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Horse or Pony?

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  • Horse or Pony?

    Looking to getting into driving when I move to Maryland in December, and I'm researching and window shopping while I bide my time until then. I will only be there for 2 years before I move back to Hawaii. I don't know if I want to completely give up riding and just get a mini/small or med pony, or get a large, stocky pony/small horse and have something I can also hope on and take for a trail ride or hack. So I am looking for some insight.

    Minis look like a lot of fun, they and their equipment are easy to transport, I am going to have to move all this stuff from Maryland to Hawaii. A mini/pony would be less expensive, both in initial purchase and maintenance. I know, I know, many of the costs of minis are the same as the costs of large horses. Board, farrier, vet, none of those are likely to give me a break due to size, but hay in Hawaii is $45 per 50# bale of timothy, so less feed does keep costs down. Gear is also less expensive. The ground at the ranch in Hawaii is pretty flat, the roads are wide and packed dirt. There are multiple arenas and large grass fields to drive in. A mini and cart could go pretty much anywhere I could ride a horse on the ranch. There is a trail across the street and down the beach where the sand is too deep and the path too narrow for a pony and cart.

    I would have to completely give up riding though. Or I could just get a horse who both rides and drives, and then I could still hop up and go for a hack or trail ride down the beach if I wanted to. So, on to my questions.

    How hard is it to find a small draft/large pony that is broke to both ride and drive? Think Section D cobs, or Fjord style. I'm 5'9 and not a willowy thing, so anything around 14-15 hands is going to need to have some bone to it to carry me.
    How fussy are the carts for a pony that size to deal with? Are they too awkward for one person to manage? I am going to have to be pretty self sufficient once I get to Hawaii. I need to be able to move and hitch the cart/carriage by myself.
    How difficult is it to store and maintain them? I will have to buy/build a shed to store it, and it would be easier if I could fit it in a large rubbermaid shed, rather than having to build one from scratch.

    What about a larger horse? I imagine it will be easier to find a taller draft cross or full draft. It seems America doesn't like the "hony" sized beast, which I don't understand at all. I adored the cobs I got to ride in the UK. Perfect size and build. Anyway, as you go up in size, how much more difficult does it get to manage everything?

    TLDR: As you go up in horse size, how much more difficult does it get to deal with all the gear and set up.
    For the horse color genetics junky

  • #2
    I'll just touch on some of your questions:

    Fjords broke to ride and drive are available, and in general a 14'0+ hand fjord will probably work quite nicely. I'm 5'8, trail ride, do CDE and dressage with my fjord and people are endlessly surprised at shows when I get off and they see how tall I am. We "fit" nicely. And he's not the drafty type of fjord either.

    Your primary challenge with these cob size ride and drive breeds is, as you say, they are not around every corner in the US, so you might need to travel to find the right one.

    As for the part about handling your carriage or cart yourself, if it is a cart, they are pretty easy to move around (I had a pony sized meadowbrook for years)... and pretty uncomfortable to drive in "non-groomed footing" compared to a carriage! I lease propoerty so I am not building anything, so in dealing with what I had... Well, my marathon carriage (about 370lbs) is easy enough to move around myself as long a a hill/incline isn't involved. But because putting it up in the shed involved rolling it up a hill and over the raised step (as in a slight incline and not exactly a huge step), I battled (by myself) with it for about 7 months. First I tried it with ramps. Nope. Then I got a come-along. Doable, but a pain in the ass and I never had it set up right. Then I got a nice cover (UTV, breathable). Worked, but still, moisture was an issue... this is an expensive piece of equipment that I want to last. So I tried this combo of putting it in the shed w/the come along when we weren't driving for a few days and leaving it out covered when we were actively driving.

    So. Annoying.

    I finally bought one of those pop up tents with sides/zip door that people use at art shows (abbacanopy on amazon) because it was cheaper than the appropriate sized "shed in a box" and set it up by the barn. Someone who does art shows told me about putting a hula hoop or pool noodle in the corners to help with rain run off and it has been going strong for almost a year now. Also 3 of 4 legs are tied down to fencing so I really do not worry about it leaving. I took it down for a tropical storm once but other than that, it stays up and the carriage stays clean and dry in it.

