Questions about Ponying

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Questions about Ponying

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  • How to pony a horse that likes to lag behind
  • Which side to lead horse when ponying

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    02-26-2009, 11:54 PM
Questions about Ponying

I have a few ponying questions...

1. Where is the 'happy medium' for a horse being ponies to be at? Let me give an example... When I pony another horse, I like for the horse I'm ponying to keep his nose right by my lower leg/stirrup. I get nervous with the horse lagging behind my leg, and it annoys me when the horse goes in front of my leg... Their nose has to be right beside my lower leg or stirrup. Where's the usual 'happy medium'? Or is there one?

2. What side is a horse supposed to be ponied on? Or is there a proper side? I like for the horse I'm ponying to be on my right side, because I hold the reins with my left hand and I can turn to the right to untangle said horse if something gets tangled up easier than I can turn to the left. So, is it just personal preference or is there an actual side?

3. What age do you teach a young horse to pony another horse? I rode Dakota and Gypsie today... ponied Dakota off of Gypsie for the first three miles, then turned around and decided to teach him how to pony another horse, so I rode Dakota and ponied Gypsie for the next four miles. Dakota did great (Gypsie was a bit of a problem)... but what age do you usually teach a young, green horse to pony another horse?

4. How do you teach an older horse to pony correctly? My mare knows ''how'' to pony, but she's a 'lead horse' when it comes to riding and is very competitive with other horses... She 'has' to be in the lead... When I pony her, I have to constantly hold her back and keep her on a very short line else she surges ahead of the horse she's being ponied from and she'll twist her head around to try and get more line to move ahead... If I don't let her get ahead, she drops back and seriously lags behind like, three feet behind the other horse and refuses to move faster or anything. Sometimes she does it correctly, the way I want her to with her head at my lower leg/stirrup, but most the time she either surges ahead (or tries to) or lags behind.
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    02-27-2009, 06:54 AM
Never heard this called "ponying" before - must be a US term.

As far as I know, there is no "proper" side for the led horse to be on, unless you are riding on the road, in which case it should be on the side away from the traffic (i.e. Left here in the UK and right for you over in the US).

I have also heard that you should use a bridle for the led horse, rather than a headcollar and leadrope, as some insurance companies will not cover you if the led horse is not wearing a bridle (whether on- or off-road).

I've never really though about "teaching" a horse to be "ponied". It's just something most people do without really thinking about it. They do it quite a lot at the stables I'm at in order to transfer horses around different fields when required, and they just try to pair horses which have similar paces.

Don't know if that helps any....
    02-27-2009, 09:44 AM
Typically their head should be within the range you mentioned. Too far ahead is asking for a tangle, and too far behind you will walk away with one arm longer than the other. Lol
I always always pony from both sides, as it gives me an opportunity to build my weak side, but also makes the ponied horse even. You will notice the pony horse will want to be on one side, or he'll want to keep you on a certain eye. By establishing both sides you will make him confident to both eyes.
If they are constantly trying to get too far ahead, you must bonk the lead rope until they respond and back off. Repetition fixes that one.
If they lag behind, I'd suggest going back into a round pen or an arena to work on the lightness of the horse being ponied. Have the ponied horse in the middle, and have your horse walk in small circles, having the lead rope taught like you are asking it to hurry up his feet. Continue to do this until you feel a give, then give the lead rope and allow your horse a little bigger of a circle. If he lags behind again, close the cicle, pressure on the lead rope until he hurries his feet, then release. Once he understands that a tight rope means walk faster or even trot, you're good to go. I wouldn't hit the trails until the horse I am ponying is light and with me, or else you can get into trouble.
Another way is have someone ride behind you, and if your horse lags, put pressure on the lead rope and have your friend shoo him forwards. He'll learn that way, and it won't be that he will only respond if a horse is behind him, he will learn to understand.
Typically I wouldn't pony a green horse with a green horse. Ponying is meant to give the horse being ponied a stable, confident leader and often green horses just can't give what you need. It can teach them naughty habits,& it can make them more aggitated than needed. Remember that green horses out on the trail are supposed to have fun, pleasant, easy rides until they're confident and willing. It doesn't matter the age, so long as the riding horse is responsive, calm, & obedient.
With your mare she just has to find her place of peace. So make it extremely clear where she needs to be. Get after her when she wants to move ahead, and if you have the room to make a circle if she lags behind, get after her that way. The only place where she gets a piece of mind is at your stirrup. :)
Try also not to constantly hold her back. Have the rope loose unless she surged forward, and then bonk her rope. Having a nagging pressure on her head will allow her to push into the pressure and continue on her merry way. :)
Hope that helps! Good for you to get out there and do that! Ponying is a wonderful tool.
    02-27-2009, 01:15 PM
Thanks for the info, it's really helpful.

It was pointed out to me on another forum that since my mare is the 'lead mare' in our herd, she's by default the leader and is always the lead horse when riding, so it may be that it's not that she doersn't know how to pony, but that she sees herself as dominant over the other horse and as such wants to be in the frint like she's 'supposed' to be.
    02-27-2009, 10:12 PM
I like to keep them at my hip, but that's just a comfortable place for me. The young ones will tend to want to lag a little when they come upon something uncomfortable, or want to get ahead at the trot or lope, but they learn. There are times when I'm ok with them lagging a little on a nice, easy walk as long as they catch up when you call for them, but I don't let them get ahead, since it's much harder to keep control, if you need it.
I'll work them on both sides, too. I think it's just good for them to get used to being on whatever side you want them on.
I agree with koomy56 on not wanting to try and use a green horse as a pony horse. I started to teach our 6 yr old mare as a pony horse when she was 4, but she had been ridden and ponied a lot. She does a good job, but is obviously not as confident as our 14 yr old lead mare yet, and when ponying a very young horse, you really want to have a pony horse that's very responsive and effortless to ride so you can concentrate on the young one and react quickly.
A lot of lead horses don't like to be led, not just while ponied, but on the trail, too, so that's not unusual. I would treat her just like a young one, and work on having her where you want her.
Just keep working's worth it...a good, experienced pony horse is worth it's weight in gold.
    02-27-2009, 11:11 PM
Thanks for the info.
I really think that my young horse is the best to 'train' my mare to pony because they're very buddy-buddy (though neither are buddy sour or anything, they just get along very well) and won't kick, bite, or do anything to her and vice versa, they don't even pin ears at each other in the pasture and will share feed pans and everything with each other... my gelding can rub up on my mare and everything and her do the same to him and there's no problem...

Plus, odd as it sounds, I trust my gelding (who is, I admit, green and young) just as much as I trust my mare, if not more. He's sensible, calm in some of the most... 'delicate and extreme' circumstances, and is quite solid undersaddle and has a good mind.

(and my two horses are the only two I ride...)

I don't pony very often, but I do like my horses to be trained to pony and be ponied.
    02-28-2009, 07:35 AM
Originally Posted by Britt    
....because they're very buddy-buddy (though neither are buddy sour or anything, they just get along very well) and won't kick, bite, or do anything to her and vice versa, they don't even pin ears at each other in the pasture and will share feed pans and everything with each other... my gelding can rub up on my mare and everything and her do the same to him and there's no problem...
I think you're all set. When I started ponying years back, our breeder/trainer friends down the road told us that if your horses will behave when working next to each other, you're already 90% done since so many horses have a hard time tolerating another horse so close, and if they pony well together, you can teach them to drive together if you're ever interested.

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