Picking a Pony for your Child

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceFriday 20 January 2012

When you have a horse-crazy youngster, it isn’t hard to come to the decision that they need their own pony to grow up with.  On the other hand, buying ponies isn’t quite the same as buying a horse.  After all, you may not be able to get on this pony to help school it, and pony trainers are few and far between.  So, what type of pony is best for your child?

First of all, you need to consider what size of pony you need.  A lot depends on the size of your child, and how quickly she is growing.  A small pony is great for a little one, but most kids will outgrow a small one very quickly.  Additionally, very few adults can get on a small pony, so any tune-ups will need to be done by an older child who can still fit the pony.

Medium ponies can be great options, both for young kids and for slightly older ones.  A medium pony can manage a lot more size and weight, so many adults can work with them as necessary.  Also, since many medium ponies are broader in build, they often take up more leg and can last a bit longer.

Large ponies are the most popular size, and to get a pony at the top end of the large range can be terribly difficult and expensive.  Many kids who would be comfortable on a large pony would do equally well to get a small horse who is around 14.3-15hh.  Horses in this size range are a lot less expensive, and many child-friendly breeds tend to finish in this size range.

Next you need to consider the breed.  Welsh ponies are one of the most popular breeds, particularly in the show ring.  Section B Welshes are usually medium in size and can make super kid’s ponies.  Section A Welsh ponies are small ponies, but can be a bit fiery for little kids.  Be careful to choose a quiet natured pony rather than the flashiest one.

Shetlands are another popular pony breed.  Most Shetlands are small in size, and they can be rather “ponyish” at times, but they do make hardy ponies for many children.  For larger ponies, Connemaras are quite popular.  They do sometimes go oversized, but most stay in the large range.

Of course, many of the best ponies out there are crossbreds, or even grade.  The breed is nice to have, but if the pony is right, the papers don’t matter.

A good child’s pony should be kind and love children.  The pony may not behave as well for adults, but as soon as a kid is working with the pony, he should settle.  He should be easy to work with, but you should also have some available means to tune him up if he is misbehaving.

Of course, the pony should have the talent to do whatever you are expecting him to do with your child.  Ideally the pony should already be trained, as training can be difficult without the right sized trainer.  

One nice thing about ponies is that they tend to live a very long time.  While a young pony may be the best choice, you may also find that a pony over 20 is still more than capable of working with your child, even in the show ring.

Finally, don’t forget to look into leases of ponies.  Since kids grow so quickly, many pony owners decide to lease their old ponies rather than selling them.  That way you will not be stuck with a pony to sell later on, and will be able to get a bigger pony right away when your child needs one.

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