Horses vs ponies, for kids.........??

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by emjay, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. emjay

    emjay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    I've been out of the horse loop for quite a few years now. I graduated from a horse program (2 years) in 1994. Owned a horse for 3 years after that and gifted her to a friend, (for numerous reasons) in 2002. So, it's been a while.
    We now own an acreage and have the chickens, ducks, dogs. I've always missed the horse aspect. My daughter took some riding lessons, loved it, but, I was a bit disappointed with some of the sessions and found that I would be better getting her her own, and me teaching her, as that is what I went to college for. I had found myself doing more of the teaching at the riding lessons then the young teacher, so Iknew the knowledge was still in the old noggin. [​IMG]
    I have found letters written by my daughter, she wants a horse from Santa. Obviously, that is not happening, me and her dad will be taking all the credit when she gets this gift !!!
    I have been doing some looking, some reading. some more reading , some more thinking.

    We want to get her this horse, but, then I would like to get a companion for it, preferably a mini or a mini donkey. I hear the mini donkeys are very easy keepers.
    Then I thought, well, maybe just got some mini horses and join a mini horse club ???

    I thought, what would she find more enjoyment in, she says she wants to ride, and I do know lots of kids really get into the riding , clubs, shows etc.

    Then I read peoples comments on how much $$$$$ horses are to keep
    and I wonder, is that because you are on the road showing them. I wonder, a person like me, who is just looking to get a horse to teach my young children to ride, for now, could the expense be that much,where it is the biggest thing others talk about. Hay, grains, wormer, vaccinations, feet, teeth etc . yes, I know these costs are there. One of my friends tells me she averages $2 per day per horse, another horse friend, makes it sound much worse. I would think there would be a range in these costs.

    But, is it really that much. Alot of people own horses and they are not all rich people, and of course if ever a vet emergency.

    But, what I ask, is it worth it?? for those of you who own horses, whether it be for pleasure, show, etc, could you imagine not having a horse in the paddock? For me, I miss it.
    I think I am just questioning things as it has been so long, I don't remember horse keeping to be that hard back when I had my mare.
    I guess I just want to make sure it will be the right thing and I don't want to fail the horse, I am my own worst critic.
  2. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    No, it isn't usually showing that makes horses an expensive pet. First, they're herd animals, so 'one horse' usually means two horses, at least, but the horse that's suitable for you isn't suitable for a beginner 7 year wouldn't do well with just one for both of you. Small ponies obviously eat less than big horses, but you will pay the same for vaccinations and shoeing. You will pay a little less for womer.

    Say you have your own barn and pasture and want to keep your ponies in a casual inexpensive way. You'll probably have to put up a dirt paddock to keep the ponies off the pasture. You'll have repair and maintenance for your buildings. You'll need to find or make storage area for hay and bedding. Hay and bedding is costly these days, though there are ways to save a bit on it. Your property tax will be higher if you put new construction on your property. You'll need to run electric and frost proof water line out to the barn, that costs something. You'll buy buckets, lead shanks, halters, possible a rain sheet, grooming equipment, tack, riding clothes and helmets for the children. Much of this, of course, is available used, and doesn't need to cost an arm and leg. You'll need to board your ponies if you get sick or go away for vacation. They'll have vaccines twice a year, and worming every eight weeks. Trims every six or eight weeks.

    Your fencing will cost something - mine cost far more than I would like. It's expensive. It very much needs to be very secure - people have had their animals removed by animal control if they escape a lot. One does NOT want to irritate one's neighbors. On the good side, ponies, if well fed and have each other for company, won't 'test' the fences like heavier bigger horses.

    There will be emergencies. Ponies get sick, hurt. It's wise to have an emergency fund set aside for such a problem, and/or buy animal health insurance.

    Just at a wild guess, I'd say it is still going to cost you a couple thousand a year just to pay for basic expenses, no showing.
    Of course your start up costs will be more - fences, putting stalls in to an old building, repairing an existing barn.

    Oh....if she stays interested in riding, that Mom Teaching Daughter might last til she's 11 or so! Beyond that....welll.....

    For a small child I would suggest you get two small ponies no taller at the withers than the child is tall. They can keep each other company, and you will have happier horses and fewer escapes out to the road and other (angry) neighbor's properties.

    I think it's really important for children to be around small ponies, that they can groom and care for more independently, and even after a time tack up and ride around on independently. For one thing, it's much further to fall off a horse or large pony. Falls from small ponies usually result in less injury and less fear. I don't feel they get much out of riding horses or large ponies at that age. To the contrary, the larger animals have a stride that literally pops those little kids right out of the saddle. So, if put on larger animals, they learn to 'clutch' and 'ride defensively', bad habits that stick with them for a long time.

    I feel the ponies should be very quiet, older animals, who have 'been there done that'. These older animals are often available for free. They generally are not registered, not purebreds, but most of them have a mixture of Shetland, Welsh and other similar small pony breeds. The so called 'Moor and Mountain' breeds that are the ancestry of most small ponies.

    But with these ponies, one must always keep in mind that they can get very, very sick if allowed to graze out in a grass pasture all day, or if provided with concentrated feed like pellets, sweet feed, or oats.

    In that way they can be very 'cheap to keep'. They typically do well on a small amount of average grass hay (2-3 flakes a day) and a vitamin-mineral supplement (that can be a salt-mineral block) and no concentrates.

    These ponies do require exercise - usually more frequent exercise than a child would give them, as children's interest and attention tends to wander at that age, and they usually aren't interested in riding the pony every day. It's often left up to the adult of the house to longe or drive the ponies for exercise, to be sure they aren't over-eating, and to keep a watch out all the time for forgetful little hands leaving gates out to pastures open.

    You might want to be prepared for the day the child loses interest in the pony - most children don't stay interested in riding. The parent having an interest like driving can really help. There's many an enthusiastic adult in the Pleasure Driving classes at the local shows, driving 'Kid Lost Interest'. A pony can be used for many different things.

    There's a saying - 'There are two kinds of ponies, those that have foundered, and those who are about to'. Typically, an older pony you might get, might have already foundered several times, and already be 'grass sensitive', so that even a little bit of grain or rich grass will cause a repeat case of founder.

    These ponies often do best when kept in a dirt paddock during the day and a stall or gated run in shed at night (stalled mostly to be sure they don't escape and start gorging on any nearby grass), with no grass at all. Some people muzzle them and put them out in the big grass pasture, but they usually are clever enough to get the muzzle off eventually, and give themselves a fatal overdose of that delicious green grass. They're especially vulnerable in spring when the grass is growing so fast and is extremely rich, but most are vulnerable to founder the year round.

    Ponies should be kept slim and fit with frequent exercise and controlled feeding. They should not look 'round' and 'roly poly'. If they are kept slim and fit, they can live into their thirties. Many of the healthy ponies in my area taught several generations of children to ride, going from one home to the next over the years.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  3. emjay

    emjay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    thankyou for the very informative reply welsummer chicks.

    I did have one fella email me about two mini horses, but, to me, they were way too small to teach an 8 year old on, cute they were. I have always wanted some minis, but, not for riding.

    I guess the only downfall of a pony, is for my sake, I kind of wanted a horse everyone could get on and enjoy.

    But if I could find some welsh x ponies, they would be of a size where I think my daughter could stay interested. as they would be tall enough that she would still need some effort to get on.
  4. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    Well things don't stay the same forever. What is two little ponies now might be your horse and a little pony companion in a few years. I'd suggest building two full size stalls, and hanging the buckets low - FOR
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    What about a horse for you and a pony for your daughter? You will both enjoy riding more if it is something you can do together.
  6. Hound

    Hound Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2010
    I don't see why one size couldn't fit all in this case. The OP isn't wanting to do Grand Prix dressage or event every other weekend. Obviously she's going to be accommodating of what her child needs (since it's her horse!), so the horse/pony might be slower or quieter than she'd choose for herself, but slow, quiet horses make great pleasure horses. I don't know how tall the OP is, but a stout 13.3 - 14.2hh or so may suit them both well. The daughter wouldn't outgrow it in a hurry, and it would be big enough for the OP to ride.

    That being said, I don't agree at all with keeping horses by themselves. In terms of purchase price it's cheaper to buy one good horse and one companion, but it costs the same to feed a companion as it does a 'usable' horse.
  7. emjay

    emjay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 6, 2009
    Quote:haha, I like that idea !!

