New child's pony - would you return?

Bucketlist

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I'm desperate for some impartial advice. I bought my son what I hoped would be a great child's pony. She's a young pony (5) but seemed very laid back at the viewings and rode beautifully. Since she arrived, she's tried it on a but on the ground, but seems to have calmed down and bonded with me and my son. We've taken it slow with things but my son has ridden her several times in the school and all has been fine. We're yet to go hacking or anything but in the school she's been ok. However, I tried to lunge her today and she's reared many times, come off the circle and kicked her front legs at me. I'm not convinced she's been lunged before as she seemed pretty clueless, but it made me wonder whether she has an aggressive side and if I should return her? I don't know whether it was the lunging that caused it or the whip. Im just concerned that she may have issues from her past (maybe relating to the whip) and scared she may go berserk if my son rides with a whip or doing something else in future? He's only 8 so don't want to test the pony with him on board.

I bought this pony from a dealer and have a few days of warranty left to return if not suitable. I didn't ask whether the pony was ok at being lunged (asked every other question and viewed her doing everything we wanted to do with her). However we were told she was quiet, well mannered at all times and a perfect first pony for a child. If you were in my position, would you return her? I could lunge her again a few times to see if she changes but don't want to reinforce or encourage this behaviour. I also don't want to seem unreasonable returning a pony that appears good just because of this if it seems insignificant. I would like to be able to lunge her though in order to keep her fit on the days my son can't ride or for someone to do it while we're on holiday.

We've never owned a horse before and although I've worked hard to learn how the care for one, I'm doubting myself now and not sure what to do. My son will be sad to lose her so don't want to return unnecessarily but this behaviour has really concerned me now and my sons safety is paramount. Any advice would be greatly appreciated before my warranty expires next week.
 

KP nut

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Dec 22, 2008
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It's very hard to say without seeing the pony, but from what you say it sounds like she was freaked out by the lines and the whip, felt that you were a threat to her, and felt the need to defend herself.

Can you touch her all over her body with your hands?
Can you pick up all her feet?
Can you hold a whip near her, wave it around, and touch her all over her body with it?
Can you attach lines to her and let them touch her legs?
Can you wave a lunge whip around near her?
Can you lead her and back her up on a loose lead rope?

If she has a problem with whip and lunge lines you should be able to find that out, and desensitize her gradually and go back to basics with groundwork so she learns what lungeing means.

If she is fine with all the above then it seems more likely her behaviour was an evasion which would worry me more than a young pony feeling stressed and unsure.

Or there is just the possibility she was playing? My pony Oscar views the lunge as permission to go completely bananas. He leaps, bucks, farts and behaves in a way he would never dream of behaving under saddle or in hand.
 

Em 1

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Aug 18, 2001
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Oh it's difficult when you've started to bond and then doubts start creeping in, particularly when your child is involved.

Just a few thoughts came to mind: could you ring the dealer and ask about the lunging? I wouldn't make a big deal out of it or mention the rearing at this stage but just ask about her experience and whether she was used to a lunging cavesson/whip etc and see what they say. If you're not sure whether it could be linked to inexperience, could you ditch the whip and start by walking her on a lunge line but as if you were leading her and then slowly increase the distance between you just to see what she did. Obviously keep yourself safe and if there is any chance of her rearing or kicking and hurting you then ignore this idea!

Finally, you still have a week so do you have a riding instructor you know or trust who could come out and lunge, maybe ride (how big is she?) and advise you? Overall though, I would go with your gut instinct and trust how you feel deep down.
 
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tikkitti

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We have a welsh A who is my 7 year old daughters pony, the pony is 7 too which tbh is younger than I'd normally buy for a novice but the pony and my daughter love each other to bits and we got her via someone we knew as the previous younger child owner had struggled with her. IMO she is a gem of a pony forward in walk and trot but needs a little kick to go into canter, she has sweetitch but that's a small price to pay for such a canny pony. However and it's a big however if you throw a rug at her, clip her or if she's having her teeth done she has been known rear, not small neigh on vertical:eek: The pony however has never put a foot wrong with my daughter, she does shy a little but is a star and has even caught her when she's nearly fallen! What I'm trying to say is a pony under saddle can be completely different to a pony on the lunge etc. x
 

Mary Poppins

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A 5 year old has lots to learn and you need to allow for the inevitable 'tantrums' that will occur when she either doesn't understand what you are asking, cannot physically do what you want, or simply says no. Lunging is very hard work for a pony, and if she hasn't been taught how to do it she may have been confused or scared.

