Right age to get a child her own pony

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6 September 2018
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My daughter is nearly 8 and she is desperate to get her own pony. She absolutely loves being around horses and when she isn?t around them she watches horse videos on You Tube, plays with Schleich horses and pretends she is a horse! Up until now she has been having riding lessons and been doing pony shares, which she loves.

I would really like to get my daughter her own pony but my husband doesn?t , he wants to wait until she is 11 as he feels that if she is older she could do more of the horse care herself.

We aren?t a horsey family but the pony would be kept at a livery yard with help from the owner.

So I wondered what age people thought was the best age to get a child a pony.
 

be positive

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I don't think there is really a best age as every family will be different, I have taught children some who had a pony from 3 or 4 to others who only started to ride at 11-12 and they tend to level out to an extent depending how keen they are, often the later starters are the ones that stick with it because they had to wait a bit longer.

Sometimes it depends on how they get on in the RS, my most recent clients now have their own pony because the RS lessons were not much use, they were losing confidence and not really making any progress, doing more riding and, although I should not say it about myself, some proper tuition has meant they have gained in confidence as well as improved their ability over the past 6 weeks but their handling skills are still not up to much, they are 7 and 10 and started riding just over 12 months ago in a good RS but a move meant they changed which was when it went downhill for them.

I think if I were you I would wait until next spring to start looking, if you are going to buy, it will mean the best time of year to get into a routine, get to know a pony and make the most of the good weather and long days, far easier to go into your first winter with a good few months under your belt than to buy at the start of the winter when even with the best will in the world it can be tough and not very rewarding, children need to know it is not all fun but they can get cold and find it difficult in bad weather, not the best time for your husband to be a first time owner if he sees is the worst side of ownership before the best, maybe if you hear of a perfect pony go and look but another 6 months of lessons would do no harm in persuading him it is a good idea.
 

Midlifecrisis

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I second be positive and pearlsasinger....it will be a family wide commitment in terms of time and money and it will impact in so many ways which you havent foreseen. Might be worth you attending a horse care course as I guess you will be doing the day to day care/handling.
 

meleeka

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I was 12 when I got my pony. I did to most things myself then. Things were different back then though and the yard was full with horsey kids and teenagers that my parents didn?t really get involved day to day. Why do you want her to have a pony? Sounds a silly question but the pleasure will largely offset by the money and stress they cause. They just aren?t like any other pet than can fit in with your lifestyle. Will it be on full livery? If so you may find lessons cheaper and just as worthwhile.
 

Pearlsasinger

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I don't think it is fair to either the pony or the child to expect the child to be able to do most of the day-to-day care. Carrying water buckets, for example, is hard physically. A novice child won't be able to notice the small changes that to an adult signify the need for intervention/vet. And the bottom line to me is that the responsibility for the well-being of both lies with the adult who bought the pony. How can you be sure that they are both safe if you are not there with them?
 

honetpot

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I don't think it is fair to either the pony or the child to expect the child to be able to do most of the day-to-day care. Carrying water buckets, for example, is hard physically. A novice child won't be able to notice the small changes that to an adult signify the need for intervention/vet. And the bottom line to me is that the responsibility for the well-being of both lies with the adult who bought the pony. How can you be sure that they are both safe if you are not there with them?
That's about it.
If you get your daughter any animal you have to be responsible for it, yes a child can help in its care but you will be the one that will have to supervise everything, so do you want an extra job?
My daughters used to share their pony with an older child who's parents had no interest. They did not buy her a horse until she was fourteen, which may seem harsh but by that age she could do most things herself and had learnt a lot riding other peoples and helping out.
 

milliepops

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I didn't think the OP read as though they were going to dump kid at the yard and saunter off. Plus if the YO is prepared to help then they have a source of support.

