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Daughter pony mad! Advice

26 replies

Amielondon23 · 14/04/2021 08:36

My daughter 6 is pony mad. We’ve done a couple of lessons and she’s hooked!
I love horses but I am not from the horse world. We are never going to be in a position to ever own a horse.
Is it fair to encourage my daughters hobby if at the end of the day she will never own her own pony?
I’m happy to take her to lessons and horse events.

Also if we do continue with lessons what kit do I need to provide?
I don’t want to rock up at the stables head to toe in Harry hall and a crop and look like a right city dick!
What basic stuff should I get for her? Is a body protecter a good idea?
Opinions on second hand kit?
Thank you in advance

OP posts:
Amielondon23 · 14/04/2021 08:37

The stables have lent us a hat but it was either too tight or too loose so think for safety it’s best she has her own that fits properly

OP posts:
lastqueenofscotland · 14/04/2021 09:28

An awful lot of people never can afford their own horses, I’d not worry about that.
She NEEDS a hat that fits, I can’t possibly stress enough the importance of a well fitting hat
I’d not bother with a body protector at this stage, I’ve only ever worn mine for fast work on the gallops or cross country.
Jodhpurs are a good thing to have, don’t worry about big name brands at this stage. Go for a pair that fit. Harry Hall and Caldene have a good basic range.

Hollyhocksarenotmessy · 14/04/2021 09:56

If you can afford it, do it. I was that little girl and it's only as an adult I can really appreciate the financial and time sacrifices my parents made for me. We were a non-horsey council house family, and there was never going to be the chance for my own pony.

It brought me so much joy and happiness. They are my best childhood memories.

She needs her own hat asap, and proper riding boots are also best for safety. Other than that, nothing is essential. Jodphurs are more comfortable as there are no seams on the inside leg. Body protectors aren't necessary for beginners as they arent doing anything particularly risky. I was always delighted to get my kit for birthday or christmas presents.

BalladOfBarryAndFreda · 14/04/2021 10:02


An awful lot of people never can afford their own horses, I’d not worry about that.
She NEEDS a hat that fits, I can’t possibly stress enough the importance of a well fitting hat
I’d not bother with a body protector at this stage, I’ve only ever worn mine for fast work on the gallops or cross country.
Jodhpurs are a good thing to have, don’t worry about big name brands at this stage. Go for a pair that fit. Harry Hall and Caldene have a good basic range.

Just to say, if she’s having lessons, many stables insist on body protectors for insurance purposes. Kids grow out of body protectors really fast, so there’s usually quite a few to be had second hand on local FB horsey groups or eBay. Check what size she is wearing in the ones at the stables.
Pleasedontdothat · 14/04/2021 10:35

It’s obviously easier for children who come from horsey/wealthy backgrounds but it’s by no means impossible. My daughter was obsessed with ponies from a very early age but we live in a city, I work full time, dh is abroad for work a lot (obviously not at the moment) and she’s the youngest of three so there was no way logistically I could make her dream of having a pony come true. She didn’t even start having proper lessons until she was 8 but she was like a sponge absorbing everything she could about riding.

When she was 12 she was allowed to start volunteering at the riding school - mucking out and helping in lead rein lessons for the whole day, every weekend without even a free ride in return. However it gave her masses of experience and when she moved to a bigger riding school with more facilities they offered her a paid weekend job. She’s worked every Saturday or Sunday for the last four years with extra days in the school holidays.

From Y5 she went to Wellington Riding every summer for a week’s intensive riding holiday which she loved and she also went to a couple of summer camps with the riding school.

She was desperate for a horse of her own or at least a share but understood that she needed to be able to get herself there most of the time and be allowed to be on the yard unsupervised. Eventually when she was 15 she started sharing a horse, then took him on loan, joined Pony Club, started competing etc

Yes, she would have loved to have had a horsey childhood but she’s always been sensible and mature enough to realise that it wasn’t possible at the time. Not having it all handed to her on a plate earlier means she really appreciates what she has now. She’s worked incredibly hard, and all the different experiences she’s had (riding lots of different types of horse, learning about stable management etc) means she’s a better rider than she might otherwise have been.

So that’s a long-winded way of saying absolutely encourage her if that’s what she wants to do. Her obsession may not last but it may ..

