I think they are really nice and have saintly attitudes. I really do.
I think they get a bum rap because most of them are trained by children. If you turned over your big horse to a 10 year old, you would probably have a LOT worse animal come out of it.
The best way to train a pony is to to do ground work and expect manners out of them just like you would a big horse.
Then, put a surcingle on them and drive them everywhere before you put a child on them. When my son was little (about 5-10 years old), we broke a lot of ponies and retrained even more of them. We did it that way and THEN we put Terry on them and he rode with us watching and making sure he did not let any of them get away with anything. He was trail riding with us by the time he was 5 and he turned out as good a ponies as we turn out horses now. We thought they had wonderful dispositions and attitudes. The ones that have not been allowed to become spoiled by having biginners ride them with parents that do not know any more then they do, are just the most pleasant little animals there are.
NOW, I want to see how many people disagree with me and think all ponies are little monsters.
I agree with Cherie, ponies get a bad rap because most are lacking in anything resembling good training due to their size. Since they are so small, the odds of a knowledgeable adult being small enough to train them properly is virtually non-existent.
Granted, I've only had one experience training a pony (that was actually half QH), discounting my experience with a mini-burro. However, there is a local family who uses Shetland and Shetland crosses for everything. The whole family is very small in stature, so they are just the right size for ponies. They use those little horses for everything from shows to cattle ranching. Their ponies are better horses than many of the big horses I see around here LOL.
I like training and schooling ponies. Probably because I know they will most likely be ridden by children, I guess. Otherwise, they seem like any other horse. Except for the choppy little trot. And the short-strided canter. Those can make me laugh.
Once a pony has learned it can take advantage of a young rider then it will continue to do so and can become bordering dangerous because they want their own way.
This is no different to a horse allowed to go the same way.
In the UK we are fortunate to have a great diversity of ponies and children start riding on them. Rarely do you ever see a small child on a horse.
I train them the same way I would train a horse and generally there are no problems.
When you do get a spoiled small pony then the problem of finding an experienced rider who can ride through the problems can be difficult.
I am 5'8" and believe me, I have got on many a 12.2 pony that was taking advantage of their young rider!
One of the naughtiest was a 12.1 Welsh pony that had been sold to the knackerman as being unrideable. I found this pony tied in the stables with a note saying to give it a go.
The pony lunged,, accepted tack, long reined and was generally a nice animal.
I worked him hard, put a good kid up on his back and led them about three steps when the kid went sailing from a buck! I had a hold of the pony by the lunge and he never even lowered his head when he bucked.
There was nothing wrong with him, he had just learnt how to drop a rider.
To cut a long story short, I had to take a ride and left the children to keep getting on this one until he gave up bucking.
When I returned the pony was somewhat tired but was still dropping the kids.
I got on him, cracked him down both sides with two whips and set off at a canter. He couldn't really get his backside up because of my weight so, in the corner of the arena he threw himself on the ground. I was back on him as soon as I regained my feet and he did it again in the next corner! This time I had all the children ready and they piled on top of him so he was pinned and covered with bodies! He never tried anything again.
As soon as a pony knows there is someone who will not take nonsense then they are generally little angels.
Now that, Fox Hunter, sounds to me like a typical pony. The ones I rode as a child were like that, a whole bag of tricks. We have 10 hand one that bucked and sent my 3yr old granddaughter sailing and I was holding the leadline at the pony's head. Like you said the head didn't even go down, I just caught sight of the rear end going up and Chloe going flying. Yes we do make her wear a helment, and she does get back on. Loved that part about all the kids piling on him!
Isn't it Hunter 65 that has the signature something like " all ponies are evil because they are short and closer to the ground so nearer the devil" ? I laughed out loud the first time I read that.
I also love reading your stories Fox Hunter, if you don't don't have a blog with them you should have or maybe write a book :)
The pony mentioned above was called Breeze. He stayed in the riding school although privately owned for several years. He was also used for therapeutic riders.
He was sold again and left the stables as I had.
I was working away from 'home' and on a trip back I passed a horse show so went in to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in awhile.
I was chatting stood at the ringside to the minimus jumping. A small girl entered and headed for the first jump. The pony yanked the reins through her hands, swerved and dropped its shoulder throwing the girl into the jump stand. She remounted and tried again for the pony to do the same thing again.
I made a derogatory comment on the pony and my friend said "Well, you should know, that's Breeze!"
I never recognised him as he had turned totally white as he aged.
With that I was in the arena, took the pony from the steward and growled at him. I couldn't give him a quick 'what for,' which he well deserved, but pinched his nostril so he knew I was not going to take any nonsense. The girl back on, shaken and not wanting to continue, I persuaded her to go with me running by her side.
Breeze jumped just fine, I ran over three or four fences and then let them continue on their own. They went clear and she went to ride out the arena but Breeze had other ideas and trotted back to me!
He just needed a bigger person to keep his respect. He knew he was stronger than his riders and took advantage of it.
I love ponies, I respect their characters and intelligence. They are tough and generally hardy.
I don't know if any of you younger people have ever seen Thelwell's pony books, all cartoons but oh so true.