Hi! I'm 21 years old, I live in Florida, come January I'll be enrolling into my first year of college to get my AA in Veterinary Sciences and I'm going to be adopting my first horse. =)
My best friend has been into horses her whole life and she re-introduced me earlier this year and I've been in love ever since. She's been a great trainer and an ever better friend, teaching me everything I need to know day by day. I have class A grooming skills and we're moving on to ground work once we get the mini's.
With a farm hand job, I should be able to afford him and afford gas to and from the barn + school (come January). So I want to save my money, at least 2 month's worth before I purchase him.
I make $20/day x 3 days. Making it 480$ for the 2 months. I know, not a lot. But it'll eventually get better as I slowly save my money through college and have reliable transportation during the week, and (hopefully) a part time job. I'll be putting away 60$ a month into a savings account for horse needs and Vet visits.
I spoke with a friend of mine who said I can pasture board my mini at her place for 75$ a month, which includes grain. The owner said that the colt that I want, BeautyFoal (hence the name!) was around $100-200?
I'll be talking to him seriously about it come Tuesday. I already purchased a halter and a lead rope and my best friend gave me some hand-me-down starter grooming stuff: hoof pick, stiff brush, comb. It's not much, but it's better than nothing.
I would love, love, LOVE, if you guys can give me some advice, tips, tricks. He's a foal/yearling that hasn't been weened yet, even though he should be. (His head tilts to suckle.) Beautiful little stud with flaxen mane and tail. I believe he's of sorrell coloring? With a white star on his forhead. His mane and tail are AMAZINGLY LONG! I can't wait to take good care of his mane and play dress up with him!
I'm going to be training him to be a therapy pony for autistic children, or children with cerebral palsy or something along those lines. Just for grooming and cart pulling. If you know any good organizations, let me know so I can give them a call and ask questions!
Anything you think I should know? Tips? Tricks? General advice? It'll be MUCH appreciated!
Well congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of horses! Very excited to have you - but where are the pictures? You can't talk about adorable minis without having pictures ;)
My first tip/question is why are you starting off with a stud colt? If this 'has to be the one' then save an extra $300 to geld him. Stud colts are not nice creatures. The moment they realize they have boy parts they become very aggressive. Not all are as bad, but it's not really worth the risk, geld him quick. The longer he stays a stallion the less will change when he's gelded. Especially if he plans on traveling or working in the therapy world. It kind of sad, IMO, to see so many stallions, they're so consumed with their hormones they can't even think of anything else. I have a stud pony who just couldn't even think for more than 2 seconds before being overcome with the need to breed something.
Why have you chosen weanlings to work with? They will start off with very short attention spans, lessons more than 15 minutes will be stressful and not very successful.
If you are flexible on which mini to get I seriously suggest going to a rescue. There are hundred, literally hundreds of miniature horses who are young, good horses that just need training to make them useful in this world. Most rescue minis are halter broke and that's it - so there is a great deal you can do with/for them. But they're typically young adults who need the second chance and have the attention span and physical ability to learn. You shouldn't start a pony in a cart until well after 2 years IMO. You can start ground driving around 1, maybe, but it truly depends on the horse's attention span and mental capacity. So you have a lot more waiting than training to do with a weanling. Look into rescues - that'll also help save you on the initial purchase bill in most cases.
My next suggestion, has your friend trained a mini before? Driven a mini? Driven at all? Worked with foals?
I want to be sure you're both prepared as mini's seem easy, but they're still horses and can still be damaged by improper training. Driving is not the same as riding and teaching a horse about driving is a whole nother ball park from teaching them to ride. Getting a horse accustomed to a large, heavy, noisey, creaky, bumpy thing chasing them around all the time takes a lot of work. Do either of you have any experience in that regard? If not study up!! There's a driving forum on here too that I'm sure can answer all your questions about that :)
What type of training do you have experience with? I personally find horses, mini's especially respond astoundingly well to Clicker Training. Here are some of the sources I used to learn to clicker train:
I love his colors and I want to show him, which is why I'd like to keep him a stud. I was talking to my best friend and she said I might be able to get 1 good breeding season out of him. (Which, I assume, means after 1 breeding season he'll be gelded.) His colors are too beautiful, to me, to have it wasted. Either way, I'm up for the challenge!
