Cath Henshall from Hillydale Ponies has distilled many years of experience buying and selling kids’ ponies into some simple tips. 1 the suitability of the pony.
Sit down with your child and a more experienced helper if you are new to horses and work out what you need in a pony.
Prioritise your list and consider carefully: Develop a checklist of criteria against which to assess Good ponies for learner kids have the following characteristics: • • When they react to something they have a smaller reaction ie.
A little start instead of a big spook or shy.
When they see something new they either don’t care, or have a bit of a look, maybe snort, and then carry on as normal.
They tolerate a medium amount of pressure – especially around their middle, where the girth and rider’s legs go, so they won’t leap into the air if the child grips with their legs or gets a bit nervous. What level of riding is your child at? (for example can they walk/ trot only or are they balanced enough to canter and jump).
Your child needs a pony he or she can ride to their current level without feeling nervous.
What is the pony going to be used for? As a rule it is better when the pony knows more about these things than the rider.
Can it be caught, brushed, saddle and bridled by children? Does it load onto floats without issues? Can it be ridden out on its own? How does it react to new environments, scary or unusual things? What does it do if the rider gets unbalanced? Has it ever kicked or bitten, especially a child? Does it go into canter without pig-rooting? What are some of the “naughty” things it has done in the past? What kind of bit is it ridden in? What is its health history, and has it ever foundered? This by no means is an exhaustive list, and what you include and the weighting you put on it will depend on your individual situation.
Take the time to develop the list and then ask the seller your questions so you can weigh up whether or not the pony is likely to meet your needs, even before you go out to see it.
Above all… use this list! It will help you buy with your head and not your heart.
No matter how rational you might be, buying a horse involves the emotions, so test your emotions against your checklist, and don’t start to jettison your priorities in order to justify buying something that really isn’t suitable.
Use your checklist and take the time to think through the issues before agreeing to buy the pony. • How to assess reactivity.
Reactivity may seem like a difficult thing to assess, but it is possible to get a good idea by noting how much the horse or pony reacts in situations such as: • • • • When the kids make sudden movements near it, how does the pony respond? If it’s a windy day, is it more alert, more jumpy? Does it get anxious, tense or jumpy while it is being saddled? When it is ridden for you, can the owner ride it at all three paces on a loose rein? If they drop the reins does it stay at the same speed? Ask the owner what it does when it sees something it is scared of? Is it a big shy, or little prop? Does it cope wit the rider waving their arms around while being ridden, or falling onto its neck – what does it do? When you walk up to it, does it immediately tense up, raise its head, and look like it would run away if it wasn’t being held? Does it need to be lunged before the kids can ride it? This should be a serious warning sign – horses should not need to be lunged before being ridden unless they specifically need to be warmed up for a health reason. • • • 2 • Reactivity.
This is probably the most important thing to consider when purchasing a horse or pony. Although we all know that horses are prey animals that have evolved to run first and think later, individual horses and ponies vary hugely in how much they react to their environment, how neophobic (scared of new things) they are, and how much pressure they can tolerate before doing something about it.
Horses and ponies can be trained and re-trained, but the sensitive, reactive types will never make a beginner’s ride.
The truth is that not all horses are suitable for all people or all the uses we may put them to.
Read more about Pony K : What is the pony going to be used for As….: