Childs pony help

MummyEms

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Hello friends. We own a beautiful little welsh section a who we keep at home for my 2 young daughters (5 & 3years) she's 6 (the pony) and arrived extremely nervous of adults (definitely had bad experience) but kind and trusting of children. Now over the 5 months we've had her she's come on leaps and bounds with everything. Her attitude has changed and we have a lovely bond now. The girls lead her, groom her, pick out her feet, take her to ponyclub (they're both still on lead rein) and she's a little darling.
However she's very switched on and alert at all times and very occasionally will mildly spook . Not really an issue in itself but the problem is when my tiny daughters lose their balance she then Really worries and scoots sideways away from the side they've wobbled towards. Even on lead rein holding her head her body spins and then they're off. This has now happened a few times.

Im really after any ideas here??

I'm very experienced and they're very kind and very keen and we all love her lots!!
 

lindsay1993

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My 4 year old daughters Welsh A is a violent spooker. To the point where she spooked at a quad bike 3 fields away that she had plenty of time to assess, my daughter fell off and broke her arm. :-( She will spin and almost gallop on the spot and my daughter loses balance and falls off.

We have stuck to walking only whilst my daughter is on-board to give her more time to balance herself. She's improved massively and can now sit the odd buck the pony likes to chuck in when she gets excited.

I did seriously consider riding her myself as I feel it's more of an evasion type technique. Yes, she is frightened initially, then I think she plays on it to spin & try to go where she wants to go. But, I think I'm just too heavy for her as she's only 11.2hh.
She is a very old pony and has learnt all the tricks of the trade in her time. If she was young like yours is, then I would think about having a confident, reassuring rider get on her to give her some support.
 

Fiona

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Sounds a little bit like ours, but he has got better in the three years we have had him.

Child going off lead soon so bit worried :(

What things does he spook at?

Fiona
 

be positive

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I would spend time doing plenty of groundwork with the pony to build up her confidence generally, if she is an anxious type she will overreact and panic when things go wrong which is why she swings away when the little one wobbles, if you can find a really good small rider to school her a bit that would help get more experience under her belt as she is still very young and has no miles on the clock.
I would always have a grab handle on the front of the saddle and make sure the children hold it or know when to take hold so their hands stay down if they get wobbly, if you can get hold of the childs lower leg when the pony starts to move away, as long as it doesn't make her go faster, it may help them be more secure and give them time to stay on board, probably a few "successful" spooks without a resulting fall will help the pony get more confident as well as the child learning how to hold on to the strap and go with the movement sideways.
 

MummyEms

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Thank you for the very helpful replies.
I will see about an older child coming to ride her. She isn't even spooky as such it is just very occasionally the odd thing.
Anyhow I've ordered a bespoke calmer today recommended by a Horsey friend so that may help too. All your ideas are fab
 

welshd2013

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You could try doing some groundwork using unbalanced sandbags so that she can get used to the feeling of being unbalanced on top but also learns that nothing bad with happen even if she loses her load xx
 

MummyEms

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That's a good idea. Any ideas how I could strap it so or starts central then goes sideways but doesn't fall off?
 

FfionWinnie

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I'm afraid you've just described why Welsh As can often not be brilliant child's ponies. I would also put out your mind the idea she has been badly treated because she probably hasn't! I have a Welsh A from a top stud, know her entire history from birth and you would say the same about her. She definitely hasn't had a bad life and she has been very well handled she is just an over reactive idiot. If I put loads of work in, she appears to improve, if she is left to her own devices for a few months she will revert back to being over reactive again.

I bought better ponies for my small daughter and she will ride that one when she is old enough to not be put off by her.
 

tootsietoo

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I've had a section A and two section Bs and they all had a spook in them too, and they were all quite old. Perhaps there is work on the ground or with another rider that you can do to try to improve things, but I've always been of the view that the children's time with the ponies is too short (and too stressful for me when they were tiny!!) to be worrying about the ponies' problems. If you love the pony then you may well want to keep her until the children are more balanced and confident when they are, say, 8, but I promise you your life will be immeasurably easier and less stressful if you could find an older, steadier non-spooky first pony for the children to build their confidence and balance on. But I know that finding one of those is easier said than done!

Having said that, I've got a friend in pony club who has always bought fairly young and quite sharp ponies for her girls, and they have been on lead rein a lot, and they have fallen off a lot, but they are great little riders now and don't seem to be phased by their ponies, whereas my children (particularly older daughter) have been quite spoilt by having easy ponies and possibly aren't such good riders because of it!

I definitely agree with be positive about a handle or a neckstrap!
 

welshd2013

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I just use bailing twine :) I always start with even bags just slung over the saddle, then once she's happy with that put more sand in one than the other and wait until she's happy and so on, until eventually they over balance and slide off. When it happens and she spooks, don't respond at all, just keep talking to her without your voice changing at all and keep her walking, don't allow her to trot off but also don't try to prevent her from spooking, she may spin around to look at what's fallen off or she may just run so just leave her on a long rein. Once she's learned that nothing bad happens when a 'rider' becomes unseated you can then move on to quietly teach her to stand still when they become unbalanced but don't try to do that until she's happy with what's happening.