I think that if you are expecting this pony to be perfectly behaved in all situations, then a 5 year old is not for you. I would also be concerned that her evasion of choice is to rear. If she has done this on the lunge, you cannot guarantee that she won't do it with your child on board. The dealer will of course say that this pony is suitable for a child, they want to sell her to you. But in all honesty, if I were you (and I have a 6 year old son myself) I would return the pony. With all due respect, you or your child do not sound experienced enough to teach a baby, and that is what this pony is. There are older 'been there and got a t shirt' ponies looking for homes to teach young novice children to ride. In my opinion, this pony would be suited to a more experienced home, and you would be better off with an older schoolmaster who will be far more predictable.
 

tikkitti

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Another thing I'd say is as said above if you haven't already enlist the help of a ri to look over the pony and maybe try lunging it before taking it back. It's worth his/her opinion if your sons already bonded with the said pony. Is the pony living in, out or both? Many kids ponies benefit from a small adult or capable teen to hop onboard once every so often and smooth out any bad habits and keep schooled even if the pony is a quiet type. x
 

OwnedbyChanter

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Five is a very young horse. some can be amazing and never put a hoof wrong other amazing for a while get hoof under table go wild but with firm handling come out the other side amazing. others don't.

your handling of this young horse has to be constant and firm setting the boundies now.
my now eight year old has always exploded on the lunge stops stands and rears bucks and broncs. after a while he settles to nice work. to be honest I rarely lunge I would rather ride.

also be careful of lunging to much. you could end up with a very fit pony that you son is only riding for half an hour a time that wants to go.
 

tikkitti

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I agree generally I think ponies 10+ are more suited as first ponies and I wouldn't discount a pony in it's late teens, these ponies are quite often worth their weight in gold and my friends little girl has a 26 year old pony, they do veteran classes together and always get placed, he is a super pony and still can step up a gear when needed but is equally happy pottering about and having fun. x
 
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newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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My thinking is why is this pony at a dealers. What's the story?

I tend to lean towards, the benefit of the doubt and a misunderstanding on both sides, initially. I know if I get a bit too in front of mine, if my language is off key she takes it as a sign to look at me, come off the circle or worst case scenario try and do one!
Some people don't lunge, so you might want to just run that by the dealer. If they don't know, you can teach her. As she is only five there will be things you need to teach, they won't have seen it all.
 

popularfurball

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Jul 18, 2005
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Did you try her off the lead rein?


Something else to consider is confidence, my little Shetland is a saint under saddle - on a lead rein. Off the lead rein he doesn't really understand (he stands still and doesn't move!) and lunging he hates - he doesn't understand why I want to send him away. On the other hand, my welsh a wont lunge simply because she doesn't like being told what to do - she does everything you describe. It's hard to say why, but you are right to be wary with your son being the rider.

Do you have any small friends who could jump on board?
 

tikkitti

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Surely though the bottom line is every horse/pony has the potential to buck, rear, bronc etc but unless it's displayed that sort of behaviour under saddle it's totally unfair to say it could, would or might. As a horse/pony is a animal, trust is built up over time, some ponies and I've had and met a few that are saints for little jockeys yet still have a cheeky side. I really would speak to a ri before making any decisions. x
 

KP nut

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I've generally never really worried about a pony's age. I think temperament is far more important. You can be calm and level headed at 4 and a spooky silly stress head at 24.
 
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carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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I don't really see that you've any grounds to return her, and you could end up with something an awful lot worse! From what you say her only fault is that she doesn't lunge well - is that really such a big issue? You don't say how experienced you are at lunging, but it may partly be that you're sending out confusing messages.

My welsh D looks like a right firecracker on the lunge if he's allowed to & a whip in the wrong place can cause proper tantrums. However he can lunge perfectly nicely if he knows that's what's expected of him & he isn't remotely scared of the whip. He is also one of the safest ponies I've ever ridden, but if the first you saw of him was him being lunged by a novice or me allowing him to play on the lunge then you'd have to be a very trusting soul to get on him without seeing him ridden first!
 

Lissie

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I think you need to remember the pony is only 5 and you've not had her long. If it was me, I'd do as much as I could over the next few days, including hacking to see how she behaves. As said by other posters get a RI to have a look at her and see what they think. Do you know a competent lightweight rider who could ride pony with a whip, put it through it's paces to see what they think if your son isn't quite ready to do this yet. Do as much as possible until your time runs out.

One of my horses rears a lot on the lunge but never has under saddle. You can't use a whip with him when lunging as he'll basically go 0-60. My other horse is the opposite and quite lazy on the lunge but very forward going when ridden.
 
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Gimp

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personally I never lunge anyway, I hate it. Much prefer long reining. However I have worked with many different horses over the years and you do come across some that are complete idiots to lunge. It wouldnt put me of keeping the pony it sounds great in all other respects. She may simply of never lunged before. Something to work on with her for sure if you feel you really have to lunge.
 
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