Teaching my pony to pony... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching my pony to pony...

I've always been kind of nervous to try this, and never have... but it seems so useful, and I could really use this skill, as I have three horses and only one me, so I need help!

How do I teach, firstly, a horse to be okay and steady about having another horse lead with it? (in other words, not to kick at said horse!) And then, how do I teach the second horse to be steady at being led? (iow. not wanting to tear my arm off)

I ride English, so I dont have that handy saddle horn to tie things onto. (But would you tie the horse onto the horn anyway?)

Also, how do I troubleshoot when something goes wrong? I.e. one horse shies, or whatever. Just let go? :)
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 05:04 PM
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I like to pony with my 12 foot rope so that i have room if the horse pulls back.
You would be surprised at how simple it actually is. Horses are typically calmer when they are following another or in company. I have ponied several foals and a horse on occasion who was known to be a bit jumpy under saddle but ponied like a dream.
If the second horse does pull back or spook, try and move your horse with him. For example, if #2 horse were to start backing up, turn your horse so he is facing the other and follow. This will help keep the slack in the rope.
If he starts to rush ahead, turn your horse away from him and pull him around in a circle until he's following again.

I know one of the annoying parts is when the horse on the rope wants to switch sides while leading. This is another reason it helps to have a longer rope if he doesn't necessarily like walking right next to your horse.
If the horse you are riding starts to get cranky, make sure you straighten him out with a pull on the reins or a squeeze with your heels to remind him he has to pay attention to you, not the horse behind him.
Again, my mare hates others riding up on her when we are on the trails, yet she is willing to pony a horse at her flanks no problem.

If you want to do some tests with your horse, make sure he handles ropes touching his hindquarters and legs. That's a big thing.

Also, just to say, i've ponied both english & western and if your horse leads well english is no problem. I use my western for young or stubborn horses and wrap the rope a few times around the horn to keep it from being pulled away. I don't actually tie it in a knot of any kind so that i can release it if needed.

"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly."
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 05:13 PM
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I think lilruffian covered it really well.

I just wanted to add that another place you want the horse you're ponying off of to be fine with the rope going is under the tail. The last time I ponied another horse off my Arab (who, of course, does everything with her tail up), I had a moment of panic when the horse being ponied decided to switch sides and the rope went under my mare's tail and got stuck there when she put her tail down because the rope was touching her (OMG!! lol).

Thankfully someone taught her well and she didn't panic or even spook but most horses would have at least spooked.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 05:22 PM
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Well, I've never heard that used as a verb before - I learn something every day!

Anyway, I used to lead my son's pony off my mare all the time as it's great for exercising the spare horse.

1 Be ON the quieter horse, and leading the less quiet horse (if there is a difference)

2 Put the horse that is to be led in a bridle the first time you go out, and attach a lunge line through the bit as if you were lungeing him. If both horses are super cool about this, after a few times out you might want to ditch the bridle and use a headcollar and leadrope.

3 I tend to hold the leadrope between my ring finger and little finger, and my rein between ring finger and middle finger. You will quickly learn to control them separately.

4 Put the ridden horse inbetween you and the traffic.

5 Remember to use verbal commands - the led horse won't know when you're going to stop/start/change the pace unless you do! I've forgotten this on more than one occasion - been nearly yanked out of my seat!

6 Use common sense

And has been said, this is easier than you think - horses like being together.

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #5 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 05:26 PM
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I never tie off. And I try to really avoid having the one ponied change sides. They learn with practice, like anything else.

Beyond what others have said, I will just encourage you to throw the rope if either of the horses act up. It's not worth getting tangled in the lead, and horses will usually not stray far from each other when they discover they are loose.