Against my boyfriend's wishes, this mini is going to be my forever horse. I don't plan on selling him when he's trained. He's going to be my little pony until death does us part. He'll be the first horse I train, one of many I plan on training. I want him to know me as "Mama", the same way my best friend's horse treats her. She bought him before he was born and they have the most amazing bond I have ever seen. He's saved her life on many counts, through the good and the bad. That's something I need in my life, I may have my boyfriend and an amazingly loyal dog, but everything that horses involve has helped break my severe depression. The therapeutic bonding between a foal and a human is something I want. =) 15 minutes is all I need right now, between weekend visits of seeing him. I just want him to get to know me, know that I'm not going to hurt him. Sitting in his stall reading a book after a long day of mucking stalls sounds like heaven to me!
BeautyFoal is technically a rescue, in my eyes. The man who owns the foal (along with 2 other mini-foals, 3 mini-mares, 1 mini-stud and 1 QH mare) hired me and my best friend to muck the stalls over the weekends, at 20$ each per day. Within the first 3 days we did well over 2,000$ worth of work. Each stall was at least 2-3 feet THICK of manure, urine and shavings. We got each mini-stall completely mucked out to the point where we just hit SOLID compressed dirt. It felt like a wood floor walking on it!! We softened it up as much as we could on the 3rd day, put lime down to dry out the urine and kill the thrush in the QH mare's stall. The owner is much too old to be able to keep his farm in proper condition, his daughter want's nothing to do with taking care of the horses. If I can get the baby I want, I'd be so happy in just accomplishing that! Not to mention the mini my friend want's to rescue, same farm, has his stifles lock up randomly and become extremely stiff. We plan on pasture boarding at the same place, having them as pasture buddies.
We'd love to see pictures. Congrats on getting your first Mini.
Now for the bad part. Please, please, please, don't think about breeding. I am not exaggerating, when I tell you there are now thousands of unwanted Minis, needing good homes. Many - even with some championships under their belt, are being given away. Don't add to the numbers. Dear little Minis are ending up in all-breed, dreadful killer auctions and going for $2 and $3 each! That is the sad fact about the Mini problem of overbreeding now.
Geld you little fellow by all means and you can still show him in various diciplines. If you are paying for this colt, make absolutely sure his registration papers are up-to-date. Sounds like the sire and dam might not even have theirs properly up-to-date, if the elderly owner is as you say.
You've gotten some VERY good advice and I ask you to please listen to it. As a new mini owner myself (not new to minis, mind you. I've been working with them for almost 5 years), I realize that it is crucial to heed the warnings and helpful advice given by those that know more than us.
Please, geld your mini. Stallions are rarely well behaved, and when they are, it is because they have owners that have been working with horses for decades, not because they are naturally that way. We have two (a mini jack and a mini stallion) at our farm, and while we insist that they are well behaved, they are still not beginner friendly and I would NEVER let someone with only a year of experience with horses handle them. I didn't get to start handling them until last year, four years into my learning.
You must realize that color is not something that is always passed on, and there are actually more sorrel horses (I have one, actually) than any other color by comparision. It can be a beautiful color, but it is not something to let a horse keep it's man parts for ;) Not only that, but color does not win shows unless it is specifically a color show, and sorrels rarely if ever win those classes. It is temperment, conformation, and bloodlines that do. And 99.99% of the time, it is the geldings that have the better temperment.
Is your little guy registered? If not, you won't be able to show him except for a tiny local shows.
Also, as far as therapy/driving goes, I urge you to get a professional trainer to help you break him to cart. Cart driving can be very dangerous (I've almost had one flip on me before) and if the horse gets spooked it is easy to be hurt or even killed. I had a trainer work along side of my to train my mare, Sour- so I got to HELP train her, but I didnt do it all by myself. I also took driving lessons for a year before starting to train Sour to be prepared. Driving lessons are expensive. PunksTank said not to start driving him until he's at least two, but I'd go even further and say don't start him until he's three. You can ground drive him and such, but don't hook him up until 3 and wait even longer before doing more than leisurely walks around the farm. My mare is 4 1/2 and just now starting to drive for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.
Lastly, therapy. The farm where I work is a Hippotherapy farm, and we use minis almost exclusively. However, we do not use them for riding, as they are not built to be ridden. We use shetlands for that. It takes a lot of desensatization and patience to train a horse for therapy, because they have to stand still and quiet while kids pull on their ears, shove fingers in their months, scream and thrash around them, and move around erratically. Our horses had to go through a tough 8 month training course to be ready to work with disabled kids. Not many horses can handle that and it takes a special animal for it. My mare, for example, is not the type that is good for therapy and never will be, no matter what. She is simply too impatient and reactive for a beginner or kid, let alone a disabled child. If your mini is not gelded at all, or not gelded before age two, he will never be allowed to be a therapy horse. It will be too dangerous. Once a mini learn stallion behaviors, even after he is gelded, he will remember them.