    I suppose if you were to compare a mini in a light cart or hyperbike, yes that would be super light and once you get into teams/pairs, holy crap is that a lot of $tuff and a lot of weight. But I think weight wise, going from medium pony to an average size horse... moving around a 280lb, a 400lb or 600lb carriage is easy if it is level/smooth ground and not easy if it is not!
    Last edited by DMK; Jun. 17, 2019, 05:17 PM.
    Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


    • #3
      I have two minis, one I drive. He is 34 inches. I do wish he was a bit bigger, say 10 hands or so as I feel he is bordering the "too small to be useful" line when the footing is anything other than flat and smooth. I have a friend whose driving pony is this size and he gets around great.
      Regarding the maintenance, minis are cheaper to feed but their vet bills and farrier bills are the same as a bigger horse/pony, but I see you are aware of that. I missed that part when I first read your post , sorry!
      So to answer your question, If I were to get another driving companion, it would be a pony a wee bit bigger than a mini.
      Last edited by cayuse; Jun. 17, 2019, 04:55 PM. Reason: misread op's post, my bad


      • Original Poster

        I don't suppose you've got any hints on where to find those unicorn broke to ride and drive fjord/welsh cobs/draft-like ponies. I have been stalking the internet for the last 6 months and not had much luck getting any leads, not that I am ready to buy. It seems that people buy these guys young and don't let go of them. Especially not if they are going nicely both undersaddle and in harness.

        I have found a ton of young horses that fit the bill, but I got my last 2 horses young/green with the intention to bring them along and neither one worked out. The first (a mustang) needed more of a job than I could give her, she now spends her days pushing cattle and riding fences on Maui and loves it. The second one (a fjord) needed less of a job than I could give him. He now spends his days carting tourists around on the Big Island and loves never going faster than a walk. I need a horse that doesn't hate working, but doesn't need to end everyday tired to be happy. Somewhere in the middle would be nice. (I had that horse, stupid cancer took him early.)

        I am a little gunshy about going with a young horse again. I suppose it will be easier to find someone who can help me find and bring along a young horse in Maryland. I do want to learn how to start a driving horse, mostly out of curiosity and a desire to learn everything. A small pony/mini also seems like it would be less intimidating to start.

        The pop up garage looks nice, and the ranch is pretty level, like I said. Though we can get nasty storms. I don't like hearing that a cart isn't comfortable on un-finished surfaces. Some of the roads are nicely smoothed, but most have at least a few dips and holes. I was planning on going the two wheel route because I had read that they were generally safer and easier to drive.
        For the horse color genetics junky


        • #5
          I've had two driving ponies. One was a Hackney pony, the other of unknown breed but probably mostly Welsh. The Hackney was 12.2 and small boned. He was fine dragging my butt around the first couple of years I had him, but struggled when he got into his upper 20s, so I retired him. The other pony felt huge in comparison even though he was only 13.2. He was very stocky and never had trouble hauling me or me and a passenger.

          The big advantage to ponies is that you can reach across their backs to do stuff on the opposite side. I could get both shafts in the tugs from one side on both ponies. I always had two wheel vehicles, and the rougher ride didn't really bother me. I drove on rutted gravel roads and also did a lot of off road stuff on fairly rough ground. My vehicles were easy entry carts. I found my friend's beautiful Meadowbrook to be a lot rougher.

          My vet said my bigger pony could carry an adult easily. But I never tried riding him.

          I hope this helps.



          • #6
            A couple of other breeds to look at would be Morgans and Standardbreds. Both could easily fit what you're looking for.


            • #7
              I'm a relative Newb to driving, 5yrs in, owned my mini (my first Driver) since 2017.
              If I could get another, I'd go with something around 13h, stout enough for me to ride.

              I drive trails - 10-15mi+ - in a wire Easy Entry with bike tires & the ride is comfortable.
              My show cart is a wood Easy Entry with wood wheels & ride is stiffer, even on level grass.

              I can easily load my carts by myself into my step-up stock trailer. And I am no Youth, 65 is in my rearview
              If I had the larger pony I might need help, or at the least ramps to get a cart on.

              What I like most about driving a smaller animal is the Driver's view.
              I can see the road, not just to either side of the butt in front.
              A carriage (4 wheels) with a higher seat would solve that.
              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


              • #8
                For fjords you can try the fb page, Fjord horses that are registered

                (Cryptic due to fb restrictions, but it is a sale page)

                But you are right, they tend to fall into two groups, Older and btdt or young. But every now and then you find the right one. But I wouldn't expect that fjord to be cheap
                Last edited by DMK; Jun. 18, 2019, 10:33 AM.
                Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                • Original Poster

                  Hmm. "If I had to do it again I would get something a little bigger." seems to be a reoccurring comment.

