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Oof. Owning horses has ruined a lot of public pony ride places for me.

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  • Oof. Owning horses has ruined a lot of public pony ride places for me.

    I just got back from taking our sons to a very large public park that has trains and the like. The trains were the plan. When I saw the pony rides alongside, of course I squealed with delight and bought two tickets.

    Then while waiting for the boys' rides, I started looking at the dozens of ponies taking their turns. And, well...

    In this forum, with this audience, I don't think I need to say more.

    I'll be sure our pony gets an extra cookie tonight.
    SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
    CP Trilogy 2002-2015
    My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

  • #2
    Sad, isn't it?

    Comment


    • #3
      Has anyone ever seen a public riding facility that wasn't at least semi-derelict? I ask this as an honest question. I know it isn't the same as keeping a hobby or a training barn & money may be tight, but I have never seen one that didn't make me cringe.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yup, sad. Lucky for us, we have a VERY nice "pony ride" business that the local fair hires each year. These ponies are very well cared for, clean, and all have American flag themed red whit and blue saddle pads and accessories. And best of all, the ride is free! I don't know how they pull that off, but its great for the kids to get introduced to clean well fed ponies!

        Comment


        • #5
          I know you are talking about a specific situation, but I do want to point out that public pony rides don't HAVE to be a disaster. My daughter worked for several years for a pony ride outfit that has a contract with a local zoo. The ponies worked in 4-day shifts, working either 1 shift on, 1 off or 1 on, 2 off. Not many school horses have this easy a schedule! On shift, ponies worked a maximum of 4h a day; when they were not working, they were turned out in a decent paddock with shelter. The ride didn't operate if it was too hot, or cold and rainy. There was a strict rider weight requirement for each pony -- kids had to step on the scale and be weighed before getting on a pony. My daughter quickly learned to be tactful but firm in saying "I'm sorry, our ponies are too small for you", regardless of tears . Although the ride ran for 8h a day, the girls worked at least 12 with feeding, grooming, picking the paddock, scrubbing water buckets, cleaning tack, night check -- the level of care and attention to detail was what you would expect at a good boarding barn. The ponies were without exception in good weight, had excellent vet and farrier care, had good-fitting tack -- if half the ponies and horses I know were as intelligently and conscientiously cared for as those ponies, I'd be happy. Walking in endless circles can't be a very stimulating job, but the ponies were all very loved-on. All the girls who worked for the pony-ride owner loved her -- she was a taskmaster but kind and fair, and my daughter learned a LOT about horsemanship from her. Too bad not all pony rides are like this, but there are a few
          I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Hippolyta, at Christmas we camped at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, and I was impressed with the pony rides there. The horses were obviously older, but their feet were in good shape, the tack properly fitted, and they were hand led around the property rather than just walking a track. We also had to sign a release, and the boys had to wear helmets.

            Obligatory pic of my boys on the leadline ride at Rancho Oso

            And another! Makes me want to get my oldest back in the saddle

            No, they aren't all disasters. I'm hoping what I saw wasn't as bad as it may have initially seemed. It was obvious they have a very large string, so the ponies are rotated to ease the burden, and the grounds, barn, and paddock area were decent. The tack was a mess, but it's just the ponies themselves were breaking my heart. One was horribly lame with a knee like a softball; another seemed horribly painful in their back end. GAH.

            I need to go hug our opinionated furball of a pony.
            SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
            CP Trilogy 2002-2015
            My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

            Comment


            • #7
              I worked at a trail barn/pony ride outfit that took excellent care of their horses. All of their saddles were well fitting and everyone was fat and shiny. Anyone who was so much as short strided was pulled from the line and given a week off. They fed high quality feed and it showed. The horses worked hard but were rotated and would get 1 day off a week and 1 week off every 2 months. They would be trailered off the farm to another farm with big fields for their "time off".

              Their lives weren't easy but they had it better than most trail string horses I've seen. Their turnouts were small but that was no fault of the current owners of the facility. Here are some pics of the horses.

              https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot..._7445590_n.jpg
              https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...950_5042_n.jpg
              https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphot...950_8302_n.jpg
              Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
              My equine soulmate
              Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

              Comment


              • #8
                Good to know there are some out there.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've gotten four of my horses off of some form of hack line, and worked in a barn that ran one. There's a trick to this that most folks overlook.

