what's the smallest sized pony you'd consider driving for CDEs that could handle pulling an adult driver who is "stout" in build? Asking this question for a friend who is somewhat handicapped and probably weighs close to 200 pounds, she is not as agile and quick as she used to be and would prefer to work with a smaller equine overall. I have a 37 inch mini who is full of himself but she's doubtful he'd be able to get her through the marathon portion so she's thinking something larger?
If you want tiny, you may want to go with a Pair. That would require a groom for all sections, but you might be able to locate a small person for hire or the fun of riding along. The vehicle would probably be easier to get in and out of, more stable with 4 wheels. Pair does give you a bit "more power" to manage the course and going on softer surfaces for Dressage and Cones.
Of course this is all more expensive than doing a tiny single. Only advantage of a single, would be no groom required with the VSE.
For a real pony above the VSE limit, I would want something about 12H. You want animal pulling not more than about 40% of their weight or even less, if possible. Seems to be the efficient number for getting the most work out of them. Some courses are very hilly, soft ground, which is hard work if passengers, vehicle, almost equal the animal weight. Sure there are animals pulling loads over that optimum load size, but they are working VERY HARD. You have to get them very fit to recover quickly, stay healthy. Being in the lower levels of competition, you have easier times to meet, less distance, less gates to do in Hazards, which reduces the work, so the animal is not working as hard as an upper level equine.
Just that all the folks I know starting with the smaller ponies, changed them for larger ponies as they kept competing. Said the work was just too hard for such small beasts. Not even using VSEs. Those Driver and Groom folks were not large people, but muscle weighs more than non-muscle on your body, so they still were a weighty load, plus the vehicle, for the smaller pony.
Well, I have moved from large ponies down to a small pony Shetland. The difference in ease of handling equipment is amazing. Most of my 20 year CD experience, I have had to have pick up navigators. That has been fun and I met many new friends that way, but not having to worry about a navigator is the main thing that drew me to the new ADS small pony division. I would hesitate to do a 3 phase marathon with a small pony and me, but an HDT is fine.
I agree with the others on this one. We have a 13h welsh pony (section B) that we do CDE's with. Between the carriage (4 wheeled marathon carriage) and the weight of my husband and myself, our 600lb pony was pulling about 800lb. We had to keep him in great shape (worked him about 5 to 6 days a week) and we did full 12-14km marathons with him. He was able to do the times and was very competitive but we felt that it was too much for him (as he would come in tired at the end and his temp was too high for my liking). We have since bought a brother and now show a pair and we find it much easier on them - plus my husband fell in love with driving a pair and will not go back to single! We now have a young large pair of ponies as we would like to "upgrade" even more - but still want to stay with ponies.
I'm not too sure on the rules for VSE's and if you have to take a navigator on course or not. If you do, I would say that it would be very difficult for a VSE to pull 2 adults even with a 2 wheeled cart. But maybe a HDT would be just fine...I think it depends on the animal as well as I also showed a 13.2h stocky cob (pleasure driving) as there would be no way he would be able to do a full marathon. I think he would quit after the first km! He also pulled half the weight our welsh pony did (4 wheeled light single pony carriage and just myself when I was training). He was an awesome pony but did not have the "heart" or drive that our other pony did.
Last edited by DiamondJubilee; Dec. 6, 2012 at 02:16 PM.