I have to hop on the no pony bandwagon. My daughter started riding at 2.5 and it was on a small horse from a friends school. The horse was super trustworthy and had been there and done that thousands of times. That is the type of horse that you need IMO. When my daughter moved to ponies at age 5 it was a long search to find a pony that wasn't a saucy little devil. That having been said we have a pony now that is a saint, so they are out there!
As a general rule I think that ponies will often try to take advantaged of the little ones, plus the short stride makes the trot and canter seem so much faster. If you are looking for something for a camp with beginners I would stick to the smaller horses. I know that at our barn's camp the kids can't handle the small pony and tend to struggle to keep him under control. He isn't a bad boy, just aware of the lack of experience and willing to take advantage.
i don't have time or interest to read all these posts. Small children should 9 times out of 10 be started on size appropriate mounts. Make what you do size approprite.
The reasons ponies have a bad rap? Because they are only handled by kids. Ponies like horses need a good training start in life. And they continue throughout their lives to need adults around. Horses are not puppies and kitties.Imagine a OTTB that was then only handled by children. It would be a disaster. Ponies are just like horses. Good training is good training.
One more thing op. Well really a question. I've been helping a friend look for a med and large pony as well as small horses. What I have found to find a good, kid safe easy pony the price is not cheap. Seen some in the 5 to 6k range and either they are dead sided, to leg, spur and crops or they have a crow hop in them. The really good ones are over 10k in my area, not sure about your area. But, the small horses that are great run in the 2 to 5k range and are much easier. So I guess the question is, does the person in question have the funds to purchase really easy to ride ponies? Are you looking at something already jumping with changes or can you put that on them?
Honestly, I'm of the start on a solid HORSE first then go to the pony. Timing the up/down on a horse is much easier than a pony. Actual jumping? If you can find a VERY trustworthy soul of a pony then have at it. I started on a 15hh appaloosa and didn't even get to the ponies until much later and that was only because I was short enough and strong enough to make them behave for their poor owners. I still wouldn't wish a shetland on anyone I loved and though DD currently rides a pony she started on a 16hh perch/tb cross that was worth her weight in gold. If you really really want a lesson pony and don't want to pay through the nose for one buy it young and teach it yourself. Most lesson programs won't even part with their ponies as is the case with DD's. He's in his 20s and has tude to spare but he's never been out of the ribbons and there has been many many offers for him. (Including mine).
Size of mount is not my first consideration. I go for safe and somewhat easy, so that is often old geezer horses that generally are worth their weight in gold. I put together a group purchase for another barn and their criteria was 1) nothing younger than 15, 2) able to W/T/C great if it can jump a little 3)pass a vet check OK for its age and intended use 4) any size
I bought 8 horses for them and only 1 ended up being a pony. This barn does a ton of pee wee riders.
Don't getstuck on the idea that every cute little kid NEEDS to start on a pony. They need to start on something safe that builds their skills and confidence
It sounds to me like you are looking for something that can junp and have changes (12 yr old), and as you said, at local shows the judges have a dislike for horses in leadline.
OP, if you start a thread like this, you will get mainly personal opinions, and 15% of reasons. I don't believe you were asking for if people started on horse. I've seen a young girl ride a so called "packer" horse, followed by that saint galloping off, shes got no control over him, and the rest is injury. Your average aa pony rider starts in childrens at 13 (not a talented BNR). Espically the eight year old, ponies have an easier control range, and it's easier to build a relationship with them.
I am confused. Are you looking for horses/ponies for a commercial summer camp? Or for two specific friends/relatives?
I am another one in the camp that, if the object is learming to ride as opposed to showing as soon as possible, school horses, rather than ponies, are perfectly acceptable.
We started riding when I was 6 and my sister was 4, on school horses. My sister went on to show ponies when she was about 11 or 12, but I basically stayed with horses (with a few exceptions).
We learned to groom and tack up the horses. We were never intimidated by the school horses.
I'm an American, living in Australia. Starting small children on horses is not the preferred method here. Ponies are really popular and almost everyone I know started on a pony. I cannot think of one my my daughter's friends who didn't start on a pony.