As for what she needs equipment-wise now, not much really. She definitely needs a hat which has been fitted properly, gloves are a must too. You don’t need to spend a fortune on boots etc at this stage as she won’t be spending all day in them and they will quickly be outgrown. Decathlon do decent short boots, jodhpurs, half chaps etc which don’t cost a fortune and will be fine for now. She doesn’t need a body protector yet and everything else is a nice to have rather than essential.

I hope she carried on enjoying her riding

maxelly · 14/04/2021 12:14

Absolutely it's fair to encourage her, lots and lots of kids never own their own ponies and still get plenty of enjoyment and benefits from riding as a hobby. Some will go on to be horsey adults and buy their own horse or work as professional in the industry and I always think it's really good motivation to not have had it handed to you on a plate as a child but to have had to work.

Please 's advice above is excellent, if she gets really into it so a weekly lesson isn't enough, look for a large riding school which does 'own a pony' days or 'pony weeks' in the school holidays or which offers Pony Club - this is like Scouts or Brownies but with ponies, they do ridden activities and games but are also taught about pony care and stable management, there are 'badges' to be earnt and also often an annual camp. There are branches for children that have their own ponies but also ones for those without, the latter usually attached to larger riding schools so lookout for that when choosing a school.

When she gets a bit older, as Please says, a lot of horsey teens particularly those without their own horse, earn extra riding/horse time by helping out at their riding school doing chores and yard work and helping the younger riders, usually they aren't paid in cash for it but can be given free or discount lessons or just get extra riding in by exercising the newer or naughtier ponies Grin. This process has become a bit of a rite of passage for teens in the horse world, it's so good for them, they learn about the harder more boring side of keeping a horse (endless mucking out, sweeping the yard etc), the value of commitment (the ones that reliably turn up in all weathers and don't complain etc are usually the ones given preference for 'extra' opportunities!), gain some leadership/teaching skills from helping the littler ones, make lots of friends and have a lark etc.

Kit wise you've had some good advice, the only thing I'd buy new is her own hat (once you are sure she's sticking with it), take her to a proper tack shop to get fitted as it's so important for safety and comfort. To be honest the fact the school let her ride in a hat that was too loose or too tight worries me a bit, who fitted her for it? The school should have a range of sizes of hat to hire so everyone should have one which is safe and comfortable (maybe not the exact perfect shape, some hats can pinch a little if you have a odd shaped head Grin), so a bit of discomfort isn't a major worry but letting her ride in a loose one or one so tight it gave her headaches is! Is her instructor a properly qualified instructor as if so they def should be checking that their students are wearing all the proper kit esp a properly fitting hat before they get anywhere near getting on the horse, that's like instructor 101? If the school doesn't take safety seriously I'd be looking to take her somewhere else IMO - a properly regulated BHS or ABRS approved school is what you want...

Otherwise everything can be bought 2nd hand pretty much and there are thriving marketplaces on ebay and facebook marketplace for kids riding gear. Check with her teacher/the school about their 'rules' on body protectors and crops, the school I am based at they don't 'have' to wear body protectors except for jumping and hacking (which will be a way down the line for your DD) so that may or may not be a priority for you, and beginners don't carry crops so again you may want to hold off there. Some second hand kids jodhpur boots, maybe suede chaps, gloves (don't have to be fancy riding ones, cheap woolly 'magic gloves' are just as good) and some jods or riding tights will almost certainly be a good investment though - riding as a hobby is a fruitful source of presents as you'll find, there's a whole world of stuff you can get her!

Sorry for long post, do come back with any further questions, this a friendly and helpful board!

Amielondon23 · 14/04/2021 14:45

Really grateful for all your advice everyone.
I’ve agreed to her have a lesson once a fortnight (all I can afford atm).
I’m going to find our local tack shop and just get a proper fitted hat and some ankle type boots.
If she’s still enjoying it and wants to continue doing it when it’s her birthday in the summer I’ll buy her some jodhpurs and some gloves.

That’s good to hear that horse riding isn’t just for the lucky kids that have ponies.

The horse world is a bit intimidating for someone that has no idea!
It’s been wonderful seeing her do something she enjoys.

I just was worried she’d feel I was letting her down with not being able to provide a pony. I also shallowly don’t want to be judged by the other mums at the stables for not having a pony!

OP posts:
JustPootlingAlong · 14/04/2021 14:56

Absolutely encourage her! I loved having a horsey childhood and still have horses now.

Have a look out for pony club centres near you. That way, your daughter can enjoy pony club as well as earning badges and doing rallies.

