The author looks at things to consider when breeding, training and showing a pony for sale.
When most people think of breeding, their first thought is “stallion,” but most breeders eventually find this to be incorrect. The best first word is probably “mare.”
Most outstanding breeding programs are based on outstanding broodmares. Mares must have accomplishments making them worthy of becoming a broodmare—performance, pedigree, movement, talent and temperament are equally important. Mares with a lack of talent, or any other significant vices, should not be bred. If you’re a longtime breeder, always try to improve the quality of your mares. This will improve the product you wish to sell: your foals.
The second most important word may be “stallion.” Always try to find a great sire for breeding your mare. Try to match, and improve, every aspect of your mare, especially weaknesses. Among the greatest considerations is size! Try to get it right. Remember—great stallions have a profound positive influence on most mares. Bad stallions almost always downgrade the mares they cover. Obviously, stallion selection is extremely important.
Time For A Plan
Assume you have raised a nice foal. Now what? You could sell this offspring as a weanling or move forward with further training and expense. Welcome to the real world! You just realized you have made a huge mistake. Through the broodmare and stallion selections and the arrival of your foal, no mention has been made of having, or making, a plan for training, showing or selling this young pony. You now have more than a year’s expense in this project. It’s time for a plan!
Obviously, you have to evaluate the true quality of your foal. Is it the winner in a foal class or next year as a yearling? Does it have futurity of Devon (Pa.) potential, or is it just another nice young pony? Worse yet, is it just plain ugly? You need an expert opinion. Such opinions are hard to find. Good luck.
Exposure And Training
Your evaluation is complete. Time to choose the next step. Showing in hand is a high reward, high expense alternative, but it will provide great exposure for your pony and program. A successful show record should lead to the sale of your pony at a younger age and higher price. You will probably need professional help, which can be expensive.
The next best alternative is raising a nice young pony with regular handling and exceptional care. You should be able to develop marketing plans based on good presentation at your farm and reasonable advertising. Professional help is also available at this level.
Now your pony is 2, or older, and it’s training time. This is where many breeders lose all sense of reason, and the process often ends in disaster!
The early education of your pony will be the basis for success the rest of its life. Remember: Ponies are eventually to be ridden by children. Cautiously select a trainer who understands and enjoys children and ponies. Be sure you, your trainer and rider understand the expectations of ponies showing at the highest level at today’s horse shows. Young ponies must be given a great early education to help them attain those exacting standards.
When your pony is at least in the fall of his or her 2-year-old year, it should be green broken to walk, trot and canter in the ring and quietly walk around the grounds of the barn or farm in company. This training should be as pleasant and positive as possible.
Training the 3-year-old begins to get serious and technical. Are your trainer and rider up to the task? Let’s hope so, as problems are lurking if they aren’t.
Continue the education on the flat, as it’s always critical. Present the small jumps. Only when you are absolutely sure the foundation on the flat is complete should you introduce those dreaded words “lead change.” Surely more ponies have been ruined trying to learn their “leads” than for all other reasons combined. Please understand there are only two kinds of ponies: ponies who do their lead changes and ponies who don’t. One is priceless, the other nearly worthless. At the top of the market you will be rewarded for ponies who are willing to do their lead changes and severely penalized for those who do not.
Your young pony now walks, trots, canters, jumps the small course and does the lead changes. With luck it has been sold for a handsome profit and been champion for the new owners. I wish you and all your ponies continued success.
Richard Taylor owns and operates Venture Stable in Montpelier Station, Va., with his wife Patsy and daughter Drew. Venture Stable is a full service hunter pony operation standing four stallions and offering a complete training and sales agency.