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Tell me to try the pony

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    Tell me to try the pony

    So, I just started driving, barely know what I am doing, and through word of mouth a pony has fallen into my lap. I am trying to decide if I should go see him next weekend, or go to the navigator's clinic. Pony and clinic are 3 hours away in opposite directions, so it is one or the other.

    Friend gave me a tip on a pony who was for sale, word of mouth only at this point. I gave the owner a call.

    Pony is 10hh, 14 years old. Owner is a vet, pony was their kids riding horse and then they had him trained to drive, but they don't drive and kids aren't driving so pony is sitting around being a babysitter for another horse. Since the owner didn't know much she gave me the contact info for the woman who trained him to drive. Pony is healthy but out of shape and does have a bug allergy that they say is easily managed with a bug off smartpak and daily fly spraying. Owner wants references because she is worried about pony's fate. I can provide these.

    Called the trainer. Trainer says pony is a saint. He was a saint when the kids rode him, he was a saint when she trained him to drive and he was a saint when she borrowed him last summer to teach kids to drive in a driving camp. She says she doesn't call horses bomb proof but she is sorely tempted to do so for this pony.

    Pony comes with his custom harness and cart all fitted by the pro, and the trainer said she would be happy to meet me at the owner's place to help he try him out. As my agent, not the owner's. She also mentioned the bug allergy, and that it was easily managed.

    What red flags am I missing? I am not, at this point, ready to start driving on my own. So there is that, but from the sound of it pony would benefit from an in hand fitness program to pass the time until I am more comfortable driving. (I could probably also benefit from some "in hand fitness" myself.)

    Or I could hold off on pony viewing this weekend and go to the clinic instead, then maybe go see pony the next weekend. I do worry that pony might not still be around if I drag my feet. My biggest reason for going to the navigator clinic was to meet the local driving community, more than learning from the clinic. It will be quite some time before I am ready for a competition.
    For the horse color genetics junky

    I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I would do--go try the pony! Will there be a future opportunity for the navigator clinic?



      I hate those "Either-Or" kind of choices!

      You might call seller, ask if you could put some minimal amount down to hold pony an extra week for you. Forfeit if you don't buy, for them " putting" potential buyers off a week. He sure sounds like a dream driving animal, the kind that are so hard to find!! I would be worried about missing him too, so "putting down earnest money" will have the buyer looking at you favorably. Not sure on his price (if not real high), but $50 to 75 dollars should be helpful in getting hIm held for you. Can they send pictures on the phone or computer, to see what he looks like? Of course being winter, you may only be able to tell front from hind, has 4 legs! Ha ha

      I think you will benefit greatly from attending the Clinic. Benefits of meeting other driving folks, getting connected are huge. Perhaps you can meet a trainer nearby to work with you and pony. Is his original trainer too far away to use? Ground work is fine, but gaining confidence actually driving pony in lessons under supervision, would get you going alone sooner. With confidence in him, yourself, you can go play at organized activities sooner.


        Original Poster

        They have sent a photo. He is currently a little bay furball with 4 legs and a pretty cute face, (that appears to be begging for food in the photo.) They also sent one from last summer where he is half asleep with a bunch of 7 year olds sitting in the cart behind him grinning like Cheshire cats. He's solid and plain, and I've had good luck with solid and plain.

        There isn't another Navigator clinic coming up this year, but there are a number of other events. There is a driving clinic, a pleasure show and driving trials all in the next 3 months. I was thinking about volunteering at the closer show and attending the next clinic, just for the group lecture portion.

        Original trainer is about 3 hours away. My current instructor is slightly better at 1 hour away. Why is Texas so big!!!!
        For the horse color genetics junky


          To be honest, the bug allergy gives me pause. Other than that, he sounds like a perfect pony for someone. But I was looking for myself, because I have an "allergy pony" already, I would pass. If your OK with the allergy thing, then go see the pony .


            Go see the pony. Pony saints can be hard to come by. Before then, do a little research into the bug allergy (how severe, is it likely the medication will stop working, could the allergy become worse...) and see if that is something you want to deal with long-term.
            Then, definitely plan to attend the driving clinic and volunteer at a show. You will have just as many, if not more, opportunities to network with other driving folks and get to see more 'action' and different kinds of harness/vehicles. Try to locate a local driving club (contact your ADS Regional Director!) and join - clubs are a great resource for new drivers. Have fun!


              If the pony is only being advertised by word of mouth to a home with great references, and they know you are interested and have said references, is there actually a line at his door?

              If you went to the navigator clinic you would have the opportunity to talk with other drivers about this pony, and maybe others that are out there as well should this one not end up being the one. And knowing how to navigate will bring you even more opportunities to meet drivers.

              Just an alternative perspective.


                Original Poster

                The local-ish Driving club is the Houston Area Carriage Association, and they are the ones holding the clinics/shows. The lady who gave me the tip on this pony is on their board, so i'm already well on my way to making connections. I did also just find out that Tom O'Carroll is going to be holding a 3 day clinic in March up near Dallas. I have heard good things about him and I'm wondering if it's not worth the trip up there. So many choices! (And once again, Texas is far too large for my liking.)

