Bucking pony ideas?

book_lover

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Hi all, I've posted a couple of times before and had great advice. We have a Dartmoor pony for our daughter on loan. Had him about 6 weeks now. When he first arrived, we had issues with him bucking going into trot. He had been out of work for 6 months, but owner advised fine to start off in trot. My daughter sat it out and pushed him on, when he realised that wasn't working he switched to rein snatching. This went on for a couple of weeks and was very wearing for her - we tried a daisy rein but he ripped the D rings off (they were frayed suggesting previous use of daisy or grass reins for previous kids!). This left us to deal with it with no gadgets (good), so we did - L got tough with him and pushed through and we made great progress. When ready she started cantering (the odd little buck going into the canter the first couple of times, then after, perfectly fine). During this good phase she was jumping and even went on a small hack with her friend. Then the bucking came back in canter. This time she had a fall, and since then the odd time she has asked for canter he has started the bucking again. Perhaps he knows he can win now. Her confidence is shaken I'm sorry to say She's happy as larry trotting him over poles and small jumps for now (but this pony, who we have seen photos of him jumping a meter just isn't trying - kicking the jumps over each time!). But ask her to canter and she says "no, no".

The saddler is coming today, after which I'll have his back and teeth checked too. An instructor is coming next weekend and she knows that partly she is to help with this issue. I thought perhaps it was fitness related as the problems started in trot, but now only in canter.... but not forgetting we had a few days of great canter work too. He is ridden 4 days out of 7 with a 3 day break mid-week. Today after saddler we will try lungeing him and see if there is anything we can spot, if he bucks, if this is a ridden issue only etc.

Many people have advised - some (who have seen him) say he is worth persevering with and we will get through it. Others say they won't tolerate a bucking pony for kids. When we suggest sending him home and looking for a more willing pony, L shouts "NO!" and tears start. They have a bond now on the ground and she doesn't want to lose him. People have suggested grass reins (would have to attach to girth as he has pulled off the D rings) or side reins for getting her confidence back in canter. Or to even break his habit. Someone else suggested that if it's a learnt behaviour (rather than having a pain-related cause), we should try the buck stopper to instantly break the habit as a new learned behaviour. Others say that is cruel...

I know in an ideal world we would send pony back and seek another, but we are all attached and want to give this pony a chance - we have spoken with past owners who say this is something he exhibits when coming back into work but then gets past it and is a diamond of a pony! The issue is getting him past the bucking behaviour and also helping L get her confidence back to try canter.

TIA for any thoughts. Will let you know outcome of saddler. His owner said she had had his back, teeth, saddle all done before he came to us hence why not having it done straight away.
 

MiJodsR2BlinkinTite

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Mmmm, the problem with little ponies is that (a) it COULD be pain, but also (b) it could be a naughty pony who's learnt how to dislodge his small riders.

The problem is that you and/or the owner have done everything you can to sort out the source of the issue. Think its a good idea to lunge him in canter to see if this IS a pain thing, or a behaviour thing.

But, and it IS a big but, at the end of the day this is not your pony and you could send a lot of good money after bad in an effort to sort it out. Yes your daughter is very fond of this pony, BUT the bottom line is that if he keeps bucking then one day he'll succeed in throwing her badly and then she'll start losing her nerve............. which would be a pity, as well as the fact she could be seriously injured.

Um, when you say the "saddler" is coming, it isn't a "saddler" you need, it is a "saddle FITTER". There is all the difference in the world, and it might just need a good saddle fitter to sort this pony's bucking out, as I'll bet a dollar to a pound that it IS pain-related somewhere along the line. Go onto the "Society of Master Saddlers" website and they will give you someone in your area - you need to look for the word "saddle fitter" not "saddler"!!! Also do bear in mind that there are a lot of people out there who call themselves "saddlers" or "saddle fitters" and they've got diddly squat qualifications and can do an awful lot of harm.

What I'm saying is that IF you're committed to keeping this pony, then you are going to have to spend some serious money on him; you may decide that basically you don't want the hassle or the expense and it might be best to send him back to the owners.

On the other hand, the daughter is fond of the pony, the arrangement suits you and the owner; and you just might overcome it, with skilled help as you're obviously going to do, which is good. Plus you're obviously doing everything you can to discern the reason for this; but bear in mind that you might have to spend an awful lot more money on a pony that isn't yours!!! - just to sort it out so that your daughter can ride it, when you could get her another pony which WOULD suit her far better.

I just wonder if there is a slightly bigger child around, or even a small adult???? Who could get up on this pony and get it cantering - and if necessary (and if you've eliminated pain issues) sort it out?? Sometimes ponies that buck do it to get away with it and often all it needs is a different rider on board who won't tolerate any nonsense and who's got a good firm seat to sort this issue out!!!
 

book_lover

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thanks for a FAB reply - I need to make a correction!! She was a saddle FITTER! And she was excellent.

Now, we have made some progress (but uncovered a potential can of worms, as you have highlighted above). Firstly, the saddle is appalling. This poor pony has worn a saddle that puts pressure on his spine as the gap between the pads underneath is too narrow by far. So a new saddle would be advised. The saddle fitter was great, and spent ages watching my daughter ride. She says she needs to develop more of an independent seat, that she is riding from her hands. So - focus of her training from now on. This she thinks explains the rein snatching, and his head has been held too high up. She instantly said she feels there is a problem with his back, probably as a result of this saddle. He is stiff in back legs and doesn't track up. Once she got my daughter to drop the reins and ride without them, he gradually put his head down and relaxed, and tracked up a lot better and his back legs looked less stiff. BUT there is still an underlying problem and he needs to be seen soon to have it checked. The livery daughter (age 14) got on, he tensed up and was bucking eventually, especially when asked for trot. He won't buck in trot now with my daughter only canter. Saddle fitter thinks it is all consistent with back pain (heavier rider = more quick to buck).

The next step is have his back seen, have his teeth checked. After that, if it is something that we can realistically work with we get him his new saddle (we have a big fat pad to use underneath til then but it won't solve the pressure problem entirely). If it's not something we can realistically work with - well :(

The saddle fitter seemed genuinely great with horses and said he is a genuine pony who does want to work. She thinks he could be great. But we have to be prepared that the back person may say he is better off not being ridden at all.
 

Shay

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Sounds like you are well on the way to sorting this out. At least he is on loan so if something does happen he can go back. Terrible for your daughter I know. But it is one of those things with ponies.

You don't say how old he is - but you might want to think about having him tested for cushings. One of the affects is a loss of fat along the back which results in a poor fitting saddle and pretty much the same behaviour you describe. Of course it could just be an ill fitting saddle - but if he is an older type speak to the vet about a blood test. You can usually get it free!
 

book_lover

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Shay that's a good idea, thank you.

The saddle though is terrible. The fitter said she basically wouldn't recommend it for any pony whatsoever - the gap I spoke of is too narrow for any pony. It's a made in China thing, or something. In my ignorance I thought it was ok as the owner sent it with him, saying she'd had it checked before we took him..... she wouldn't have done anything intentionally though as she adores him.
 
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