    We already have a two stall open barn, one would be used for hay, one accessible for the horse/ponies.

    we have a riding ring, that is usually rocky dirt, horses haven't been on property for two years, so some grass has grown in.
    it will be fenced for cross rotational grazing three ways.
    we have a natural pond.
    It's not a large acreage, suitable for one horse, and a pony. The last owners had two horses and a pony. But, hubby isn't letting me have all the property. He likes his landscaping.
  8. chikky

    chikky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2009
    Glenmont, Ohio
    Growing up, I always had a horse or pony. My experience has been that little ponies are just a little moodier (snottier, grouchier, etc) than larger ponies or horses. I grew up around them, so didn't matter the size, falling off was scary and safety precautions applied to them all, big or little.

    At one time, I did the calculations as to the costs of keeping my long as the horses were healthy, they were less costly than the house animals (cats/dogs). We were able to let them eat pasture until very late fall - just doing hay and grain in the winter months. Kept up on hooves and such, but that was it.

    Have you thought about Haflingers? Beautiful, easy keepers and they vary in size (up to 60"). A larger pony would last a young lady for many years.

    I don't have any horses now, but had looked into Mules when we moved to our current location. According to my research, they are less expensive to keep, require less-quality hay and are very sensible and even-tempered. Might be worth a look.
  9. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    I didn't actually suggest what I suggested because I thought she would be doing Grand Prix Dressage or eventing every weekend. I suggested a small pony because I think children learn to ride and handle equines better if they have a first pony that is compatible with their own small size.

    There are riding styles in which tiny children are put on small or full size horses and they have a bias toward thinking that a small child is fine on a horse. I don't happen to agree.

    Part of that is because I prefer children be around smaller animals that they can control and deal with more independently. I don't want to lift them up on to the horse, I even prefer the child not even need to use a mounting block. I'd prefer the pony be small enough they can get on the pony by themselves. Then if they get off some place, they can easily get back on. That means a very small pony, in many cases. But that's my point exactly, I really prefer that. I want the pony to not be big enough to overpower the child.

    I like a child to have a small pony that they can soon brush, tack up and ride more independently on their own. I have no love for seeing very small children pushed along to show on a larger animal. I also feel larger ponies or horses cause children to ride 'defensively'. I feel they ride better in the long run, and enjoy it more, if they can have a small animal their size.

    As an example, my friend put her daughter on larger ponies, to start. She put her son on a 'made to order' tiny little welsh pony, age 28, that the little boy could get on without a mounting block. That pony taught every kid in the neighborhood to ride. He could get his legs way down around the pony's body, and he rode less defensively. He was more relaxed, and had a better position. The girl never was the rider the boy was. The boy rode much better and enjoyed it far, far more. I felt the girl could have been every bit of the rider the boy was.

    Others are entitled to their opinions and it would be good if the OP heard different opinions.

    I didn't know, though, that the OP might be able to get a horse and a pony. One possibility is that mom could get a large pony for herself and a little pony for her child, and the child could 'inherit' the bigger one when she outgrows the small pony. Large ponies tend to be very easy keepers and are very capable of carrying many adults.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  10. Hound

    Hound Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2010
    The issue with a pony too small for the OP to ride is that it may well soon learn how to give her daughter fits. This is why there are lots of 'rotten' small ponies. They seldom encounter someone small enough to ride them with the ability to make them do as they're told. Some ponies are great, some aren't. But if the OP can 'straighten it out' when needs be that is of course an advantage.

    As for being 'biased' against ponies, that is just a crock of crap. I don't recall suggesting putting the poor child on a 'tough, green large pony'. In some areas a good pony is simply very hard if not impossible to find, particularly when the OP can't try it out for herself. Yes it would be great if she could find that elusive perfect sized, perfectly behaved pony with perfect health and the perfect age, but she could do a lot worse than a good small horse. As with anything, it depends on the horse.

    Even with a pony we're talking about a 500lb+ animal. Of course it could overpower a child.

    ETA How old is the child anyway? Obviously if she's four it's a different scenario to if she's 8 or 10.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010

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