But in saying that, we have always owned our horses. And our friends are all Pony Clubbers and Eventers who also own their own. Maybe if you are starting at a riding school and only riding once a week, it doesn't matter.
Here, a little kid would start off on a little pony, progressing onto a larger pony and then onto a horse. Ponies tend to get passed down through families or Pony Clubs. Are they all brilliant? Nope. But most of them will tolerate a kid bouncing along, a pony makes tacking up easier for a child as well as grooming. A pony is closer to the ground when the inevitable fall happens.
We had an American family turn up at our Pony Club a few years ago. Lovely family, daughter had been taking riding lessons in the States before they were posted here. They had the opportunity while here to buy her a horse and wanted something at least 16 hands. People were shocked by that attitude! LOL
My youngest is now 17. She started on an 11.2 Welsh A. Brilliant pony, brilliant jumper. Moved to 13 hand pony (she was difficult) and then to a 14.1 schoolmaster. When he died, she went onto her sister's 15.2 hand OTTB. That was interesting . . . sort of like going from a push bike to a Farrari. She is still riding that one but now also has a 16.2 young horse and rides a 17 hand Warmblood. All of her friends are now on the big horses, too . . . and the moms miss the pony days!
I love going to Pony Club stuff and ODEs and watching the little kids on ponies. SOOOOO cute!
Totally agree. Child mounts should be both SIZE and EXPERIENCE level appropriate. I can't tell you how many times I hear "new pony parents" want to buy something that the kid "will grow into" or "they can learn together" and then end up buying a young green medium/large pony for their timid 6 year old rider. That's the quickest way to discourage a kid from riding.
Originally Posted by chunky munky
This is the biggest part of the problem. Good, as in well-behaved, well-broke, size and experience appropriate ponies for small children/beginners are not cheap. Parents can't wrap their heads around paying $5K for a 25+ year old small "packer" that never puts down a wrong foot but might need a half gram of bute once in a while.
Originally Posted by rabicon
Our first pony was a 12h, 30 year old SAINT with one foot in the grave. He taught my oldest daughter, who was 3 at the time, how to walk, stop, steer, trot, post, canter, jump teeny cavaletti, groom, pick feet, "braid", tack up, and generally "play" with. That pony was PRICELESS. His "vice" was grass and that was easily corrected/mitigated with a pair of grazing reins.
Parents also can't wrap their heads around the fact that kids will quickly outgrow certain ponies/horses, not necessarily physically, but rather in terms of experience level. Our first pony was a W/T/C pony and not really a short stirrup pony. So within two years, we needed to move up to a short stirrup pony. And two years later, we needed to move up again to something she could do the pony hunters on. Thankfully, we have two daughters, so the ponies could get passed down.
The above was based on the advice given to me a long time ago from the mother of an international grand prix rider when I asked her how her son got to be where he was. She walked me over to Stall No. 1 in her barn. The pony occupying that stall was purportedly 50+ years old. She said that her son started riding him 25 years prior... She told me that she always make sure her son was challenged without being overfaced even if that meant buying a different pony every couple of years.
I've passed this along to other parents, but it is advice seldom followed.
I'm another huge proponent of ponies. I think it is critically important for children to learn to handle, groom, and tack up their own mounts as they are able, and this is just not possible with larger horses. Children love to do for themselves and learn how to be independent and this isn't possible when you have a small child matched with a horse. I also think that ponies are safer for children. There's a big difference between falling off of a 12 hand pony vs. a 16 hand horse.
I do think that sometimes people have unrealistic expectations for ponies. Ponies need to be trained and sometimes have that training reinforced by an experienced person just like any other horse. And, just like with horses, not all ponies are by definition kid friendly just because of their smaller size. I've seen people assume that just because a pony is a pony it should be kid proof, and that's just not how it works.
A good schoolie is rare and comes in both pony and horse sizes. Ponies can be devilish, so just getting a pony should not be a goal--getting a saintly schoolie should be the goal.
