Horsemanship

Thinking Of Buying A Pony For Christmas?

Thinking Of Buying A Pony For Christmas?

Thinking of those wild screams of delight, that wonderful look on a child’s face when their dreams come true and all the fun that will occur while learning to ride a pony?
It all sounds so wonderful, and I am sure that there may be many parents out there right now contemplating whether or not to start the process of finding that perfect pony.

This could be the time to start, about twelve weeks out from Christmas, enough time to do your research and to start looking around.

But have you honestly thought this situation through?

Have you taken the time to consider all aspects of owning a pony, do you know how to look after one and do you understand the time that it will take each day to take care our four-legged friend.?
After all, there are no refunds on Boxing Day if this does not work out!
I am all for young children owning a pony, learning to ride and learning how to take care of an animal. Owning a pony can teach children respect, responsibility, assertiveness and leadership skills, something that I believe will stand them in good stead as they are growing up. Time with your pony is precious, and many a young rider knows what is important to them in their teenage years and to be honest those who find the love of horses at a young age would rather spend time with their horse than succumb to peer pressure or be mislead.

For those of you who may be contemplating purchasing a pony for the first time, here are a few points to consider, taking the time to do some research could help you make a more educated decision and one that will not be looked upon with regret down the track.

1. Do you have a budget?
Take some time to research what a well-educated pony will cost, look online or in some of the glossy magazines to give you an idea of what the current price will be. If you were looking for a particular breed, then you may be surprised that some ponies may cost more than others.

2. Where will you keep your pony?
Do you have space at home or will you need to agist your pony on someone else’s property? Doing some research now before you bring your pony home will alleviate any stress in looking for somewhere at the last minute. Keep as close to home as possible, as you will be making daily trips if you are not in a position to pay for full care of your pony.

3. Do you know how much the pony will cost to keep?
On average you will spend about $100.00 per week, and that will also depend on whether you have space at home to keep your pony or if you will need to agist on someone else’s’ property. It will also depend on the what you choose to feed your pony and how often. This amount does not include any veterinary bills that may arise from time to time.

4. Feet And Teeth Are Important
Your pony will need consistent care from professionals such as a farrier and a dentist. Unlike most pets, a pony’s feet and teeth keep growing and do require a management programme to keep them in good condition. Feet will need to be trimmed between four and six weeks and teeth will need to be checked annually.

5. Match The Pony To The Child
Regardless of what anyone says, matching the pony to the child is one of the most important aspects you will come across from a safety point of view. Don’t fall for the thought that a young pony and a young child are a good match; you want your first pony to be well educated and mature, anything over the age of eight would be more suitable for a beginner. Don’t fall for the concept of buying a pony because it needs to be rescued. There have been instances where professional horse trainers have not been able to rehabilitate these types of ponies and horses. They are not suitable for beginners and please stay away from ex-racehorses, your child is way too precious to be faced with a horse that needs to be re-trained after learning how to run in a straight line at speed.
My rule of thumb is if the child can lift the saddle onto the ponies back with ease, can brush the pony’s back and even see over the pony’s back then you are on the right track. Overmounting a child on a pony or horse that is too large could result in the child losing confidence, falling, being out of control and not wanting to continue riding through fear.

6. Don’t Look For A Certain Colour Or A Pretty Face
There are many pretty ponies and colours on offer and is hard not to resist a pretty face; however, we do need to be mindful of what is important.
An older educated pony is a much better acquisition than a pony who may not be suitable but is your child’s favourite colour or looks sweet.
I can guarantee, that any pony that comes home for Christmas will be truly loved and adored.

7. Get Some Professional Help
Buying a pony can be daunting if you are are looking to own your very first pony. I would highly recommend some professional advice to help you on your way, research equestrian professionals in your area and have a chat with them about your needs, they may know of a pony that may be suitable. Take the time that it takes to find your perfect pony so that there will be no disappointment to your child if you need to sell the pony because it is not a good match.

8. Get Veterinary Advice
Something that I must highly recommend. Please get a Veterinary Inspection before handing over the money to purchase your pony. I have known of many instances where injuries and health issues have not been detected before the purchase and have left new owners with devastating effects. Look at the cost as an investment rather than an expense. Always better to be safe than sorry and end up with a pony that cannot be enjoyed.

As a child, my parents finally succumbed to my constant requests to own a pony, and I have many fond memories of weekends and school holidays filled with hours of riding and taking care of my horse. For my parents and I, a lot of what we had to learn about owning a pony was trial and error, many mistakes had been made, and injuries occurred in the pursuit of understanding what was needed and what was the right thing to do.
I encourage you all to take the time, do the research, speak to professionals and gain some knowledge before taking on one of natures finest gifts – the horse.

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