I was 10 when I got my first pony. I *did* do all the care myself, the yard was a short walk from home so in fact i was told that if they had to come down morning and evening to sort the pony out then she would be sold. My parents were not horsey but took good advice and I kept her on a farm where there was always an adult available who at least knew livestock, and people knew where I was. The only thing my parents did for the pony was administer the "Switch" pour on for her sweetitch as that was supposed to be handled with gloves etc :D

I was a horse nut at that age, well educated by my RS, very independent and joined the Pony Club soon after which continued my education. Not all 10 year olds are incapable of being responsible, I had previously had house pets that were entirely my job to look after so to the OP I would assess the child's level of competence and dedication in other areas and then follow BP's advice above :)
 

JFTD-WS

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I got my first horse at 11, and I did look after him myself - although my mother invested in him too, by paying for 5 day livery, so I wasn't mucking out before school, and only had to go and ride / feed etc in the evening after school (largely because there was nowhere in walking distance / public transport to keep him and my mother didn't want to drive me up there!), and also by doing horse care evening courses at the local equine college so she was able to make decent judgements about whether he was being properly cared for or not. I did end up with him on pure DIY while I was still at school, but I was a good bit older then.

I do agree with PaS that if you buy your child a horse, even if you leave them to do the donkey work, you are ultimately responsible for their welfare and you should take that seriously. I don't think any adult should be the legal owner of a horse without sufficient knowledge to assess whether the horse is being kept appropriately.
 

oldie48

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As others have said there is no right age but it is a huge committment and if you have a child who turns out to be very keen, then it does tend to take over. Neither I nor my husband was horsey but we were totally willing to back our "only" child with both time and what money we could afford. We bought her first pony when she was seven, having loaned a pony for 18 months and until she went to uni, most of our time and a lot of our spare money went on horses. she did a lot of the work from quite an early age, was keen to ride before or after school and never objected to getting up early to get to competitions and would spend most weekend evenings cleaning tack etc but I spent a lot of my time supporting her (which I loved and as a result we are very close). TBH I think buying a pony needs to be a family decision as it does impact on everyone in the family good luck with whatever you decide, fwiw I have never regretted one minute or one single pound that i've spent supporting my daughter even though she no longer rides (but I do).
 

equi

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Depends how keen she really is and how keen she stays. Does she enjoy just riding at the school and the idea of having her "own" pony? I knew many at riding school whos parents were able to buy them a pony and once they had said pony it was used as a bragging point until it was sold cause they lost interest. I didnt get a pony until about 12 and ive had one ever since (or like..6) but think very carefully about if you want to invest time and money into something your kid may loose interest in very quickly. Loaning or part loaning may be more appropriate because you will then see the level of commitment your little one is willing to put in and how much they want it. But for what its worth, when i was her age i was actually a horse. Not pretend, i was a horse.
 
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I got my first pony at 7 (non horsey family) but both mum and dad really helped out-particularly dad who took up riding and got his own when in his late 40s. dad kept his hand in until we got a whizzier pony when I was 13 and that went into livery. before that the ponies had mainly been kept at grass (keeping them in made my Exmoor way too fresh lol). Its a massive commitment in money and time and if she's supported and riding often I'd not rush into it quite yet if you arent both completely behind it.
 

Tarragon

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I "share" my older pony with an 11 year old little girl with a non-horsey family. We met by chance as I was out riding and she came up for a trial ride or two and that was that! This was nearly two years ago now. She was having lessons at a local riding school but really wanted to hack out. The pony is completely under my care and stays with me and the little girl just comes when she can, which is most weekends. Through me she was also introduced to a lovely lady who runs a livery yard and stays a morning to help out and sometimes gets a lesson. The arrangement is mutually beneficial; I get a huge amount of satisfaction of seeing how much she enjoys my pony and her parents contribute a small weekly amount to his care and she has a pony she can ride out when she can and is learning from me and the other lady all about what is involved in looking after a pony. Her parents are very keen for her to keep up all the other activities she does, such as gymnastics, swimming and Girl Guides, so riding really has to fit in around a fairly busy family life. I reckon that the crunch point will be when she is old enough to cycle the 3 miles to where I keep the pony and is no longer dependent on her parents for transport and when she is also old enough to start saying which of her many hobbies she actually wants to pursue!
 
