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Any thoughts/advice on DD's pony and possible future sale/life? (LONG)

32 replies

Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 13:07

So this is thinking way out in the future, so not going to take any immediate action, I'm just mulling likely scenarios for future of DD's much loved pony. You were all very helpful and I really valued your advice in the past so am interested in thoughts on this at the moment mild and non-urgent quandary....

We got her a year ago as an almost 6 yr old 13hh and she has been AMAZING. Much loved, such fun, fabulous personality, and has brought on DD's riding so much. They have been out having fun showjumping and cross country and really just messing about together, trail riding, etc.

DD will grow out of her in maximum 2 yrs 🙁.

One thing that has popped up, although not in a big way, is that she was very much unschooled and unbalanced when we got her (which we knew), and we didn't have her vetted (a decision I don't regret, as she cost us not very much at all and she has been the best decision ever). The lack of balance is only apparent in the canter, and she jumps from one leg to the other a lot. She prefers the left leg and if forced onto the right leg on the bend, switches back as soon as she can.

DD's jumping coach has mentioned, based on quite a testing pole exercise that they were doing, she thinks there might be something very minor in her right hind, that makes some things slightly difficult for her. She said 'I would be honest if I thought it was causing any pain, but I absolutely don't, she copes with it in the best way, it just means she has a preference for one leg over the other'. We are working on building up her hindquarters and working into an outline (new to her and to DD) to see if it rectifies it, but there might just be a tiny niggle under there somewhere that isn't muscle.

So....I guess my thoughts are...do I get a vet to look at her anyway, potentially open a can of worms and spend ages and a fortune on diagnostics and potentially end up with no answers, for a question I don't even know if we need to ask?

I suppose what I am thinking is that at some point we will need to pass her on to a new home. Ideally this would be in the riding club or pony club etc. Because of everything she has done already competition wise, she is theoretically already worth more than we would have expected, and will be older and less daft by the time we pass her on, so will be a good second pony/PC/all rounder. However, I assume this is the kind of thing that sale vetting will pick up, and so will it affect the kind of home she might go to. I assume there is a threshold above which you have to get vetting anyway for insurance?

We just want to do the right thing for her, now and in the future, so I guess I'm wondering....how much of a worry would this kind of thing be for a family looking for a PC type? Mostly in practice it means she can't progress in dressage, but of course in the future it might end up causing pain and be a bigger problem. She will still only be maximum 9 when we are looking for a new home for her, so assuming status quo maintains, she will have so much to give. She really is so fun and willing and such a personality.

Ugh...I don't even know what I'm asking....do you think we should be trying to identify and resolve a potential problem (that might not even exist) now, and have all those investigations on her record, or do we just wait and see? Proactivity isn't always a good thing in these cases? I don't know!

I suppose possible scenarios are:

  • do nothing, assume we might be limited in options for a new home for her due to likely issue with vetting
  • line up a non-riding home for her (pedigree means her old owners/breeder would have her back for breeding), although she thrives on having a job to do
  • investigate possible issue now, but possibly end up no wiser
  • investigate and fix any issue, and open up more potential homes to her when we are ready for her to move on

To be clear, if this was my horse and there was no growing child to think about, we would just keep her and have fun and love her and look after her forever, but kids grow, and the pony is young, and so I know one of the above scenarios is going to happen. I just don't know whether to pre-empt it or not.

As you can probably see....over-thinking is something I excel at, and of course nobody can know if there is a problem until we look for it....so I guess my question is, would you look for it?
OP posts:
Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 13:10

OMG even for me, and even with my warning, that was LONG!

Sorry, and thank you for anybody that does actually get to the end of it and comment 😊.

OP posts:
RandomMess · 10/05/2022 13:12

I'm not a horse person but your love for DPony shines through but she is too young to retire and become the most expensive pet ever.

Blinkingbatshit · 10/05/2022 13:22

Ok, I’m also not your target audience (too little experience) but do have ponies (for those that panic and think previously non horsey parents should never go there calm yourselves - ponies live at a yard up the road so we have experts on hand 24/7!)….BUT no, if it was me I’d leave it for the time being. If your daughter is still having success on her and you’re known at pony club then your track record may suffice without a vetting. If you’re reasonable on price then I can’t see why the right home can’t be sought… Also, have you had a chiropractor / physio take a look?

Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 13:29

Gosh, that was 2 fast replies!

@RandomMess I'm so happy you said that, we are all quite literally besotted, even DH who says we will just keep her forever if we need to, even though actually it probably isn't the right thing for her.

@Blinkingbatshit that is a really useful perspective, thank you. I think we would be honest with anybody looking to buy through RC etc. ...look there might be this thing, there might not, she has a lot of fun doing everything, she just won't ever be a dressage star, but she's simply amazing in every other way. I mean....I would buy her again tomorrow knowing all I already know, and would probably pay more than I did. I just don't want to sort of make her uninsurable by going looking for something that might not even be a thing.

OP posts:
Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 13:30

Good point about physio, that was another avenue I was thinking we could try anyway, as never a bad thing to do that.

OP posts:
Devotedcatslave · 10/05/2022 13:51

I would certainly agree getting a physio to take a look would be a good idea. Depending on what comes out of that I would seriously consider investigating further. Not because of possible sales issues, but for the ponies welfare. If there is something niggling, and you don't know what, you can't know if working her is making it worse, or causing pain. Some horses will show pain easily, some will work until they really can't.

She sounds brilliant, so surely the last thing you want is to wait until she bucks your DD off one day because it becomes more painful, or breaks down. At least once you have the full picture you likely will be able to manage whatever it is, and hopefully prevent it getting worse. You've said you will be honest when the time comes to sell her on, so why not find out what you are dealing with now?

Lastqueenofscotland2 · 10/05/2022 13:52

Devotedcatslave · 10/05/2022 13:51

I would certainly agree getting a physio to take a look would be a good idea. Depending on what comes out of that I would seriously consider investigating further. Not because of possible sales issues, but for the ponies welfare. If there is something niggling, and you don't know what, you can't know if working her is making it worse, or causing pain. Some horses will show pain easily, some will work until they really can't.

She sounds brilliant, so surely the last thing you want is to wait until she bucks your DD off one day because it becomes more painful, or breaks down. At least once you have the full picture you likely will be able to manage whatever it is, and hopefully prevent it getting worse. You've said you will be honest when the time comes to sell her on, so why not find out what you are dealing with now?

Essentially I came on to say this

thelittlestrhino · 10/05/2022 13:52

Is she insured? Has the issue ever been mentioned to a vet?

Horses are stoic, they have evolved to NOT show they are weaker and therefore an easy target for predators. The fact that she is constantly swapping leads to be more comfortable suggests that there IS some discomfort. It sounds like the unsoundness (lameness) may already be significant enough for a dressage judge to notice? This may be mild, but I’ve known plenty of horses with what turned out with severe injuries still working away.

Personally I would not be working an unsound horse unless I had a definite diagnosis on what the problem was and assurances that it wasn’t degenerative. Easy to say though as I’ve always insured.

Obviously you could choose not to disclose to potential buyers, hope they don’t notice or have a vetting done. Plenty of ponies change hands that way. As you don’t know the cause of the unsoundness then I’d feel really guilty passing on a pony with a potentially degenerative condition. I’d also be very wary of breeding from an animal who, at a young age, has undiagnosed issues which could potentially have a genetic component, or worsen for the mare with the stress of pregnancy and foaling.

If you’re not going to go down the diagnostic route then could you consider loaning? I wouldn’t usually recommend but it’s a way of retaining ownership and being able to intervene if things get worse. A lot of elderly, not-quite-sound, PPID or otherwise special care ponies can rotate around a few local homes where they can still be kept active in a way that is appropriate for them.

Pony sounds fab!

gunnersgold · 10/05/2022 13:54

No advice but I could never give up my childhood pony so kept her til the end of her life . She was 37!!

Could you loan her / lease her instead is selling her ? You could get money that way as good ponies are hard to find !

Ariela · 10/05/2022 13:55

As well as physio, I'd get her saddle checked if you've not for a while and she's got fitter with more ridden work. Likewise get your farrier to have a look - could be an imbalance in her feet which can be rectified with good trimming, a decent farrier is usually able to pinpoint if it's a foot, leg or higher issue.
With regard to when your daughter has outgrown, if said pony is well known in your pony club as being a good confidence giver on/off lead rein and safe, that will win hearts within your pony club. So ensure she's out and about regularly doing great things with your daughter, and I'm sure your pony's next home will line itself up.

