New Pony - turned into a project!

fishy

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We recently bought my daughter a pony. He came from a dealer with a good reputation and was sold as suitable for a child. He's a little 14hh Irish cob. His temperament on the ground is fab, he will let you do anything with him, loves to be groomed, will stand and be bathed etc. But he is very green.
He went fine when we tried him, in the school on the road and on the bridleways, but he has become very spooky and his response is to run away. My instructor has ridden him and said he is very green, needs to be treated as a baby etc. So the pony we were sold has turned into a project. Whilst I will relish the challenge, my daughter now has no pony and I have my own horse to ride so I don't really need a project. I'm not sure what to do. I have spoken to the dealer re him being very spooky. Any suggestions?
 

maree t

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You said that you had spoken to the dealer, what did they say? Are they prepared to swap if they have something more suitable?
Good luck
 

mole

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what do you feed him? is he out at grass all the time? id be checking his diet might be deficent in something like magnesium which will make him jumpy. is he hungry ie not getting enough ruffage - my Irish cob always gets moody and jumpy if she doesnt get enough to eat.

also if you havent had him that long he might just be settling down.

what did the dealer say about it?
 

GingerCat

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Some sensible questions above.

They do need time to settle down and are bound to be nervous at first (you don't say how long you have had him)

Have you changed his feed?...does he need any feed at all?
Is he getting enough exercise?
Is he fitter than he was when you got him?
Is your daughter nervous and passing her nerves on to him..a vicious circle :(

There are lots of questions you need to be asking to get to the bottom of his changed behaviour.

Because there must be some reason for him to change so much.

Good luck with him, I hope it all works out.
 

Dubsie

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I'd say it takes at least 6 months to a year for rider to bond with a new pony. I wonder if the new pony is a little nervous - new place new people new routes to go and likewise if your daughter is the same - new and much bigger(?) pony.

I expect this pony is looking for leadership here when ridden as well as on the ground - we have one like this, exacerbated by the fact they were chased by 2 big dogs on their first hack together. It's taken time, lessons and lots of pony club too, but my daughter can now ride him with enough confidence (and she is very nervous at times) that if he ever spooks at something - he snorts and jumps if something startles him - he no longer runs off but takes his confidence from her. Funnily he's never been a problem for me as I am a pathetic rider, but am way too laid back - and tell him off or laugh at him for spooking and so he has always been less spooky with me and doesn't do anything more than sheepish looks at me from the corner of his eye as if to say 'I 'm not scared!' when we pass anything dodgy - daughter used to say 'oh no we can't go down there he'll spook at that' and so he would. (there is another theory that my being heavier means he can't be bothered to take off with me:p!, but he is a very fit and strong pony so I don't think my weight is an issue!)

Is he fine if hacking with you on foot or on your horse? if so I'd explain to your daughter (am assuming she's young, apologies if not) that he is a herd animal and needs a strong leader to take his confidence from and explain if she can stay confident and follow your lead he will be far less likely to spook and run off, and the more confident she is with riding him the less he'll be frightened. Then, keeping to a short route or in the school start with her walking him in hand (as he's good on the ground), and then to her being led, then to riding behind or with another horse and then to going solo. This really worked for my daughter.
 

fishy

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Thank you for all your replies. They are fabulously positive and kind of reflect my view.

We have had him for 7 weeks, so I appreciate that he is still settling in. He is out during the day but in at night. He is fed haylage at night, and I have just started to give him a handful of quiet mix in order to get a bit of magic and some garlic in him. He gets a bit bothered by the flys and I thought he might need a bit of help settling in. He's not necessarily fitter than when we got him, but he was a bit underweight and he has put some weight on now. He's been fine with me, but I am a bit heavier than my daughter and a bit more laid back and confident. I have a spooky mare so it doesn't bother me too much. Unfortunately my daughter has come off him a couple of times when he's run off so it has knocked her confidence. The dealer made some suggestions re checking his teeth, back etc and trying a different bit but I'd already had that done and don't really want to change his bit unless its absolutely necessary (he's in an eggbutt snaffle). I wouldn't really like to send him back because I just think they'd try and give us another that would end up the same. As I said he's got a lovely temperament on the ground so I think I'd rather work with what we've got. My daughter is having lessons on him, and I'm schooling him a bit too. She hacks out with me on foot, either on her own or with a friend and their horse. I'm encouraging her to spend as much time "messing" with him, grooming him, taking him little walks, talking to him, lungeing him etc in order to build up a bond.
Again thank you for all your positive comments - I think we will keep him and work with what we've got.
 

attheponies

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Sounds to me you are doing everything right. It took time with each of my children to build a bond with a new pony, I walked miles with them over the years! I found that Pony Club is also great for giving kids confidence on a new pony.
 

mole

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i would feed hay instead of hayledge (my mare goes nut job on that stuff) its amazing the effect that stuff has to different horses and just use a little chaff (mollasses free) for vits and minerals - you never quite know whats in a mix. best to take it back to basics.

sounds like now he's put on a bit of weight he's feeling better too.

hope it works out for you
 

BlueCakes

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You say he has a lovely temperament and is kind and lets your daughter do anything with him, which is maybe why the dealer thought he was suitable for a child. Although the pony is green his kind nature is probably very suited to a child. I think it's maybe a miscommunication between yourself and the dealer, and that the pony is not ready made to go for your daughter to ride, but that he is instead of a kind forgiving nature that would be suitable for a novice, but that perhaps still needs to learn the ropes himself.

I think you should decide whether you have the time to teach this pony, because he could be fantastic, or whether you want to sell and get your daughter something that she can sit on and go by herself straight away.
 

maree t

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What does your daughter want to do?. My daughter is nervous and I have to be very careful with who she rides. Great if you can stick at it as it is early days still . Good luck. Is he less spooky in compay ? perhaps leave hacking on his own to you for now.
 

hollyandivy123

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Thank you for all your replies. They are fabulously positive and kind of reflect my view.