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when they're old enough to muck out!
THIS ^
Believe me if they are keen enough they WILL carry those heavy water buckets by hook or by crook! Just as many of us did in our childhood pony owning days. If any kid wimps out of that, don't buy a pony for him or her!
 

splashgirl45

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i didnt get my own until i could afford to buy him myself and i was 21. my parents couldnt afford to buy and keep a pony so i worked at the RS as much as i could and i learnt so much from those years and my riding improved so i was asked to excercise the liveries horses during the week and 2 of them couldnt get there before dark so i got lots of riding and valuable experience. i would also say wait until spring and maybe try a share first to make sure the child is prepared to do the looking after as well as the riding...
 
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I was riding at the age of 4 properly but have been around horse since i was born. I think there's no right or wrong time to buy your child their first pony, personally it learnt me a lot having them as a child. It makes you appreciate taking care for animals is important, makes you pretty independent too along with a lot of other things! Perhaps getting a pony on loan/share might be the best first option to see if she is genuinely interested not only in riding but the care of a pony too.
 
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my girls were about 12 - that's when all the other 'activities' stopped and had time for the pony.
I paid for him to be turned out in the morning but they did all the other jobs after school . - yard was also on bus route and they had the independence of going on their own at the weekends.

looking back - they never complained about the weather or jobs and was definitely an investment around keeping them off the streets, responsibility, work ethic, and keeping them on the right path.

Older one is now in Army and the younger one - hopes to join the police.

But as others have said - its definitely a family lifestyle...
 

Chuckieee

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I got my first pony at 11 and I genuinely did EVERYTHING myself - heavy water buckets, lugging hay nets, bales and sacks of feed.

I mucked out before school and went to the yard after school, to ride and put pony to bed.

I loved it and I have amazing memories BUT I think that my back has struggled as a result of the heavy work that I did as a youngster. I probably did too much than I should have but my folks were not horsey and I was told that the moment, they ended up looking after the horse was the moment she would be sold. So be careful and do make sure you don't put too much pressure on your little one and be at hand when you're needed.
 

Tarragon

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Speaking to the old farmer who own the farm I keep my ponies on he said that in his opinion everyone should be made to work on a livestock farm for a year to make them better people. They learn about looking after dependent animals and put themselves second, how to work hard and in all weathers and the full cycle of life.
Wise words I think :)
 

rascal

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Our two grew up around horses, they had their first little Shetland when they were 3 and 7.
There is no right age, hubby and I had horses before the children came along, so could do the heavy stuff, and leave the girls with the rest, as they got older and stronger and moved on to bigger ponies and horses they did more.
As others have said, having a pony will affect a lot of other things.
 
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I was 13 nearly fourteen when i got my first horse and my family arent horsey. To start with she was kept on a farm and i had some help but i didnt really know what i was doing until i moved to a livery yard. Personally i longed for a horse from a young age but unless you are willing to muck in and help her i would wait a bit.
 
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I think your husband might be in for a shock, if he thinks an 11 yr old is going to be able to do much of the work by herself.
My six year old does most of the work herself. The only thing she cant do is carry the water and dump the muck. She even tries to shovel it onto the pile. She is perfectly capable of mucking, making a bed, filling hay nets, giving feed, washing water buckets, filling and using a wheelbarrow like a pro. She can also groom and is learning to pick feet. Not putting her for lessons for at least another year, as i feel that she needs to understand horses and groundwork before she starts properly learning to ride. lol Saying that she rides my 15.1 mare weekly.
 

Gemz66

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Our 5 year old has her own pony, well she kind of has 2 but one is being worked on before I will let her on her, I do most of the work (she has cystic fibrosis so stable/mucking out is out of the question) but she rides him out (on lead rein) grooms and gives him lots of loving, as she gets older she will do more and more, she takes lessons at a riding school near by and is doing really well demonstrating what she has learnt when we are out, how I only have one and she has 2 I donโ€™t know ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜†
 
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