Buying Children's Ponies
Buying Children’s Ponies
Buying a pony is a huge undertaking and getting it wrong can cause massive headaches. Over the years I have bought many ponies and got it wrong plenty of times, but I have also bought some really good ponies. I have also helped many families find ponies and it has given me huge pleasure to see many of them form a partnership and go on to great success.
My top tips are:
- Buy the best pony you can afford, they all cost the same to keep.
- Buy a pony with experience, don’t dismiss an older pony, they have so much to teach a child.
- Read the advert carefully and cynically! For example if it says it’s a bit quirky it’s probably going to have your child on the floor within 5 minutes!
- I would never buy a young/green “project” pony for a child, for two reasons – firstly young ponies need experienced riders to teach them the ropes (of course there are exceptions but in my experience it’s more likely to go wrong than right). Secondly the child’s years in Pony Club whizz by and you don’t want to spend a year or more bringing on a pony when they could be out and about doing things.
- It’s always better to buy a tried and tested Pony Club pony from a genuine Pony Club family who are similar to you in the way they ride and care for their ponies. Whilst there are plenty of good reputable dealers around, I personally would not buy a pony for a young child from a dealer or a professional producer. They will always have a rider better than your child and what seems like a perfect pony can quickly unravel when it is back home with you.
- Before you go to view, try and find out as much as you can. Google the pony and the child’s name, and trawl through social media. Find out which PC branch they are in. DC’s will give references but unless it’s miles away you would probably only ask for a reference after you have tried and like the pony. Get videos of the pony, I would be suspicious of a pony if there are no videos!
- Look at the pony’s competition record. If there are big gaps in the record ask why - it may have had a long-term injury.
- If possible, take someone knowledgeable with you, but not necessarily the first time you view it. I have been to see many ponies but I prefer not to go first time – they don’t need me to tell them if they like it or not, and if they don’t like it it’s a waste of my time.
- Listen to advice you are given, and to your child! They are the one who will have to ride it every day.
- Don’t be rushed into a decision. If it’s meant to be it will happen, it’s better to walk away if you are not sure - it’s better to wish you had bought a pony than wish you hadn’t!
When you go to see the pony here is a checklist of things to look out for:
- Always see the pony ridden first on the flat and over a fence before you put your child on. If you don’t like what you see, politely decline and tell them it’s not what you are looking for and you won’t waste any more of their time.
- Take videos of the owner and your child riding the pony – ask questions while you are filming so you can listen back to their answers.
- Where possible ask lots of questions of the child that is selling it, children are very black and white! And ask direct questions where you need a yes or no answer. For example “has he ever bucked?” rather than “does he buck?”.
- Watch carefully the way the rider rides – if it’s a steady pony does the rider need to use the whip or will the pony still go without?
- What bit do they use and why? Martingale needed?
- Make sure you see the pony in traffic and in as many situations as possible.
- Look at any papers/passport and check the description matches the pony and check the age on the papers (all papers).
- Will they let you have it on trial? Most won’t but it’s worth asking – having said that I would only take a pony on trial that I was pretty sure about. It’s very hard to send it back if you’re not 100% sure but it hasn’t done anything wrong.
- Will they put you in touch with the previous owners? They can be a useful reference.
- Can you talk to their vet? With their permission you can get their practice to do the vetting; if they won’t let you talk to them walk away.
Questions to consider asking, depending on your circumstances of course:
- Is the pony good and safe to hack, alone and in company?
- Is he good in traffic?
- Has he been to Pony Club?
- Has he been ridden in large group rides? How did he behave?
- Has he done gymkhana games and is he happy with the flags etc?
- SJ and XC?
- Does he need working regularly or can you leave him a couple of weeks and then pop your child straight on? If he needs working every day and your child is away at school he is probably not the pony for you.
- Will the pony go on straw or does he have to go on shavings?
- Does he need his hay soaked?
- Will he live out?
- Have you ever had the vet to the pony and if so why?
- Has the pony ever had any sign of lameness or laminitis however mild?
- Look at the feet - does the pony have rings around its feet? (laminitis rings get wider at the heel)
- Is the pony shod? If yes, has he ever been unshod? Good with farrier?
- Has he been regularly wormed and vaccinated?
- Good to catch and clip?
- Has he ever had mud fever?
- Has he ever had sweet itch?
- Are they happy for him to be vetted and is there any reason he might not pass?
- Will he lead off another horse?
- What is included in the price? (tack/rugs etc)
- Is he happy to go on a trailer or lorry?
- Will he stand on the lorry happily at events?
- How does he behave in big open spaces with lots of other ponies?