OhMrDarcy · 10/05/2022 13:56

Read most of the OP and just wanted to say get a physio out to take a look at her asap. My physio does wonders, and it's like an MOT for the horse. Costs £65 for first appointment, follow ups £60 which might be in 4-6 months' time.

XelaM · 10/05/2022 14:01

Definitely investigate. The poor pony might be in pain and just masking it very well. (I'm not a horse expert at all, but my daughter has a pony). Not knowing doesn't make the problem go away.

thelittlestrhino · 10/05/2022 14:15

Physiotherapists are very useful, but can legally only work with a horse with vet approval and they can’t make diagnoses. If you tell the vet about the problem they will need to see the horse to assess it first, and any potential time to make an insurance claim will begin. Even if no claim is made then it is likely the whole leg (at the very least) will be excluded from any future insurance policies, even under new ownership.

Hind issues which are only apparent at a canter can often be ‘higher up’ i.e. stifle or SI. Both can be tricky to diagnose. Good luck

Pleasedontdothat · 10/05/2022 14:27

I think you need to get a vet to see her - not a physio (any registered physio shouldn’t be treating a horse without vet say so anyway).

Horses are incredibly good at hiding pain/discomfort so the fact that you can see there’s a problem means that it could actually be much more severe than you think. Equally it could be a mechanical lameness which isn’t causing pain but will mean that she’d find it harder to do some things.

She sounds like a lovely pony and as her owners you owe it to her to ensure she’s not in any pain. Why do you think a vet wouldn’t be able to diagnose what’s wrong with her? Yes sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the cause of very subtle lameness but what your pony’s doing isn’t that subtle…

As for what to do once she’s outgrown, the only way of ensuring her future is not to sell her I’m afraid. Once you’re sure she’s comfortable and happy being ridden (after a vet has seen her), then she’s the type of pony that would have a queue of pony club parents desperate to loan her. At our pony club there were ponies who spent 2-3 years at a time on loan to different families, teaching their kids the ropes before going onto the next family. Obviously you wouldn’t have any money from selling her, but you wouldn’t be responsible for her livery costs etc and you’d be in control of what happens to her - this is really important for ponies with potential physical problems especially if they’re also a ‘nice person’ as they could easily be bute’d up and passed on from dealer to dealer. And to be honest, the amount of money you’d get from a not completely sound pony wouldn’t be worth the sleepless nights for me.

Imo it’s not ethical to send a pony with a conformational fault/medical problem back to the breeder to be bred from.

If it turns out that she can’t be ridden then you have a duty to ensure her future - that might be finding her a place at a retirement livery as long as she’s field sound (this doesn’t cost a huge amount ~£150 a month where we are in the south east), or see if anyone in pony club/someone known to your instructor is looking for a companion loan pony. Or if she’s not field sound then you would need to be brave and make the decision to PTS - there are much worse outcomes for a much-loved pony. What you can’t do - and keep a clear conscience - is pass on the problem to someone else.

Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 14:33

Really useful thoughts everybody thank you. I think we will start with physio and see what we discover and take it from there.

She is insured, and I'm certainly not trying to avoid having a vet look at her. It's just a very vague thing, I've asked a lot of the people who see her move regularly (including a number of coaches who compete at a high level and have a lot of experience buying and selling and training horses) if they think she is sound and all have said yes, just not yet very balanced (but improving all the time and better when in an outline). That's apart from this one who said she doesn't think she's lame, she just wonders if there could be something, but she wouldn't get it looked at. I only mentioned dressage because it means that she doesn't consistently stay on the right leg due to this preference for the left. On the face of it that's not uncommon though is it, with inexperienced horses. Although D and pony clearly 'click' when showjumping, they regularly place highly in ridden classes/M&M etc. and none of the judges, many of whom we know, have mentioned a thing. Several at first ridden level have complimented her paces and in the one or two classes she has cantered in half the kids have their ponies on the wrong leg anyway.

Sorry, not trying to argue or avoid doing anything, I guess more explain why we've not done anything up to now and why we're mulling a bit...but you're right, if there is a problem it isn't going to go away on its own, so we'll start with physio and see where we go from there.

