I have received inquiries from parents wondering how to buy a mount for their child.
Here are my suggestions:
1. If you can find a made pony that suits your child as well as your budget, buy it. There is a saying that "a good pony is an insurance policy for your child" - it's a good saying. If you can't find the perfect "made" pony, many people including myself, have purchased a young pony and brought it along themselves, but this takes a pony with a special combination of breeding and temperament to be successful. It also requires a parent who has riding experience unless you have a trainer you trust who can train it for you.
News! Summer 2011
2. Color preference should always be at the bottom of the list of musts. Remember you are buying a mount for your child not you. There are risks inherent in any sport and it's important to minimize those risks. How that animal suits their needs is your primary concern. Look past the color to the temperament, behavior and suitability of the pony. Be sure to buy a pony that comes from stock that are performers (in the discipline your child is interested in pursuing) not just "halter" shown ponies that look good but perhaps may not be trainable.
Three ponies from Glynmagic show up at the 2011 Upperville Horse & Colt Show for the Leadline Division! Below is Glynmagic Walkin on Sunshine and Samantha Manning.
Above is Glynmagic Nosegay (gray) with rider Nora Elliot and Glynmagic Silk Stockings with Madeleine on board. These two ponies are full sisters born 1 year apart reunited in Upperville, VA. Below is Lara Herger Warren leading Nora Elliott on Glynmagic Nosegay.
3. Try to find a pony that suits the size of your child. Most parents want to start out with a medium or a large pony thinking they won't have to trade up in size so often. The smaller the child the smaller the pony should be. A child will have much more fun on and be much more secure on a smaller animal. The more secure they feel the faster they will progress. Remember even a small pony is going to have an advantage of hundreds of pounds on your child and that's a considerable advantage. Also, the shorter the distance they have to fall the better. The small pony you buy today can always be sold to finance the medium pony of the future. A good rule of thumb - find a pony small enough that your child can groom and tack it up themselves. When you purchase that small pony tell your child that they are training the pony for the next child to enjoy when they move up to their next larger pony. Finally, children who ride a variety of mounts become better riders in the long run.
4. If you nor your child have ridden before and know nothing about the sport, find a reputable equine facility where you can take lessons and perhaps even lease a pony. Once you have gained experience and knowledge of the industry, you will be ready to buy a pony of your own and will be armed with the information you need to buy and take care of one. Also, you might learn to ride with your child so it becomes something you can do together.
5. Buy from someone you trust, this is a "buyer beware" industry. Look for breeders/trainers who train and sell ponies to people like yourself. If their ponies all go to professional handlers or other breeders it may be a sign that their ponies do not suit beginners. Look for breeders who are producing their stock from ponies that their children rode or that they are showing in performance not just halter or breed classes. If the breeder's children don't ride or never did they might be producing "halter ponies" not children's mounts. Having bought cars for my children on Ebay I found it most advisable to do a Google search on anyone I was thinking of purchasing a car from. Request references from the seller and check them. A little research may save you a lot of headaches.
6. Don't over mount your child. Sometimes children go in the ring with too much pony under them. If your child can ride the pony outside the arena without fear of the pony misbehaving and becoming a danger to your child, they and you will be much more comfortable. If the pony must be worked on a lunge line before a child can ride it it is either too hot a mount for the child or it is not getting enough turn out time and is spending too much time in a stall.
7. If the pony you purchase proves to be a bad match replace it. Don't wait until your child becomes disenchanted with riding to sell the pony and find a replacement. Remember we are the parents. It is our responsibility to look out for our child's welfare first and foremost regardless of how much they love the pony.
8. It costs as much to maintain a poor quality pony as it does to maintain a quality pony. The major cost in owning a pony is not the original cost of buying the pony but rather the cost of maintaining it.
9. Finding a trainer that is good with ponies and children is all important. Most parents should leave the child's training to the professional. I grew up riding and could have trained my children at least in their beginning stages of riding. However, children listen to us correcting and advising them since birth. It's refreshing for them to get instruction from others.