Go for suitablilty. Small horses stay useful longer than small ponies.
Go for suitablilty. Small horses stay useful longer than small ponies.
Add me to the list. A good horse is worth their weight in gold.
I grew up riding horses, and my daughter learned how to ride on my Hano. I don't think it's necessary to learn on a pony, but it is necessary to have a pony on the farm for their evil cuteness factor. :D
My DD showed in lead line on some VERY fancy large ponies (sold on to show horse jobs)...when she went off leadline (at home and shows) she went straight to a 15.2+ Medal/Maclay show hunter QH!! It was her choice and I agreed. The QH - a major league show horse I had taken in trade was ALL show horse until I put my 6 year old DD on him. Then he was a baby sitter deluxe!! She was still winning on him as she aged out of the Jr.s and he lived to 31 years of age. I always preferred a sane horse to a pony - most of those are too smart for their own good. I think 16.2 is a bit of a stretch for a small child, but as others have said - the disposition of a saint makes up for the cuteness factor!!
My kids learned on ponies at a local riding stable- they got to pick the pony or miniature horse they wanted for the lesson out of the pony pen. Sometimes the instructor would say "no, you really don't want that one." They loved it. They could groom and saddle up because the pony was short and they learned patience and persistence as well as how to sit a very fast trot...sometimes the lessons were hilarious as the kids attempted to make the pony go. The riding stable has lots of new kids coming in so the ponies are used. I think the ponies taught them a lot. They started on ancient saintly ponies and moved on to some naughtier ones.
ETA- just saw this was hunter/jumper. This was just beginning riding/camps on ponies.
I agree with everyone who says that the temperament matters more than the size. That said, I think ponies have real advantages for small children, and there are lots of sweet, docile ponies out there. My first pony was about 12.2 and was an absolute saint. Nothing rattled her, and she was as safe for a beginner as was possible. A docile pony is easier for a child to groom and handle than a larger animal.
I have two school ponies. A 23 year old 12.3 section B welsh hunter pony who has seen and done it all, and a 14.2 hand stout Haflinger x warmbloods cross.
I LOVE them both as schooleies for all of reasons already mentioned in posts above:
Cheaper to house
And I think it is much better to have a small child be able to learn to do all of the grooming, hoof picking and tacking up with a size appropriate pony.
I do not want to produce only riders, but horse girls with horsemanship skills. I think that builds a better and longer lasting horse relationship. Little kids can develop pride in doing things all by themselves...which builds habits that will serve them well in other areas of their lives. A little kid with a big horse can't do a lot of the grooming or tacking, or even get a halter on.
You just have to really look hard to find the right ponies, and tune them up when needed. I looked at about fifteen ponies before I found my little guy, Snoopy. I have several four and five year old students who do 1/2 hour lessons him and He also gives lessons to some ten and thirteen year olds. Learning correct aids on a well trained horse is more important than a school horse being a certain perfect size, and being undermounted in all respects is safer for a beginner than being overmounted the least bit.
One small saintly pony opens up a market niche for the very young riders who will stick around and graduate up the program.
I started riding at 3.5 on a saint of an Appaloosa mare named Solee. She was A Lady Of A Certain Age and, although to me she was ENORMOUS, probably was only about 15.2. I needed assistance to mount and needed a ladder to groom anything other than her legs, but although always supervised, she was trustworthy to be handled by a child.
On the other hand, when she got to be of age to ride, my kid sister was intimidated by Solee's size and felt much more comfortable handling the 40-year-old 13-hand POA.
The most important thing is that the animals in your program must be absolute saints. I think it does make sense to have some that are smaller and some that are larger. But each and every one of them needs to walk on water. In my experience, many small ponies were either born without that innate capacity, or it was not encouraged in them, whereas the mediums and larges being ridden (and somersaulted off of, and ski'd off the back of...) by older riders who had a clue about how to correct bad behavior tended to be much more resigned to the stupid things campers do to/with ponies. And before someone slams me for saying the word "stupid" and "campers" in the same sentence, where do you think I learned to somersault off the back of a horse? ;) Bless Dusty for not kicking me in the head!
When I learned to ride, oh goodness, 30 years ago, I learned on smalls and mediums at a lesson mill type place. Of all the ponies there, only a few could be considered saintly. Most of them had quite a few tricks up their sleeves that kept them from being trustworthy for beginners or timid riders. I rode with a bunch of barn rats who were pretty gutsy and it wasn't long before I was ready to help keep those bratty ponies in line, too. But that was the culture. We enjoyed testing our boundaries.