A well fitted hat is the most important thing. Jodhpur boots and some chaps are another essential. Don't buy those long rubber boots as they are super uncomfortable and you can't flex your ankle in them. A body protector would be a good idea. There are plenty going cheap second hand as children grow out of them quickly. Just make sure it is up to the current standards and fits properly.

harknesswitch · 14/04/2021 15:09

My dd at 6 was horse mad, I used to pay for lessons (I bought her a hat, body protector etc) and also paid for her to do pony days during school holidays.

She's now 13 and although still has no-weekly lessons, her enthusiasm has wained.

I arranged for her to help out with two local ladies who had horses, in return for mucking out, feeding etc she'd get the odd ride, but it became obvious she would rather be on her phone and out with her mates.

I guess what I'm saying is encourage it , but don't push, buy decent safety kit but it's likely that it'll only ever be a hobby.

Amielondon23 · 14/04/2021 15:39

I certainly wouldn’t push it. This has been completely her choice.
I also would only want it to be a hobby- not sure how it could be anything else.
She is very much free to change her mind although I think she’s caught the pony bug!

OP posts:
harknesswitch · 14/04/2021 16:31

When she's older it might be worth posting on your local fb page to see if any horse owners want any help in return for lessons on how to look after horses. A lot of people also need help exercises so it's a great way to get her riding (you'll need to sort insurances etc)

percheron67 · 14/04/2021 16:54

Her own hat and body protec tor - potential life savers. Decent joddy boots or longer ones. 2 pairs of jods - if one pair gets wet she will need a spare. Don't bother with a stick; there will be plenty around the yard. Gloves for grip and keeping warm in the winter. I am not sure of the situation now but pre covid many yards give extra rides to people who are willing to clean tack and muck out. Almost forgot
always buy a new hat - if someone has fallen their brain bucket could be cracked and not give proper protection.

krustykittens · 14/04/2021 17:07

Don't feel intimidated, OP, there are lots of people in the horse world that were not born to it. I grew up in a council house in inner city London, bought my first horse as an adult when I moved to Ireland and funded my lessons myself as well. My parents did everything they could to discourage me as they were worried about costs and I wish they hadn't. It didn't put me off and if I had volunteered as so many pony-mad kids do, I might have had a great place to go to that bolstered my confidence when I was bullied at school. Find the right yard and it might be the best thing that ever happened to her, even if she never ends up buying her own horse. Riding can teach kids a lot of things as well, such as patience, kindness and empathy. She can still get a lot of riding lessons, camps and volunteering so don't feel bad. Yes, she will probably long for a pony but when she gets older she recognise that you did everything you could to help her pursue her passion. Get her a sub for Pony magazine, it is great for younger kids!

Amielondon23 · 14/04/2021 18:00

Thank you Krustykittens - yes it can be very intimidating. Lots of horse lingo I’m having to learn!
Pony magazine sounds good 👍🏻

OP posts:
Floralnomad · 14/04/2021 22:56

Hat and boots are the essentials at the start really and also a riding school that is a pony club centre or at least offers lots of child friendly activities .

countrygirl99 · 15/04/2021 12:12

Decathlon is good for jods, gloves and sundries. Proper tack shop for the hat though. Facebook selling groups (their will be local horsey ones) are good for random 6yo pleasing stuff like sparkley crops and good second hand jods, warm jackets etc. Invest in warm gear for yourself for winter lessons (very important in my experience)

Feawen · 15/04/2021 13:22

Lots of horsey people love sharing their knowledge and generally talking about horses (some of us too much so!), so don’t worry about asking questions, in real life or here. If someone is snooty then avoid them - there are a few people like that, but most of us aren’t. Shovelling horse poo is a leveller Grin

You don’t need to own a horse to be a horse rider. For now, I’d keep things low key, let your dd have lessons if you can afford them, and see if she keeps up her enthusiasm through winter! She wouldn’t be the first or last person to decide that riding in the rain sucks and she’d rather find an indoor hobby.

When she’s older and more experienced, you could look for a pony for her to share or part loan. This usually involves paying a contribution towards the pony’s keep and helping with care in exchange for riding and time with the pony. Costs are variable but are often less than lessons (though continuing lessons is advisable, maybe less often if cost is a limitation). However, most owners will want a child shared to be accompanied by a capable parent, so you would need to learn something about horses too, which you might or might not be up for!

