she knew that when outgrown they'd be sold on.

Daughter has a horse, is at Uni, drives and so looks after the horse before & after Uni (although I do help from time to time I never ride it)

m0therofdragons · 27/05/2018 23:45

We don't live anywhere near any universities so she is likely to be away term time (that's a long way off). She's likely to continue lessons at the school she's with which is small and family-run. I will ask them once we have an idea what we want.

I'm fairly nervous about buying one as I have no idea what the difference is between a £500 and £8000. I could easily be ripped off. Plus it would still be alive in 8 years so uni would be an issue. I think sharing would be a gentle way in but I guess it depends on the person you're sharing with.

OP posts:
maxelly · 28/05/2018 00:49

I think you are being very sensible to be cautious about buying, a horse or pony of your own is a huge practical and financial commitment. Your DD will have GCSEs around the corner and bear in mind that not all pony-mad kids turn into pony-mad teenagers, there are so many distractions for them at that age!

I think a loan or share would be a better first step, you have a few options to consider:

-Full Loan. In this scenario you take full responsibility for all care and upkeep of the pony for the duration of the loan. You can normally decide where it is kept (some contracts will specify a certain yard). Normally there is no charge for the loan itself but obviously you need to budget for livery costs, feed, vet bills, insurance etc.

-Part loan or share. In this option the pony remains at its current yard and the owner retains overall control and responsibility/decision making for it. Your DD would get to ride the pony 1-3 days a week in exchange for a financial contribution and/or stable duties on 'her' days.

-Riding school loan schemes. Many larger schools do these now- not a true loan as the pony is still used in the school but the loaner can ride 'their' pony outside lessons for a set number of days a week. The school will often offer the chance to do Pony Club or competitions to loaners as well. A good way to ease into the world of loaning/ownership!

Some things to consider:

-Ensure that you have a written contract with the pony's owner, whatever arrangement you go for. Setting out things like who is responsible for what financially, what happens if the pony is unwell or injured, what insurances (personal, for the pony and third party) need to be in place, notice required if either party wants to end the arrangement. If you or your DD are a BHS member they have an advice line and template contracts you can access, very useful.

-Be wary of over-horsing your DD, particularly if you go for a full loan or share where the owner is not very involved/present. She sounds like a great, confident rider but it can be quite a transition going from riding well-trained, hard-working school ponies under the eye of an instructor, to riding a privately owned pony who may only be worked a few times a week all alone. There are some unscrupulous individuals out there who could try and 'sell' you an unsuitable animal and it would be a real shame to knock her confidence... for her first loan/share you should look for an older school-master type, used to being ridden by novice children (your DD may not be a novice in riding school terms but you should run a mile from anything described as 'not a novice ride' - horsey code for nutter!). Much better to play it safe and go for a steady/tolerant type, she can always trade up for something with more whizz further down the line (which is the beauty of loaning/sharing, if the pony is outgrown or not quite right then much easier to move on!). As you are not experienced yourself can you ask DD's instructor to come with you to view any possible loans/shares?

Re the age for caring, I wouldn't expect any pre-teen to take on full care/responsibility. A sensible 13-15 year old may be able to do the majority of jobs with an adult present but not actively supervising (they shouldn't be completely alone on the yard in case of accidents or emergencies). But as above, teenagers often have a lot on with school, other sports/hobbies and friends, and particularly in the winter it's hard going for them (think trekking across dark fields after school to give hay, breaking ice in water troughs at 6am, carting heavy barrows of muck and water buckets around the yard etc). So I think you probably need to count on having to provide at least some care for the pony yourself for the foreseeable future. This is why a share can be a better option than full loan (as you are only responsible a few days a week, much easier to manage). Or otherwise if you can afford it, budget to have the pony on full livery, so all jobs are taken care of by the yard and your DD would just have to turn up, groom and ride. Bear in mind also that different yards will have different rules on supervision of children on yards and at what age they can ride/be on the yard without a parent present (between 12-16 would be normal), so you need to factor this in if you were hoping to be able to drop her off and not hang around!

Good luck, hope it works out for you! Any other questions, happy to help!

m0therofdragons · 28/05/2018 09:23

Thank you, that's really helpful. I was thinking 13-14 would be a good age and we will know by then if she's still passionate about it.

OP posts:
LadyLance · 29/05/2018 18:21

I agree that if you don't want to own a pony, you don't need to. Plenty of people never get this opportunity and still enjoy riding as a hobby.

When a child is under 18, owning is really the parent's commitment in many ways, especially when it comes to things like making decisions about veterinary treatment etc.

Initially, I think a share is great if you can find a good one. The owners are usually more involved and willing to give a bit of help and support to start with. You wouldn't have to make decisions about feeding, vet care, shoeing, tack etc, as the owner would do all of this. If your DD is under 18, most owners will want an agreement with you, and may want you to be on the yard while your DD is to make sure she's safe and sticking to the terms of the share.

A full loan is only a small step down from ownership, really, and there is the added difficulty that the owner could ask for their horse back at any time, even if the loan is billed as "permanent". Obviously, for you, the advantages are that you can hand the horse back too, and you wouldn't have to make the vet decisions at the extreme end of the scale that many parents don't want to be involved in. Again, the agreement would be with you, though. Loaning is usually a lot more expensive as the day to day costs, including livery, would be paid by you.

WRT care, I think most children are capable from about 14 up. It's not so much a physical strength thing, as a being able to deal with emergencies thing. Think about how she might deal with finding the pony tangled in a fence or colicking in its stable, or even something more minor, like the pony losing a shoe or tack being unsafe to ride in. She needs to have the maturity to know when to ask for help and when it wouldn't be safe to ride. I wouldn't leave an under 16 completely alone, with no-one to ask for help from.

Either way, make sure you have a written agreement that spells everything out. You will normally need to sign this not your DD, as under 18 she can't enter into a contract.

BTW, if she is riding a horse/pony on a public road or right of way and not under anyone's supervision, she may be liable for any accidents caused, so you will also need to make sure she has public liability insurance- BHS or pony club membership is a great way to get this.

DraughtyWindow · 30/05/2018 13:40

OP - there’s some really great advice on here. You’re being really sensible. My daughter has had her own ponies from aged 4. (Because all the ponies for loan near us have been unsuitable for a variety of reasons). I’m still doing most of the work even now she’s 15, despite the fact she’s still keen. (I must admit I’m OCD about mucking out so that’s my fault! Blush).
You may want to reconsider at 12 though as there’s much fun to be had at Pony Club (camps and rallies) and friendships are formed for life. I can thoroughly recommend it! Good luck!

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