                  If the horses all looked fat and happy, and the facility looks like a million bucks, chances are good that most folks will not be motivated to buy the horse off the hack line and give him a better home. They will leave him right where he is. Not so good for horse sales, which is also part of the hack line equation. So, if you have a good moral compass, you keep the horse in good feed, health and care (including feet), but leave the place and their tack looking just shabby enough that folks think, 'Oh, that poor horse. He needs to come home,' and then they buy him. I would know this, as I placed 14 horses in good homes the last summer I worked in such a barn. They were all in good condition and weight, with good vet and farrier care, but the place was a shambles (safely so, though), and I deliberately left it that way so the horses would move on to better homes. Mission Accomplished!
                  Last edited by Chief2; Feb. 18, 2013, 08:39 AM. Reason: spelling
                  "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein

                  http://s1098.photobucket.com/albums/...2011%20Photos/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Anyone remember the Peeskill Dude Ranch? That was a house of horrors for those horses. Crap food, cement stall floors, poorly fitting saddles - all of them had open sores. They'd bring some new horses in and they immediately would start losing weight. The saddest thing I remember was one old horse broke his leg out in the "turnout" and they left him all night in the middle of the aisleway because they were too busy to take care of him. I think the law eventually closed them due to mistreatment.
                    Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Kentucky Horse Park has a pony ride setup. We didn't get too close, we were there for Pony Club Festival a couple of years ago. I deliberately avoided getting too close, as my daughter rides mounted games, and I knew she would want to take home an extra pony. They certainly didn't look mistreated, but I can't say they looked overly happy either. At least they weren't on a hot walker type setup such as I've seen at fairs.
                      blogging at HN: http://www.horsenation.com/
                      check out my writing: http://jeseymour.com
                      Just out: http://www.barkingrainpress.org/dd-p...ead-poisoning/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The one around here is decent. It was hit and miss when we went to Rocky Mountain National Park to ride, though.
                        “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                        St. Padre Pio

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          some are good, some are bad.....just like every other aspect of horse business - lesson farms, boarding, training, showing, etc etc etc...
                          Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                          Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The ones that terrify me are the ones where the horses are completely enclosed in a metal hotwalker type contraption, or where they strap the kids on with seatbelts or ties. Yikes

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lauruffian View Post
                              Hippolyta, at Christmas we camped at Rancho Oso in Santa Barbara, and I was impressed with the pony rides there. The horses were obviously older, but their feet were in good shape, the tack properly fitted, and they were hand led around the property rather than just walking a track. We also had to sign a release, and the boys had to wear helmets.

                              Obligatory pic of my boys on the leadline ride at Rancho Oso

                              And another! Makes me want to get my oldest back in the saddle

                              No, they aren't all disasters. I'm hoping what I saw wasn't as bad as it may have initially seemed. It was obvious they have a very large string, so the ponies are rotated to ease the burden, and the grounds, barn, and paddock area were decent. The tack was a mess, but it's just the ponies themselves were breaking my heart. One was horribly lame with a knee like a softball; another seemed horribly painful in their back end. GAH.

                              I need to go hug our opinionated furball of a pony.
                              Rancho Oso is still there!? I remember many years ago going there for a weekend camping ride up into the mountains. What a wonderful time that was! They gave me a great appy to ride with the best name...Hemmroid! Yes that really was his name! What a beautiful area that was!
                              "You are under arrest for operating your mouth under the influence of
                              ignorance!" Officer Beck

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                                Has anyone ever seen a public riding facility that wasn't at least semi-derelict? I ask this as an honest question. I know it isn't the same as keeping a hobby or a training barn & money may be tight, but I have never seen one that didn't make me cringe.
                                There is a riding program at the public park in a neighboring city. I have no idea about the quality of instruction but the facility is very well maintained and the horses all look very well cared for... I don't know if this is technically a public facility in the way you meant though... As in you can't waltz in a pay for an hour ride or whatever, you have to sign up for the program through the parks department.

                                http://www.freewebs.com/fmpc/

                                I would agree in general that more public facilities and pony ride operations tend to be on badly run end of the spectrum in my experiences. I don't know why... Maybe income isn't as stable at a training operation? Tends to attract more under-qualified yahoos than a serious show/riding facility? Lord knows there are plenty of "serious trainers" out there who would fall in the latter category though and they tend to be less visible to the public so just as many may be bad.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BansheeBreeze View Post
                                  The ones that terrify me are the ones where the horses are completely enclosed in a metal hotwalker type contraption, or where they strap the kids on with seatbelts or ties. Yikes
                                  I've seen this for sheep! At a yarn/wool farm in central VA.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    We went to Glacier National Park this summer and I was very unimpressed with one of their trail ride outfitters. The horses were tried in the sun for hours with no access to water. I asked one of the wranglers about the lack if water and he said they don't get any until after they are trailed home at night. :-(

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      We have some good outfits around here, all the ponies are fat and happy...

                                      Having said that - Am I the only one that laughs at seatbelts for kids on the pony rides? When did that trend start? They could get caught hanging under or on the side of the pony - that seems worse than falling off...seems kinda risky to me.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by SanJacMonument View Post
                                        We have some good outfits around here, all the ponies are fat and happy...

                                        Having said that - Am I the only one that laughs at seatbelts for kids on the pony rides? When did that trend start? They could get caught hanging under or on the side of the pony - that seems worse than falling off...seems kinda risky to me.
                                        I could see a not-too-savvy ride operator thinking that up as a way to make non-horsey parents think the ride is safer - it's easy for anyone to grasp that falling can be bad, it's harder to recognize the risks that come from being attached to the horse, and understand that those can be worse.

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