I have been watching the kids coming through my current barn's lesson program. For these kids riding is a once a week activity between dance and soccer. It is not a lifestyle for them. They just don't spend enough time in the tack to gain enough confidence to deal with pony shenanigans and get scared easily. The smalls and mediums sit pretty idle because they are too small for the larger riders, too quick for the smaller young ones to learn to post on, and a bit to devious for timid or just starting out riders. The tried and true teachers are 16.2-16.3. They are absolute saints who teach the tiny tots from lead line up to their first cross rails.
As much as I absolutely adore ponies, if I were putting a lesson string together, it would probably consist of a bunch of saintly honies. Their size is versatile, they are easier to keep tuned up, and (hopefully) cost less to keep and maintain than a larger horse. If you can find smaller saintly ponies, good for you!
OP - FWIW, I don't know that the question here is whether experienced riders started on horses or ponies ... it's about starting a summer camp (i.e. a business)
As someone else has said, you want to have a stable of schoolies that can accomodate your perspective clients. If you are hoping to attract starting kids, realize that most parents who are just getting their young DD into riding are NOT going to be cool with their child riding a 15.2 horse. Further, you want them to develop horsemanship skills (i.e. grooming, etc.) this is going to be infinitely easier on a suitably sized mount.
On the other hand, if you are hoping to develop a school that will ultimately produce top knotch riders who may go on to compete on the A/AA circuit, then you are probably better off to go with a horse that they can grow on.
Ultimately, IMO, I would say a mid-size pony and a large pony/small horse should do the trick, provided that both are sound, uncomplicated and have a suitable temperment. Remember, this is a day camp. These students won't have the time it takes to work out "why the wrong lead" or "gate sourness".
I haven't read through this thread, so if it's already been said just ignore it.
Kids are so small and horses so big, they can only learn a certain, but important skill set on horses, but ponies .... they offer a very different, but lifelong FOUNDATION in being able to ride out tricky moves. On ponies, if kids (with helmets on) get tossed, stepped on, thrown into a wall the momentum is so much smaller that the likelyhood of serious injuries is minimal.
VERY IMPORTANT that difference.
I can't tell you how to convince someone that children need to start on ponies, because I completely disagree. :)
Add me to the list of people who didn't ride ponies as a child. The only time I really rode ponies was when they were being naughty and needed to be schooled.
Why does everyone seem to think ponies are evil? Yes, there are tricky/nasty ponies. There are an equal number of tricky horses, although those can be ridden by older/more experienced riders. Neither tricky horses or ponies are suitable for lessons. But most of the ponies I've been have been varying degrees of normal---> saintly, same as horses. Smalls are a little harder to learn to post on, but otherwise, size isn't terribly important. Saints come in every size.
Thank you all so much for your help. I wanted to look in to large ponies so that the 12 year old wouldn't outgrow it and the 8 year old wouldn't be intimidated. That's something I forgot to mention..the youngest is slightly afraid of horses and falling.
I started on horses as well, but when the bucked, I couldn't stay on. Had many incidents of crashing into a jump or just going fly onto the fence.
I'm not anti pony by any means. But a kid can learn to ride on a horse just as well as they can learn to ride on a pony and the idea that a 15hh horse (by all rights, a hony) is unsuitable but a large pony is just seems terribly silly.
Just my two cents.
I started on a 15.2 horse, loved it. Horses are so much easier to learn on then ponies, they often are less cheeky and don't try as many tricks, they have a a longer slower stride then the short choppy pony one. My ideal height for beggining would be 14.2-15.1
My 8-year-old son started to learn to ride last summer. The 11 hand grade POA mare he rides is an absolute saint. She doesn't put a foot out of place and will happily walk around the arena all day if that's what he wants to do. She never goes faster than what he asks. He feels safe on her and loves her. All ponies are not evil!
I'm 5'1'' as a 21 year old...you can imagine how short I was as an 11 year old. I was a tiny string bean thing who had to choose between leasing a medium pony and a 16.1h tb. Both were bombproof schoolies and I was encouraged to go for the size appropriate pony. BUT, while the pony wasn't fast by any means, the short stride made me feel like I was always going too fast. And because the pony was smaller, even a 2ft vertical felt big and the jump was harder to stay with.
I went with the 16.1h TB whose big stride made me feel like I gliding around the ring and whose jump never really needed to take four feet off of the ground.
By the way...when I outgrew him THEN I was confident enough/deemed good enough to handle a pony. My first fall was showing a pony for the first time, whoops. If a horse is going to keep you in the tack, it doesn't matter that a pony is closer to the ground!
I started riding at age 10 and I have virtually never ridden a pony in my life. Nearly all the school horses wer just that, horses.