That said, having a couple cute ponies that are saintly is ideal for attracting your taget customers. Parents of kids 10 and under will tend to be looking to fulfill a vision of their child on a cute pony, and not their kid riding around on a shuffling old retired 16h sport horse or a 30 year old quarter horse. While the oh-so-cute pic of the child on a pony attracts the parents, what keeps the kid begging to come back is a connection they feel to the horse they ride. After the first few lessons, the kid's ability to groom, braid, handle feet, hang out with, and tack up their own pony? The kids that catch the bug tend to get to do that.
Large ponies are my favorite and the favorite lesson horses at my barn--saintly lesson ponies are going to be much harder to find, however, than your average aged lesson hony.
IMO her demand for a certain sized horse is a little silly, a good horse is a good horse. I wouldn't put them on a 17h beast or anything, but when I was six I started on a 16h quarter horse and got along fine. As long as the animal is safe it should be fine, whether it be a horse or a pony.
Temperament is most important, more so than size. But I really prefer a pony for little ones. At times, I haven't had the pony for the little ones and had to make do with that 15H horse. It worked, but wasn't ideal. With the pony, the child can do so much more, brushing, tacking, doing feet, plus they gain more confidence. While I agree that in general ponies will try things that horses won't, because they are smaller, the child can learn to deal with it, and learning to deal with it gives them more confidence. It can be really hard to find the right smaller pony. I had a couple of great ponies in my program, was offered a lot of money, and sold them. That was a mistake. I have spent years looking to replace them, and finally I think I have. But I went through quite a number of ponies that just weren't quite right first. I kept looking, though, because to me having appropriate sized horses and ponies is just as important as having the appropriate temperaments. In my school program I have a small, a medium, two larges, and a range of horses from 15.1H through 17H. The last one I consider a little too big, but have him because lately I have been getting some really tall/big riders, and have needed him. I feel that with my current mix of eleven schoolies that range from 12H to 17H I have all the bases covered well.
me too! the first horse i learned to ride on when i was 7 was a 17h saddlebred.
Originally Posted by RolyPolyPony
Ponies are evil, and if my mother did nothing else right she made sure I grew up without ponies. The 3 horses I rode from "can sit up" to 7 were 15.3, 16.2, and 17.1. The two biggest were hot saddlebreds. From 7-9 I rode a 17+h QH.
I ran a lesson program with 40+ students aging from 3-50 and we didn't have a single pony. We got in a pony for a hot minute but sent it back because I just couldn't trust the little snit with my students.
If/when I have kids they will own horses, not ponies.
I started riding when I was 3. I don't mean pony rides on a hot walker. I mean lessons. Every week. The horses I rode were draft/TB mixes. They were big and sturdy but they were great. Forty-something years later, I'm teaching my 4 year-old to ride and I put her on horses because ponies make me nervous. I suppose there are pony people and horse people just like there are dog people and cat people. Interestingly though, it seems to me that ponies are like cats and horses are like dogs. I'll admit it, I'm a dog person but I don't dislike cats. However, cats are a little too independent to entrust my 4 year-old with and so are ponies. Thus, I don't see why anyone would insist that their beginner start on a pony.
I rode a large pony schoolie for one season as a child but shot up in height and moved right up to the 15.2h range. First horse I owned was 15.3 and the next was 16.3.
It's much more of a "done thing" to insist that kids ride ponies overseas than it is here I think.
I started riding when I was three, also. My aunt was a BHSI and she ran a small riding school and I started on a few of her school horses. I took weekly lessons. I got a shetland pony for my fifth birthday, and my father said it was time to learn to fall off properly :) so we practiced dismounts and falls using the pony and soft fields with grass.
you say its for a summer camp, so I am assuming multiple kids or different heights, skill levels and age. I think having something on the small side 14 h would be ideal. The smaller size will help with the younger inexperienced kids but also be able to carry a small adult. I can't imagine being on a 16.2 h horse as an 8 year old. I just recently was riding a 16.2 h QH while the owner was out of town for a month and I hated it. I am only 5'2 with short legs and putting my legs over him and around him was torture. I even had to lengthen my stirrups a couple holes. It was actually difficult to ride.
CONFESSION: I've never ridden a pony. EVER.