                  Do you find it takes long for other horses to get used to a horse and cart. By other horses, I mean, are you spooking all the horses you ride past. Is smaller more or less spooky? The ranch is an all disciplines ranch, and it's crazy around here. Herds of polo ponies galloping around all getting conditioned at once, skydivers who miss the landing zone coming down in the pastures, live bands across the street at the polo field on game days, the occasional helicopter scooping water from the ponds to deal with fires on the mountain, that sort of thing. As a result, most of the horses are pretty level headed, but horses are horses, and I don't want to be that person.
                  For the horse color genetics junky


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by DMK View Post
                    For fjords you can try the fb page, Fjord horses that are registered

                    (Cryptic due to fb restrictions, but it is a sale page)

                    But you are right, they tend to talk into vtwo groups, Older and btdt or young. But every now and then you find the right one. But I wouldn't expect that fjord to be cheap
                    I'm pretty sure I'm on that page, It may have gotten buried in all my other groups, I will have to check again.

                    I don't expect cheap for any horse that is safely broke to ride and drive and not staring at retirement, for any breed and especially not for a rare breed. Been around horses long enough to have learned that lesson. I have been saving my nickles and dimes. I should have around $15K to set fire to...I spend on a pony. I'm hoping that will get me something halfway decent. I don't need fancy, and I am willing to compromise/flex on everything but safe & reasonably sound. If my budget means I can't get one that I can ride too I can live with that.
                    For the horse color genetics junky


                    • #11
                      I’m not as tall as you, but find that I can easily ride my 13-2HH pony over hilly terrain with no issue. Driving her wouldn’t be bad either since she’s still short enough I can fairly easily reach over her back. My vet said that I could also ride my 12-2HH pony that I intend to break to drive. I prefer the more versatile larger ponies because you *can* if you want saddle them for a ride or keep them between the shafts. You might look into the shorter QHs and even simple grade horses. Haflingers are nice and solid ride-drive types too like Fjords.

                      I’ve not found that horses spook that badly at other horses pulling carts. Especially since the atmosphere you describe sounds pretty active and desensitizing. I think if the horses don’t freak out over bicycles and such, they don’t have much trouble with carts/carriages.


                      • #12
                        A pony! Obviously, a pony. The go-getter attitude! The convenient, fun-sized package! The ease of harnessing and putting-to! No step stool to braid!

                        I legitimately do not know why anyone would drive anything BUT a pony. I love me some ponies.

                        Current Mister O'Pony is 13.3 and a bit. Next year I may have him started under saddle, but I have so much fun driving, I've barely ridden in the last 9 years.

                        When I was pony shopping, I posted an ISO ad on a lot of FB sites: CD-L, some ADS regional sites, Driving Ponies, Welsh Ponies and Cobs For Sale. Granted, I was LOOKING for an 8 to 10 year old 12.2 bay mare, and I ended up with a 4 year old 13.3 and 3/4 grey gelding, which also necessitated the acquisition of some cob-sized harness parts (thanks for being so convenient for mix-and-match, Zilco!) and, yes, a larger carriage (sorry, long-suffering and non-horsy husband).

                        Anyway, FB yielded a lot of possibilities. As for other horses, I think I should start charging for all the valuable desensitization I'm providing at the barn.


                        • Original Poster

                          I'm not gonna lie, the 12 year old girl in me wants a pony.

                          Edit: Okay, you guys are going to get me in trouble. I spent the evening looking at welsh ponies for sale on Facebook. I WANT ONE!!! Actually... I want two. You can drive them two at a time. That's a thing, and it's amazing!
                          Last edited by Twisting; Jun. 18, 2019, 04:49 AM.
                          For the horse color genetics junky


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FaithfulCurly View Post
                            I’ve not found that horses spook that badly at other horses pulling carts. Especially since the atmosphere you describe sounds pretty active and desensitizing. I think if the horses don’t freak out over bicycles and such, they don’t have much trouble with carts/carriages.
                            I beg to differ.
                            My TB Hunter could not get past the idea that potential horse-eating carts followed other horses & nobody died!
                            At one A show we went to they had a Driving class on Sunday.
                            I Could.NOT! use the warmup ring that was close to where that class was held.
                            At one barn I boarded a guy had a Morgan he drove & I had a lesson where TB kept his head turned to watch the cart outside the ring as we did a 20m circle inside - he looked like a stunt double for The Exorcist

                            Even at Driving shows, some of the Drivers & teams - pairs, 4-in-hand, etc - object to the minis.
                            But, OP, I would not let that prevent me from driving.
                            If horses at your place have gotten accustomed to the other todo you describe, eventually carts will be a non sequitur.