Sometimes I have to pony four while riding one. It goes surprisingly well, but is tiring for me as I'm really watchful of them all. The advice I gave, to throw the rope in a wreck, was given to me years ago by several other professional grooms.
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 05:27 PM
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I used a long lead with a chain under the jaw when first doing this. The confines of a paddock works best in case you have to let go. Unless the one being ponied is normally dominant to the ridden horse, don't expect it to line up nose to nose. It should move with it's head by your knee. This gives you a chance to bump it's head if he starts to crowd you. Give him 4-6' of lead so he can walk his own path and not try to share yours. Don't allow him to get behind. A slight tug on the lead will bring him forward again. The chain gives the extra control. Don't ever yank on it but steady pull is you have to, or light tugs. Don't want to break those bones.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-28-2012, 06:07 PM
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Like the others said it is easier than you think, but it is important that both horses have the necessary skills.

Ponying horse - Under control, responds to seat, legs, voice, and if necessary neck reins (very helpful). No attitude towards the other horse allowed whatsoever.

Ponied horse - Leads well and responds to voice commands.

IMO if the horses have those skills, ponying is a cinch. I regularly pony my pony off of my gelding and that's also how I used to bring in my 3 from pasture. I've never tied off onto anything either, that's just asking for trouble in my experience.
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post #8 of 27 Old 03-29-2012, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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Wow! Woke up this morning to all these amazing responses! Now I'm pretty amped to try it!

I think my major fear would be that my ridden horse would get grumpy at the led horse, but I'm not sure why I feel that way... I literally have no experience to make me think that.

Shropshirerosie, I also never heard of ponying as a verb before, but picked it up here... I must say, round here where I am, I don't think its something a lot of people do... I don't know why though! I certainly never witnessed someone doing it, or was ever taught how to do it... maybe we're all way too paranoid in general about controlling one horse, nevermind two!

What I have done before, but only once or twice is, ride one horse, and have the second trot alongside by itself, and just stay away from roads (we live in a large, but enclosed estate, so the horse could never get away properly). It really worked, because the herd instinct/friendship kept them close together, and I could ride as fast as I wanted without worrying about the second horse ripping my arm off, but I also got really worried that if I ever encountered another rider, me having a loose horse would be disrespectful of them/their horse, frighten them, or cause a problem some other way.

Its not very clever actually in so many ways now I think about it! :)
But it sure was fun!
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post #9 of 27 Old 03-29-2012, 09:34 AM
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Mummi, my gelding is very horse aggressive and he's never taken a swipe at any horse that I'm ponying, even the horses he doesn't like. He knows that when I'm riding I'm the boss and we're working, so he doesn't need to put the other horse in it's place.

I would not recommend running around with a loose horse, maybe you haven't had any problems yet, but it can be a recipe for disaster. Horses have a tendency to start acting like they're horses in the pasture instead of working when they are allowed to run free like that. It can ramp up the horse you're riding or even lead to you getting kicked.

I've walked, trotted, cantered, even hand galloped with a ponied horse. Once you get it down it's easy, just don't wrap the lead around anything. Hold it in your hand and if things get hairy drop it, especially if you're in an enclosed estate where you don't need to worry about the horse running off into traffic or something dangerous.

Start out at a walk, practice "whoa, walk, easy, back-up" and turns in both directions. I like to keep the ponied horse's head about level with my knee. Once you're good at a walk, progress to a trot while practicing everything you did at a walk. Then on to a canter. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly your horses pick it up.
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post #10 of 27 Old 03-29-2012, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes View Post
I would not recommend running around with a loose horse, maybe you haven't had any problems yet, but it can be a recipe for disaster. Horses have a tendency to start acting like they're horses in the pasture instead of working when they are allowed to run free like that. It can ramp up the horse you're riding or even lead to you getting kicked.
Yea I know! What was i thinking right?!
Don't worry, I don't do that anymore. Luckily I was lucky and nothing happened.

Thanks for your advice, my next question would have been: can I do this at the canter/can I really work out both horses this way, so your reply really helped. And good advice on not wrapping the lead around the hand!! Gave me the heebies just even imagining that going wrong.
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