My opinions are very different to the others about welshys. They are my absolute favourite breeds from As to Ds. Unfortunately, the better bred they are the more screws they tend to have loose, simply because in Wales that's how they like them but it's never something that can't be de sensitised if you're patient and quiet. I've witnessed some horrific practices, from standing them still for hours with a live electric fence around them so that if they literally move an inch they get a shock, then they stand still but are always alert in the show ring, to having bags put over their head and bin lids banged around their ears, which is why lots of people hit the fences before they take them in, so that the horse doesn't know if it's going to get hit or not. They more they rear and jump around in the show ring, the more cheers they get so it's no wonder they have a reputation for having mental health issues! There's every chance she's been ill treated, but as you say, she's a lovely little pony and so once you overcome this the mutual trust bond will simply be stronger!

Good luck xx
 

MummyEms

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I just use bailing twine :) I always start with even bags just slung over the saddle, then once she's happy with that put more sand in one than the other and wait until she's happy and so on, until eventually they over balance and slide off. When it happens and she spooks, don't respond at all, just keep talking to her without your voice changing at all and keep her walking, don't allow her to trot off but also don't try to prevent her from spooking, she may spin around to look at what's fallen off or she may just run so just leave her on a long rein. Once she's learned that nothing bad happens when a 'rider' becomes unseated you can then move on to quietly teach her to stand still when they become unbalanced but don't try to do that until she's happy with what's happening.

My opinions are very different to the others about welshys. They are my absolute favourite breeds from As to Ds. Unfortunately, the better bred they are the more screws they tend to have loose, simply because in Wales that's how they like them but it's never something that can't be de sensitised if you're patient and quiet. I've witnessed some horrific practices, from standing them still for hours with a live electric fence around them so that if they literally move an inch they get a shock, then they stand still but are always alert in the show ring, to having bags put over their head and bin lids banged around their ears, which is why lots of people hit the fences before they take them in, so that the horse doesn't know if it's going to get hit or not. They more they rear and jump around in the show ring, the more cheers they get so it's no wonder they have a reputation for having mental health issues! There's every chance she's been ill treated, but as you say, she's a lovely little pony and so once you overcome this the mutual trust bond will simply be stronger!

Good luck xx

Thank you xx
 

MagicMelon

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I think Id try to de-spook her a bit, Ive been doing it with my sons pony who is only 5 (son nearly 4) although she doesnt seem to need it so far as her "spook" is to stand stock still which is the exact reaction I want thankfully. But I flapped things round her, put things on her back, make her walk under a clothes line of clothes (in my back garden!) etc. I think in your case if it were mine, I'd get an older (small!) rider to ride her and move about a little on her to try to recreate it, hopefully if she finds the rider doesnt fall off and gets used to the change of balance on her back then she might stop spooking.
 

Magister

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I feel your pain as I persevered for 4 years with a pony with a similar issue. Out of the blue he would violently spook and spin round to look at the imaginary monster and the child would fall off.
The tricky thing was that it wasn't frequent and he would be good for a few months and then do it. Even when led it was impossible to prevent and I would be quicker than most at reading a ponies body language.We double checked everything,teeth,saddle etc.
Eventually I said if he does it once more that's it and of course he did so I moved him on to a non riding home as a companion.
Pick your days and if the pony is 'on one' then maybe stay in a peaceful environment.
One thing I did do which saved a fall on numerous occasions was to loop a flash strap through the side of DDs body protector and I used it as a handle to stabilise her or at least slow the descent as holding onto her leg was like holding a bar of soap.Sadly some Welsh As are dappy as a box of frogs!.
I bought another Welsh A who is young but seems to have an amazingly sensible head on her shoulders- she'll look but not overreact. It has made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. I hadn't realised how stressful it is when you are on tenderhooks all the time waiting for them to do their party piece. I still use the body protector handle for my youngest and they have a strap to hold on to.
My best advice is to decide how long you will persevere. Give the pony a fair chance and plenty of work but if it isn't working find a safer pony.
 

MummyEms

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Thank you so much for the thoughts.
So yesterday we started her on a calmer. It seems quite ridiculous because she really is a chilled little thing most of the time anyway. But the safer the better hey!
We spent loads of time with her today and daisy rode her bareback. I didn't push for any real riding as realised I might be making it worse by keep saying let's ride her everyday.
They painted her feet and grazed her in hand whilst playing around and touching her all over and she was good as gold. We learnt points of the horses legs which they found just asfun as having a riding lesson. Think this may be the way forward to chilling both pony and children out.
They have a pony club rally again soon which they all loved last time.
Thank u so much again.
 
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