OP posts:
Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 14:41

OK, more answers since I started typing my mammoth reply....so still mulling! I didn't know you couldn't get physio without a vet first, so I will reconsider.

We certainly aren't looking to offload a 'problem', the opposite in fact. We're just trying to consider options now and further along the line, and if this means not ever selling, then so be it.

She would hate early retirement though....she is very demonstrable and tells us clearly what she likes and what she doesn't like doing. She obviously loves to jump, loves games, hates not being allowed to do something other ponies are doing, she loves being out and about....when people say a pony 'loads itself' this one really does, she quite clearly told me she wanted to go somewhere last week when we had no plans at all, we just had the trailer out for cleaning.

OP posts:
Deliaskis · 10/05/2022 15:03

Actually though, quite amusing that the range of replies here covers everything that goes through my mind....from do nothing at all, to retirement and she might need to be PTS if not even field sound. I think we're a long way from that at the moment, but really useful perspectives so thank you.

OP posts:
Pleasedontdothat · 10/05/2022 16:07

Lots of people will say ‘do nothing’ but if you go onto the average livery yard a good proportion of horses will be lame - most owners and quite a few instructors could only spot a lame horse if it’s literally on three legs, let alone recognise a potential problem under saddle. 🤷‍♀️

Floralnomad · 11/05/2022 00:38

I would have a vet look at her but also in the longer term you could easily find her a loan home if she is a safe and successful pony .

CrotchetyQuaver · 11/05/2022 01:00

I have an equine chiropractor come out to mine a couple of times a year usually, never discussed it with the vet at all!
It does sound the sort of thing that a chiropractic session and careful management for a few days afterwards might well sort out. The other thing that might be worth checking out is getting a competent adult rider on and seeing what they think, it's possible your daughter may be weaker on one side and need to balance herself up.

HighlandCowbag · 11/05/2022 07:03

I would get a chiropractor and saddle fitter out and also the dentist. My little mare is one sided, most ponies are, like us they have a weaker side.

For mine I have had chiropractor out who noticed without being told she was a lot stronger through her right side.

The dentist who removed a couple of sharp hooks and said that they would have been causing discomfort when asked to work in a contact, which can cause tension throughout the body.

Saddle reflocked and refitted. As the flocking had settled down it was slightly flatter on one side.

Schooling exercises we do out hacking. Mainly pushing her off her right shoulder with lots of left leg, turn on the forehand, leg yeild etc.

It might be that your dd isn't physically strong enough yet to push her over so an instructor that can pop on will help, especially if you are working on getting her into an outline. It's not just a case of making it look nicer it's about getting the pony to use her body more effectively which is difficult and quite physically demanding for the rider as well.

Once you have done all that and got her as far as you can, which will probably take a few months, if she is still wonky then maybe have her assessed by the vet.

PutinIsAWarCriminal · 11/05/2022 07:15

Agree with pp: chiropractor, farrier and saddler would be my first stop. Once the experts have had a look, lots of ground work / dressage practice to strengthen and even her out. Dressage is the basics and supports everything else, you don't have to compete, but I always thought training and schooling should incorporate 50% dressage for strengthening and balance.
An option for when your dd does grow out of your pony is to retrain her for carriage driving, its fantastic fun.

Astrabees · 11/05/2022 12:29

I wonder if you are over thinking this. it sounds like a minor problem but I think you should get the vet out just to check the pony over. I was going to say "a pony is only human" but what I mean is that even athletes have one side better than the other, and the rest of us find in, say , yoga, one side of the body is stronger or more flexible,so I don't see why a horse should be any different. She is still very young and to be performing at this level must have made a lot of progress quite quickly, maybe it is just a bit too much for her?

Sprig1 · 11/05/2022 13:00

If the pony was mine I would be booking the vet to look at it. Chances are there is something going on and if you deal with it now you have a good chance of being able to fix it before it gets worse.

CountryCob · 11/05/2022 19:39

I knew a horse that sounds similar and by 12 it was found that she had a spinal issue in the neck so it is worth seeing what is going on. However sadly a vet might not be able to explain everything you can try. If she isn’t insured get her insured first but I didn’t say that…..

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