Six is probably a bit young unless you are prepared to get very hands-on, but in a few years if she is still interested, this could be a good option. I shared for horses for years as an adult and had some great experiences, including riding in competitions. You can get very involved with horses without owning one Smile

Postapocalypticcowgirl · 16/04/2021 07:13

Just wanted to mention that at the moment, proper hat fitting can't go ahead due to the social distancing rules in place for shop staff. You can go to a tack shop and try hats on, and the staff can advise but it won't be quite the same as a proper hat fitting.

Also, make sure any hat you buy is up to scratch in terms of meeting the right safety requirements, or her riding school may not let her wear it. Some tack shops do sell cheap hats for children which don't meet the required standard, so you may get caught out.

Hats must be new, but boots and johds cam be second hand if you like.

I wouldn't bother with a body protector at this stage, unless the riding school insist - I think it will get in the way more than help.

Finally, even if she doesn't stick with it long term, she will get benefits from riding, like improved balance, coordination, confidence etc and it will also help her core strength.

TheFnozwhowasmirage · 16/04/2021 22:07

I'd encourage her too. We have facilities to keep ponies at home,but I still made my two go to riding school for 3 years, before buying a pony,because I knew exactly how much work, commitment and expense is involved. Both girls stuck with it and had their own ponies,(,mostly the ones that no one else wanted to ride,on loan). They started at 4 and are now 15 & 17,still horse obsessed. The experience they've gained has stood them in good stead,both have had weekend jobs on an event yard for a couple of years now,and are always being offered extra work pet/ livestock sitting and helping other people with horses. It has taught them to be responsible, calm, reliable, hard working and done wonders of their confidence.
I bought everything apart from hats and body protectors second hand. £1 magic gloves from Primark are great,Dd2 hated jodhpurs,they give her itchy legs,so she rides in running leggings or riding tights. Aldi occasionally have cheap,good quality riding stuff too.
Good luck and I hope that your daughter continues to enjoy her riding.

chickenfeathers · 16/04/2021 22:54

All good advice - and I echo getting your daughter her own (new and fitted) hat.

As a pony-less but pony-mad child, I lived for my weekly riding lessons. If you are able to do this for your DD, that is absolutely brilliant.

My eldest DD went through a phase of riding / wanting a pony - but then she fell off during a lesson and never wanted to go back again. I had my own horses previously, and I was a bit disappointed, but I did not push her to go back. It just wasn't for her, and the last thing I wanted to do was push her into doing something she really didn't want to do.

For now, enjoy being the mum of a horse mad little girl and just have fun! If she carries on the obsession, I am sure she will end up with her own one day. 😊

wheresmyliveship · 17/04/2021 10:19

I was this child. Parents had no idea what to do but drove me weekly. I had a break after uni (didn’t drive and lessons were expensive back in London) and have just bought my own aged 30. My dad still comes and visits and watches me ride.

MojoMoon · 18/04/2021 18:03

I grew up in London and you could start working on the yard leading ponies in beginners lessons at 8 (you used to earn a pound an hour) and you'd get a free ride at the end of the week in the summer holidays. Was a very mixed group of kids there, rich and poor and most did not own a pony. If you had a pony on working livery - eg the riding school used it for lessons - then it was something like ten quid a month for livery costs. So sometimes there are ways of it being not as pricey as it might be and not all riding schools are the same so don't be afraid to check others out

I'd so advise a subscription to Pony magazine and get down your local library and see what pony books they have. There are thousands of kids books about ponies - you can use her interest in them as a really good tool for encouraging reading.

Floralnomad · 18/04/2021 18:39

@MojoMoon I think things have moved on a bit from then .

MojoMoon · 18/04/2021 22:17

Yes, I'm not imagining it would cost the same now. I am familiar with concept of inflation.

The start age at that yard for working is also 10 now, not 8.

But the point being it still remains possible to be involved with ponies and riding without owning one and without being mega rich. If the OP's daughter is really keen, then the point was to encourage her to see that there are routes to being involved like volunteering at a yard and doing working livery that may not be immediately obvious to someone who has not previously been involved with the horsey world.

But thanks for your intervention

skeggycaggy · 18/04/2021 22:28

My DDs ride twice a week, we won’t ever own a pony for them as I just don’t want the work/responsibility/expense. I also think they get so much from riding at the stables - our teacher is brilliant, they get to do competitions etc with the riding school ponies. Even if they don’t go on into adulthood, it’s an all weather outdoors activity requiring you to be practical, hands on, dirty, dedicated, brave, determined - perfect hobby for kids IMO!

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