I experienced this myself with my first pony, and am seeing it now again with people I know who have just bought their first horse.
I'm one of the many people who, when buying a first pony, went to a dealer and bought the first thing I rode. She was lovely when I went to look at her, but a week after I took her home she started to show her true colours. First, she went through a bucking phase, when I eventually got through that, she began napping on hacks to the point where I just didn't bother anymore because I couldn't get her to go anywhere. She seemed to be schooling and jumping reasonably well, until I began to go out to shows and she refused every fence that was put in front of her. I tried hard with her, but anytime I thought I had overcome the problem, something happened that put us right back where we started. I got another pony on loan for a couple of months to build up my confidence and take a break from her, with the hope that when I started riding her again I could turn things around but to no avail. So a year and a half after buying, I gave in and realised it was time to get a new horse. However, the person who bought her off us ended up shipping her off to England to a sale because she had the same problems with her that I did - probably my fault, for letting her get away with it - and she couldn't sell her privately.
And now I'm watching history repeat itself with a neighbour who had bought a pony for her two daughters, who haven't even been taking lessons for a whole year yet. They've got a five year old, and he's a fantastic pony but not for a beginner. He's got an amazing jump, I've jumped him myself and he's literally point and go. But after trotting round in circles with beginner riders for so long, he's now getting fed up and has started the usual play-up tricks; when they ask him to circle he runs off in the other direction, throws his head down as if to buck before going into canter, randomly stops and spins round when going up the side of the arena. When I get on him, I can sort him out in minutes and have him going fine but the two girls - both younger than 12 - haven't got the confidence or experience. Being so young, I'm worried he's going to get a lot of bad habits and be ruined. His jumping talent is wasted as well, because he has the potential to go far. The owners are the determined type though, and seem to be set on persevering until they get him through. If they manage, he'll be fantastic for the girls when they start jumping, but if they don't it's going to be a case of 5* pony ruined.
There are only two emotions that belong in the saddle; one is a sense of humour and the other is patience.
- John Lyons