If I wanted to have my mini broke to ride...well, who, how, and should I?
My son adores his 36" mini, but I'd really like to get him in the saddle. If she were broke, it'd be perfect because she's so small and naturally pokey, heh. She has the pony 'tude, most certainly, but she's not mean-spirited--just opinionated and opportunistic.
I should add she's 13, so no young'un, but far from ancient.
Son is pretty dang tall, that's the thing, so he may outgrow her quickly--although his younger brother (turns 3 next week, yeesh!) could then inherit her as a riding mount.
But then, of course, there's the HOW the HECK and WHO the heck and WHERE the heck do I go about getting her trained to take a saddle?
(My riding horse could work for leadline, but he's way too much of a young goofball for a kid to truly ride, even on the lungeline. I've looked into local lessons, but haven't had much luck yet. Plus, of course, I'd like him to ride our own horses.)
Find a kid you don't like and have him be the "pilot".
One step better, a redneck who will toss up his shoeless, shirtless, helmetless toddler (extra points for being tied on so mini is truly broke - you don't want the little bugger to learn they can toss kiddie off).
You can probably find one of these professionals on craigslist at a very reasonable cost ( a case of beer or trade for a shotgun).
We've broke a few of the Hackney ponies at our barn to saddle and it wasn't terribly hard despite them being too small for us to actually ride. Being show ponies, our little ones had a pretty solid background in driving though. I'll share how we did it anyway as you may be able to pick up some nuggets of useful information for getting your own started.
I'm guessing your little fella has good ground manners and is used to being handled. Next would be w/t/c on the lunge line, after that gently introducing the saddle and then the bit. From there we progress to line driving, teaching the pony to turn and putting a good "whoa" on them. Then line driving with the saddle on, after that the bravest one of the BO's small grandchildren are suited up in a helmet and sit on the pony. That progresses to hand-walking with the child on pony's back, then transitioning the hand-walking to the kid riding at a walk on his own with an adult walking alongside just in case. As the pony proves itself trustworthy the kids are given more freedom riding in the arena, to ride without an adult in arm's reach and start trotting.
This works for us because BO has no shortage of small horsey grand-kids and we take things really slow with them. I've got no clue if it's the "right" way to start a pony under saddle (like I said, these are ponies that are primarily used for driving and that's what BO's background is in), it's worked for us. The three we've done this with have turned out to be as trustworthy as snotty little Hackneys can be And no kids were harmed in the process! The kids can hop on them and putz around the arena safely, and the ponies aren't traumatized from the process.
Why not teach him to ride on a regular horse? It can't be good for the mini's physique, and why would you want him to internalize a horse's gait as being that kind of mixmaster chopping motion?
I don't know how old your son is, and it would be the first question I asked. I can't imagine any 5 or 6 year old, which is the correct age for learning to ride, because the have control of their bodies, and any sudden movement can be negotiated by the child, rather than have the bobbleheaded 4 or 3 year old end up with neck injuries or fall off because they don't yet have control of their bodies, I can't imagine any 5 or 6 year old who would a) want to ride a mini and b) woudn't excell with lessons on a regular small horse.
So I get back to my original question - what in your mind makes you want to have your mini ridden, and what in your mind makes you think your child would gain anything by riding a mini moreso than by riding a dog?
I ran into the same issue with my mini, when my DD was smaller. I think most of them aren't broke to "ride" as they are "broke to leadline rides".
Its extremely hard to find someone small enough to train them, that will be able to get them to the point that a 3-5 year old can handle them. They're fine for the bigger rider, but then they still pull their same crap on the kid.
Mine did the duck and spin. Go to lift kid, then he'd spin out. Repeat, and he'd usually stand. But you had to have one person leading and one person with their arms around kiddo's waist. Because if those little buggers decide they're done, you better have a good hold on the child.
Now, we have a saintly Shetland, that is the total opposite, I'm sure because she was trained properly. And I know that if she acted like an idiot, I could at least do a short tune-up on her. Can't exactly do that with the mini. That hand or two really makes a difference.
The minis (in most cases) just aren't that good at being ridden solo. Plus, finding tack to fit them (saddles and girths in particular) is a bear. I had to use a girth extender (just that!) as a girth.
we have a lot of them over here as we are a native pony island lol
so its easy you do the basics as you would a bigger horse as in lunge line and lunge whip, add tack, to bit the horse get a shetland bridle as it will fit her and a cub saddle is the smallest size if you cannot get a 14inch saddle as thats the average size for this type of pony, you need smaller leathers and irons might find those you want 4inch irons and
4inch bit english snaffles can start very small you do not want irons for the bigger ponies 12-2 and -132 will be to big, for her, and smaller size leathers, - to bit her put some honey on old bread as in yesterdays slice mould it round the bit take the reins off and put it on in the normal this then makes her accept the bit and open her mouth, do this for a week, also when you take it off say drop it- she should open her mouth to release the
bit--- your proably need a 28-32inch girth cottage craft do small ones, once lunging well both sides the rest is easy as these little ponies can carry a bigger person beleive that or not- so you can get on it yourself- they are used in farms to carry men and equipement in the shetland islands, so they are tough and strong, some need a kimblewick bit rather
than a snaffle as they like isad can be strong - and small children like yours do not have enough strnght to keep there heads up- so adding a stronger bit helps- these ponies are push me pull me types so you can do all training by leaning on them if you didnt want to get on and ride and they normally accept riders very easily-
so you should be able to put you kids on- soon have one adult leading and one adult holding the child behind his back- in other words grabbing hold of the back of his coat or jacket- so if the pony has a go- you can pull him off to safety- but she looks to sweet for that to happen
if it was me i would get on and ride her myself- am 5ft-2 and 8stone and as its for short period of time till shes learnt wfc left right etc as in 10-15mins each side then i dont see a problem as not going to be forever- and the beauty of you riding is you make this pony how you want it for your kids
and again vouch for training her to drive
I have a 32" mini that is broke to ride and drive. Her previous owner was a petite teenager and she started Mocha herself and did all the training. Did a great job too. Plenty of lunging and ground training, then she just jumped on. These days Mocha just gives the occasional pony ride to my neighbor's boys. The oldest is a bit tall for her but he is skinny so she handles his weight just fine. Need to get Desi (38") going so the boy can ride him next year.
The cutest class at our fair is the leadline class when all the minis (usually the larger ones) come out all tacked up with the little kids on board. And this is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. I ask a friend that breeds minis how she trains them for her grandkids to ride.
Crayola Posse - Pine Green
RIP Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
My other question is whether or not the mini is structurally sound? Not that I am shooting you down AT ALL! but I'm just curious? Odie the evil mini donk is five inches shorter than your sweetie pie, and like they say, that hand or two makes all the difference, but I'm not entirely sure I'd want to put more than 20 pounds on him. During the miniaturization process, something had to give and his little rear pasterns are at quite an angle.