                            And yes, driving a pair is quite common.
                            But in my one-time experience, it is like rubbing your stomach while patting your head - takes a LOT of coordination! There are two distinct personalities at the end of those lines!
                            Not to mention the added cost of pairs harness, carriage, etc...
                            Imagine the expertise & $$$ needed to drive a 4-in-hand or one of the 6 or 8 Draft Horse hitches
                            I require a Jawlifter every time I watch a 4 doing the Marathon phase of CDE, or an 8H Hitch perform Spinning the Top.
                            2 Words: Awe Some.
                            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                            • #15
                              hah, I was about to say, ALL MINIs ARE TERRIFYING. Even to driving horses. And yes, some horses are just ... undone... by driving horses. My favorite comment with a jumper groom heading to the ring at Live Oak on Saturday (sharing barns and a looooong walk past driving warm up areas) was, "You should have been here during the speed class"

                              The set up to that was us talking about how the big GP horses were all fairly familiar with driving horses having competed in Europe at some point in their lives and were pretty chill about a 4H team thundering past them on the way in from marathon, but the speed horses were just as likely to have never left this continent and for them, it was sometimes a case of Mind. Blown.

                              But your real challenge is NOT the horses. I think given the right introduction just about every horse out there will adapt to the monster (cart/carriage) that has caught that poor horse. However there are far more riders that do not have that same adaptive abilities. That is your biggest hurdle.

                              I would put an "ISO post" on that fjord facebook page, that may help more than just looking (I would add your geographic range for a search as well). Also wouldn't hurt to add an ISO on the carriage driving classifieds page as well.
                              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                              • #16
                                Have to run back to work so haven't read all the posts. But I absolutely have a blast with my mini...he's currently competing Intermediate and actually winning against the big horses. I had to retire my 13.2HH pony...and just took over my husband's mini. He is just as much fun as my pony was, and the equipment and care of a mini is much easier in my opinion. We can fit a pairs carriage, the single cart, all the accessories and three mini's in a 16' alum. stock trailer. And pull it with the motorhome - so yah, I'm sold on the equipment perks end of it. I love having the motorhome at the shows. Love it.


                                • #17
                                  If you are looking at Fjords also look at Haflingers. Some are actually kind of hot but many are not and they can carry a tall adult. A lot of them come well broke to drive, and less well broke to ride, and they often mask their greenness with their quiet view of the world, but if you keep up with the training they are marvelous.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TwinCity View Post
                                    We can fit a pairs carriage, the single cart, all the accessories and three mini's in a 16' alum. stock trailer.

                                    I need your Secret Formula & maybe a diagram.
                                    I have a 16' stock too, & while I can see putting 3 minis in the back with the center gate shut (I load carts in front, mini behind the gate in back) how the heck do you fit a 4-wheel carriage AND a cart in there?

                                    I've been patting myself on the back ever since I got my wire EZ-Entry & wood showcart loaded in front & both arrived after a 2h drive on the highway in great shape.
                                    Harness goes on one of those racks made to hang on a stall wall that lives in the trailer, along with a mini muckfork & wee muck bucket plus a small tote that holds ratchet straps, pieces of foam to wrap where the straps go & various chunks of wood to chock wheels. A bale of hay & bag of shavings fit too & are usually sufficient for a 3-day trip.
                                    My show clothes, his grooming box & small water bucket go in my SUV.

                                    A C-Class motorhome would be heavenly, but first I need a winning lottery ticket.

                                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                                    • #19
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ID:	10414876 Pony! Pony! Everyone needs a pony!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post

                                        I need your Secret Formula & maybe a diagram.
                                        A C-Class motorhome would be heavenly, but first I need a winning lottery ticket.
                                        Lol...I did win a lottery...small one but very helpful! The tent that goes in the back of the pick up got old very fast in a wicked storm. And near snow. That was a super cold show in the middle of a field with no amenities. I was ready to take up competitive knitting after that one.

                                        As for the trailer...Hubby Dearest puts the 4 wheeler in first. Then the two wheeler is winched up on top of it. The two wheeler sits on a steel welded rack that Hubby and local High School Shop/Welding Teacher put their collective brain cells into (the ones that weren't taken up with dealing with high school students). We get the wow that's cool comments all the And yep, pretty much everything else gets stuffed in around it. We bought the shop rack mesh 2 by 2 stuff that baskets etc. hang off of...not sure how to describe them...but we can hang lots of stuff off of them. Only thing that goes in the motorhome is the electric fence stuff. Here's a pic of the rig...don't have any of the inside. Edited to add...the four wheeler is a Kutzmann Microfox and the two wheeler is a Frey Rebel...and the motorhome was a used one that we bought from a rental place...great deal and in really good shape!