                I am leaning towards going to see this pony. I've dealt with bug allergies before, and my mare was worse than this guy seems to be, (full body hives, rubbing herself bloody if not on daily anti-histamines) so I am familiar with them and how to deal with them. It doesn't put me off if the current owners have it under control. We've had a warm winter, so the bugs are already out in full force, if he's not itchy or missing chunks of fur when I go see him they probably have a handle on it.
                For the horse color genetics junky


                  I vote for Go See Pony (& bring your trailer).

                  I passed on a saint of a teenaged pony + his carriage for a real steal - $1200 for both.
                  I had 2 riding horses at the time.
                  Pony belonged to the trainer who taught me to drive & I'd already driven him with her on the roads & by myself in the farm's huge, unfenced fields.
                  But as Driving was new to me then, I let him go to someone else.

                  This pony sounds like a perfect Starter & could end up being your CDE pony < since you mention wanting to learn Navigating.

                  There are no Driving trainers in my area (mine moved out of state), but Driving club members - I belong to 2, one mostly trail drives, the other ADS competitive - have helped me a LOT with my first Driving horse (a mini)
                  *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


                    Original Poster

                    I messaged the owner and the trainer. I am going to go see him this weekend.
                    For the horse color genetics junky


                      Word of mouth saintly pony for sale with properly fitted harness & cart is worth going to see ASAP. I'd want all the data on the bug allergy. For what it's worth I use Ecovet fly spray and it does an excellent job of repelling insects.

                      Good luck and report back your findings!


                        Safe travels & successful shopping !
                        Treat others the way you want others to treat you ~ on your threads !


                          I hope PICTURES of the saintly pony are forthcoming!


                            Original Poster

                            I didn't take many pictures because I am bad at remembering that sort of thing. Apparently they haven't really done anything at all with him since June, so today was his first day out in months.

                            So, the good.

                            They let me catch him in the field, bring him in, groom, harness and put him to the cart (with supervision).
                            Pony met us at the gate and was happy to be caught.
                            Picks up all four feet, I didn't notice any bald patches of lumps and bumps (didn't see any ribs either, could juuuuust barely make them out when digging my fingers into his side.)
                            Stood like a statue while being put to the cart.
                            Moved off promptly with just voice, very light in the bridle and easily rateable between and withing gaits with nothing but voice and small half halts. Steering is very soft as well. Just half halts.
                            Whoa means stop moving his feet, and he is very good at it.
                            After I was done driving him I sat in the cart chatting with the owner and trainer for a good 15 minutes, pony never moved his feet.
                            He's steady. One of the owner's horses was galloping back and forth along the fenceline while we were driving over a bunch of crunchy dead branches and her kids were on the other side of us jumping on a trampoline AND his pasture mate was screaming her fool head off for him. (He's babysitting a warmblood yearling.) He never twitched. Just kept right on marching along doing his job.
                            He was fun to drive. Responsive without being reactive, really had a workmanlike attitude.

                            The could use improvement

                            He backed, but it took some convincing and there was some head tossing. He got better and after the second try was backing without complaint.
                            Stepping over was a lot like backing. He did it but could use a brush up.
                            Ground manners could use some work. Mostly when leading, he wasn't horrible, but there was plenty of obnoxious diving for grass. It's nothing that a little consistent handling by someone who weighs more than 50 pounds wouldn't fix. He was cooperative enough when he realized I really meant what I said.

                            Owner is checking my references, and she said she was willing to do a 30 day "trial". I would pay in full before he left, but if in 30 days it just wasn't going to work out she would buy him back for what I paid, so long as there were no major health changes.

                            As for the bug allergy, he didn't show any signs of being itchy, and they said they only treat him in the summer with Smartpak's bug off and daily fly spray. Two summers ago it got bad enough that he needed a steroid shot. I can handle that for a soft steady pony.

                            Got a bit more of his backstory too. Apparently he is a failed kids riding pony. He gave lessons and taught beginners for a few years, but he eventually quit on them He started standing by the gate and refusing to move. They suspect he was tired of kids using his face for balance. With as soft mouthed as he was I can see that. So they loaned him to a friend who had him trained to drive and then drove him herself for a while before she lost interest and gave him back.
                            For the horse color genetics junky


                              I like everything you said about this pony!!! The good stuff is GREAT and the Could use Improvement is so fixable!!

                              What a generous seller to offer a 30 day trial period. The most I've gotten in recent years is a week and that's all I'll allow as a seller.

                              Good luck!


                                Original Poster

                                The seller is more concerned that this pony get a great home then with selling him. They just don't like seeing him sit and do nothing. They would like him to go to someone who will take him out and use him, but they would rather keep him than have him end up in a bad place, or the wrong place. They really do like him. Pretty sure that is why the long-ish trial. She actually suggested the trial.
                                For the horse color genetics junky


                                  Just having a solid whoa and the brain to ignore the chaos around him and do his job makes him worth his weight in gold.

                                  Add in the cuteness factor and easy transitions? I'd take him and run.


                                    What cattywampus said
                                    A solid, Feet-in-Cement Whoa is worth his weight in plutonium
                                    He sounds like the Perfect Starter pony & IIRC, you have knowledgeable help to get him over his rough spots (that really don't sound all that bad).

                                    Doesn't hurt that he is a Cutie

                                    Take the pony!!!
                                    Report back here when you cannot wipe the grin off after driving him.
                                    With more pics
                                    *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


                                      Blue Ribbon Find !!!!!

                                      Lucky You !!!!

                                      Pony !!!!
                                      Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                                        Sounds perfect, the type you can have a lot of fun with.