We have had him for 7 weeks, so I appreciate that he is still settling in. He is out during the day but in at night. He is fed haylage at night, and I have just started to give him a handful of quiet mix in order to get a bit of magic and some garlic in him. He gets a bit bothered by the flys and I thought he might need a bit of help settling in. He's not necessarily fitter than when we got him, but he was a bit underweight and he has put some weight on now. He's been fine with me, but I am a bit heavier than my daughter and a bit more laid back and confident. I have a spooky mare so it doesn't bother me too much. Unfortunately my daughter has come off him a couple of times when he's run off so it has knocked her confidence. The dealer made some suggestions re checking his teeth, back etc and trying a different bit but I'd already had that done and don't really want to change his bit unless its absolutely necessary (he's in an eggbutt snaffle). I wouldn't really like to send him back because I just think they'd try and give us another that would end up the same. As I said he's got a lovely temperament on the ground so I think I'd rather work with what we've got. My daughter is having lessons on him, and I'm schooling him a bit too. She hacks out with me on foot, either on her own or with a friend and their horse. I'm encouraging her to spend as much time "messing" with him, grooming him, taking him little walks, talking to him, lungeing him etc in order to build up a bond.
Again thank you for all your positive comments - I think we will keep him and work with what we've got.

but i would loose the haylage and put on hay, and just a bit of quite chaff for the supplements etc, these cobs can and so live on air.

i know you don't wish to change the bit, but if your daughter felt more confident that she had brakes and steerage etc, then she might relax and the will both work better as a team. maybe a pelham with roundings so one rein or a kimblewick, just as a stop gap, you can always mix and match school in the snaffle
 

Miss L Toe

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You don't mention age and experience of the pony, as an experience parent I am sure you took this in to consideration, and you would be aware that dealers buy and sell, they need to have a reasonable turnover, so unlikely they would keep one for months if they have a customer after two weeks, Good luck with your boy, but really he should not be p~~~ing off.
It might be better to stable him during the day when sugars in grass and flies are at their worse, soak hay or haylage, and it might pay to get a smaller adult to school him, sounds like he is as green as grass, and not confident in himself.
 
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fishy

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Thank you again for all your replies. I have had a good long chat with my instructor. We are going to keep him and work with what we have. We sadly don't have the option of turning him out at night, its days only on our livery yard, also hay is a bit of a rarity at the moment and so the yo only has haylage at the moment. I will put him on hay as soon as we get some. My daughter lunged him and did a bit of join up last night and then brought him back and groomed him and then we went for a little hack, with her riding and me walking at her side. He was an angel - and so was she. I made a big thing of telling her how well she'd done. I think it will just take time and patience. Thanks again :))
 

Kallibear

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How old is he? Did you have a vet confirm his age?

As a 'little skinny cob' from the dealers he's quite possibly only 3yrs old. He certainly sounds it. Many of his type are gentle, kind animals but that's often taken advantage off and they're sold as bombproof confidence-givers when actually they're only trying so hard to please yet such a baby inside.

His kind of horse will be worth his weight in gold once he's settled. He may turn out to be an exception but they usually settle into total saints (although sometimes a bit bulshy).

I'm glad you decided to keep him. Hopefully with just a bit of time he'll be the horse you intended.
 

brigantia

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Thank you for all your replies. They are fabulously positive and kind of reflect my view.

We have had him for 7 weeks, so I appreciate that he is still settling in. He is out during the day but in at night. He is fed haylage at night, and I have just started to give him a handful of quiet mix in order to get a bit of magic and some garlic in him. He gets a bit bothered by the flys and I thought he might need a bit of help settling in. He's not necessarily fitter than when we got him, but he was a bit underweight and he has put some weight on now. He's been fine with me, but I am a bit heavier than my daughter and a bit more laid back and confident. I have a spooky mare so it doesn't bother me too much. Unfortunately my daughter has come off him a couple of times when he's run off so it has knocked her confidence. The dealer made some suggestions re checking his teeth, back etc and trying a different bit but I'd already had that done and don't really want to change his bit unless its absolutely necessary (he's in an eggbutt snaffle). I wouldn't really like to send him back because I just think they'd try and give us another that would end up the same. As I said he's got a lovely temperament on the ground so I think I'd rather work with what we've got. My daughter is having lessons on him, and I'm schooling him a bit too. She hacks out with me on foot, either on her own or with a friend and their horse. I'm encouraging her to spend as much time "messing" with him, grooming him, taking him little walks, talking to him, lungeing him etc in order to build up a bond.
Again thank you for all your positive comments - I think we will keep him and work with what we've got.
OP, it sounds like both the horse and your daughter are very fortunate to have you looking after them! It's fabulous that you are so committed to this little horse and I'm sure your perseverence will pay off and your daughter's bond will only deepen with him.

I totally applaud you for not changing bits. I hate to see little kids riding green ponies in severe bits.

My only possible suggestion would be to consider moving to a yard where he could have overnight turn out. From my experience, that's better than any calmer for creating a very mellow horse. :)
 

fishy

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The pony is 7 and the vet has confirmed this. He is having his wolf teeth out today so I'll get a second opinion, but I think its about right. Sadly there are very few yards in my area that have overnight turnout and even fewer with all year turnout. Although we are lucky in that we have a little paddock we can turnout in for about an hour through the winter. My daughter rode him in the school last night and he was an angel - did everything that was asked of him (albeit not very much) just a bit of walk and trot. I think the calmer may be helping him a little now, and then hopefully my daughter will gain a little more confidence. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions.
 
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