Stubborn pony - best way forward?

Keira 8888

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Cooey darlings!

Happy Friday! Hope you are all well.

Please may I ask for advice in regard to a stubborn pony! My daughter has a lovely loan pony now - a little forester who is built like a brick shit house - he is only 13.2h but very muscular - he is a very sweet thing but can plant and refuse to move.

My daughter is only 10 and prone to pre teen tantrums. She and her pony are as obnoxious as each other right now!

So the problem we have right now is….. if the pony doesn’t want to walk on he plants and refuses to move forward. I (as coach mum!) encourage her to relax, change direction, and keep his feet moving.

She is getting very annoyed with me when I give her advice and I feel it becomes a battle between us. I know the proper solution is to get a professional instructor in but I wanted to get a sense check first on what I have told her.

The pony is fine when hacking in the forest. Our problems begin when we are riding in our field. He naps and we are reduced to a stressful scene of Arabella flapping like a hen on crack and it all ends in tears.

So I guess my question is, how do you send a napping pony forward? If changing direction with leg yields doesn’t work, should it be a short sharp whop with the crop to back up the leg? If that doesn’t work - what next???

Thank you guys x
 

Meredith

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A suggestion from some one who doesn’t really know much about this problem but does the pony work well in a a school away from home?
I was taught years ago not to work in the field my horses lived in. I suppose the idea being work and play were separated.
Could it be he just doesn’t work in his ‘home’?
 

Julia0803

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Your description of your daughter made me laugh! Sorry!!

I didn’t have that problem with my son but similar in that he wouldn’t listen to what I was saying. When his instructor said pretty much the exact same thing he listened, and it was good advice. 🤦‍♀️ The only time we have had a full on row was when he was 10 (almost 18 now!) and he was wafting about and not being definitive in what he was asking from our naturally horizontal more whoah than go pony who was taking full advantage. I told him to back up his leg with his stick as pony was completely ignoring him and taking the pee, trundling along. He refused. There was a fair amount of shouting at each other, a lot of leg flapping and puffing and eventually resulted in him bursting into tears and wailing, ‘but he won’t love me anymore if I smack him!!!’ 🤣🤣
 

Julia0803

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Oh and actually to answer your question, in terms of napping we only had one or two minor incidents when teaching pony to hack alone- as a kids pony he’d always gone in a group/with a Walker/bike/pram etc.

I found that putting his nose by one of my toes and getting him to turn a tight circle or two worked really well.

I didn’t get cross or flap or smack (if you walloped him he slowly walked backwards), so it didn’t escalate the situation… but it just made what I was asking (going forward) the more comfortable and attractive option rather than right circles. So I’d circle twice and ask to go forward, if he said no then circle again.

Ocassionally I’d use it hacking if there was something really scary we needed to get past when we were alone. He knew the drill and we would only ever have to circle once. The lesson stuck.
 

Red-1

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What you are saying sounds fine, as long as the pony is comfortable and able to do the work...

However...

It is my experience that kids don't think mum and dad are to be listened to the same as a trainer.

I would at least have a trainer in to say (probably the same as you) what they think, then you can remind them of what the trainer says.

I had to do the same when teaching Mr Red, sometimes :p
 

Hepsibah

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My pony is a terrific, safe, steady hack. Safe as houses, the type who would try to put herself under you if you lost your balance. Try riding her in her field though and she balks, plants, and bucks. I just don't ride her in the field and we get along fine.
 

Griffin

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I would say that if he is happy hacking and you're sure there is no pain related reason for the planting, you are probably worth trying a different location for schooling in the first instance if you can e.g. an arena. I would also try to make schooling fun and interesting for both pony and rider e.g. put some poles on the floor to go over in walk or trot, some cones out to weave in and out of. I would also try a sympathetic instructor and if possible, perhaps get your daughter and pony to share a lesson with another young pair, it can help to mix things up a bit.
 

coblets

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Is this the same field that he's turned out in? If that's the case, I see why he's planting. And honestly I'd just stop schooling in the field, and try do more out hacking instead, or hire an arena away from home.

If not, at my old RS, we had one or two real bad planters. What we used to do as staff is send them forward, into trot or canter, the minute we got on and start 'working' before the actual warm up. Course, this worked because this was their signal that they didn't have a learner on their back, so were willing to move. But I think a horse who isn't keen on schooling/riding in a field is best dealt with by giving them more interesting exercises to do so there's a purpose to it all.
 

Gloi

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My old pony would tolerate being ridden in his field by a novice for about ten minutes. He would then squeal and gallop to the gate and refuse to do any more. I'd agree, work him on hack or box to an arena away from home.
 

The Fuzzy Furry

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You have some good advice above K 🙂
Just remember, your sprog at her age (used to be from about 13 or 14) thinks you know as much about the subject as a chocolate tea pot..... a 4 inch paint brush writing on a postage stamp .....etc...
I had to drag in coach/instructor friends to impart exactly the same as I was trying to give!
 

Upthecreek

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Honestly…… just get an instructor and she will hang off their every word. It’s an absolute waste of time trying to teach your own kids and sends your stress levels off the chart.

Hack in the forest and don’t ride in the field, especially if it’s the field the pony lives in. Find good instructor. If all else fails drink gin.
 

Winters100

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This thread brings back such bad memories that I am almost tempted to reach for the gin too.

Teaching our children was a nightmare. I am not sure who was worse - them as pupils or me as teacher. I used to honestly feel that I could happily give them a short sharp tap pf the whip if I heard once more "but s/he won't do it" or, and this is etched on my brain, "it's alright for you, everyone knows that horses are easier than ponies". At the time child in question was riding a lovely schoolmistress and I was riding a 5 year old TB.

The only time that I got a modicum of short lived respect was when I hopped on their ponies and showed them that said ponies would happily do as asked, but only if asked correctly.

It is funny that you post this now, as just a couple of days ago I was saying how sad it is that they have all lost interest in riding. These memories make me think 'Thank God they are not into horses!'
 

Peregrine Falcon

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Oh, I feel your pain, except that I have a hormonal I know it all 13yo son.

Easier to get an instructor rather than battle believe me.

In terms of the pony, don't ride him in the field when he lives, receipe for disaster. Foresters are intelligent ponies, he'll suss things out quickly.

If you would like any recommendations instructor wise let me know.

What breeding is he too?
 

Auslander

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Absolutely agree with everyone saying get an instructor in!
I'm an experienced, qualified instructor. About 15 years ago, I was teaching my son, on the lovely pony I had bought him. I said "If you don't do as you're told, you get off that pony, and you don't get back on until you're prepared to listen to me".
He got off, and has never got back on!

1929788_19796970729_1750_n.jpg
 

fidleyspromise

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My Forester was a pro at planting. I tried sitting it out, using whip, voice, turning her - nothing. I then had an instructor get me to use the reins on her shoulder and gently slap them down left and then right shoulder and after 2 days of doing this she stopped planting.
 

Midlifecrisis

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Nooo…don’t teach your own offspring…it makes for the most horrendous rows. Other mums and trainers at pony club would say the exact same thing as I would and daughter would take on board and follow others instructions whereas to me she would ignore and be vile (shudders at the memory).
 
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