After reading through this, I'm not surprised at the advice you got from the trainer, because I too was thinking that it sounds like for all intents and purposes the horse isn't broke. By that I mean that he doesn't know what basic aids are and to the extent that he may know them, he doesn't know he needs to listen unless he wants to.
Believe it or not, this isn't difficult to fix, but it won’t happen overnight. Basically, your daughter (with the help of a good trainer) needs to install the breaks, the power steering and the clutch. The horse needs to learn what a direct rein means, indirect rein, leg pressure (go vs laterals, etc). It sounds like that lesson she had was a good start!
If he is clever and Mattie is diligent and doesn’t get impatient or rush you’ll start to see results in a matter of weeks. Does that mean you’ll have a made pony at that point – no – but you should at least have basic (direct rein and leg) steering, a whoa, a working half-halt and the fundamentals of light contact in a training level frame a at a walk. From there, you can start to add some laterals as a way of teach in indirect, inside leg/outside rein, light contact at a trot and a stretch at the walk. The training will progress from there, probably at a pretty fast rate, once the horse has figured out the basics. You can probably be where she wants to be in a matter of 3-6 months. It’s amazing what having a common language can do to aid in the training of a horse. J
Mattie will need an instructor to help her with this, but if she is interested and willing, she’ll finish by having a great bond with a horse that she made herself and she’ll be able to do this with any horse she gets moving forward. If she doesn’t want to do it, you can send it for retraining, but Mattie will still have to learn all the cues the trainer teaches the horse, so don’t expect a fast fix. Unless all Mattie wants is a made pony she can play around with, or the pony has shown signs that it is dangerous, getting rid of the pony would seem unnecessary, especially if, as you say, you both love the pony. Far better to put time and effort into training - then at the very least, if the pony doesn’t work out long term, you can sell it for a decent price and buy something more in line with what Mattie wants – and hopefully this time, with the help of a trainer who can point you in a better direction.
P.S. I just realized that Mattie is 9 when I was thinking she was about 12 or so! That could make a big difference both in ability and patience! In that case, you might need a trainer to do this for you or have someone who can give your daughter a lesson, then supplement with one or two training rides a week if you don't want to send the horse off for training.
Last edited by PoohLP; 04-13-2011 at 10:38 AM.