My mare and I
Minis are wonderful but are a big responsibility. Study up and take precautions! They're tons of fun once you know how to work with them safely.
I also strongly advise you to geld him. You have to understand that the horse market, especially for horses that can't be ridden, is in a frighteningly bad state right now. In my opinion and that of the majority of this board, breeding is reserved for the very best of the best--the animals with superior bloodlines, conformation, and show records that you simply can't find on the ground. Miniatures are EVERYWHERE--at the auctions, dumped at rescues....There's just too many.
Those that should be breeding are far and few between. They have to have that WOW factor, and that doesn't come from color. Color should be the last consideration.
Also consider that many shows don't allow stallions, and the same applies to most stables. My family has been working with horses (geldings, mares, and yes, stallions) for over twenty-five years. This isn't a huge amount of time in the scheme of things, but even so, I wouldn't consider a stallion at this point in time.
Please, just evaluate your options and don't keep him a stallion just because he has working reproductive parts.
Can I love the last two posts? I have 3 small ponies who were gelded when we got them, which was way too late. All 3 are horrifically violent which is why they're sitting at my rescue making nothing of their lives - not in a loving home where they belong. Now having been gelded they are tolerable for an experienced horse person to handle. Not many experienced horse people want to put up with the attitude of a late-gelded pony they could never ride, and ca only drive after some serious battles and only doing so in safe environments.
I trained one of our late gelded welsh ponies who's tiny, he used to rear when I was teaching him to pick up his feet, he's small enough for me to grab his other foot and put it back down on the ground. I'm no pro but I can handle aggressive ponies. I taught him, using clicker training, to go through an obstacle course on lead, just little jumps and some ground poles, just for fun. We had an open house at our rescue and so I taught some of the young volunteers to do the same with our behaved ponies. During the open house we showed off our little ponies to teach people what fun you can have with an unrideable horse. When I brought my late-gelded pony out he was fairly well behaved in front of the small handful of people who showed up. But when we started our obstacle course he got more excited than usual, I tried calming him but he was wound up, he got out in front of me, just far enough to kick my knee out. Luckily I had a death grip on his lead rope and he didn't get into the crowd - that could have been disastrous.
Stallions are NOT FUN. They will not bond with you the way a gelding or mare will, they only have 1 thing on there mind. While there are a few exceptions to this I wouldn't take my chances. We have another who rears all the time - this is a horrible habit to break and he's only 2. He was gelded at 1 and he's still a wound up ball of hormones (yes we had him checked to make sure everything was done right).
Also please don't breed. Go to Petfinder.com and look up how many minis there are that are in desperate need of homes. Those are only the minis living in rescues that some one actually cares enough about to find a new home. On facebook look up Camelot horse weekly. That's just one of the hundreds of auctions in the US. There are one average 3-6 minis and small ponies being sold at THAT auction alone every WEEK, not month WEEK! That's 3-6 ponies a week every week! That's 3 minis on average for 52 weeks a year - 156 mini horses at Minimum being sold at auction!! That's appalling to me knowing that's just 1 auction!! There are far too many horses, especially far too many mini's and small ponies that can't be ridden.
If you ever want this pony to work in therapy gelding is your only option. I work as a therapeutic riding instructor, we don't have any mini's but I'll tell you our horses are all dead broke, old, and either mares or geldings who were gelded young enough to be the sweet dopey type.
Now I'm going to get off my gelding soap box.
I am so glad to hear you have seen the therapeutic side of horses, horses have helped me overcome some very serious issues. They are wonderful. They will make your life complete <3.
That being said you are in for a number of long, stressful days, sleepless nights, and the happiest moments of you life.
I do encourage you to find someone experienced to help when you're ready to cart the horse but please realize you can not do this for at least a year and a half! You can teach him to be groomed, and how to lead and give to pressure, desensitize him and you can take him for walks but that's about it. If you buy/adopt a 2 year old you'll still have him/her for another 25-35 years!! Mini's live forever when cared for right! And you can start doing everything with them when ever they're mentally ready, rather than waiting years for physical maturity. Foals also have the attention span of a gnat - so you wont have much fun grooming him when he's chewing on your arm cause he got bored.
If you're still stuck on messing with a stud colt - go spend a day at a rescue. I guarantee almost every rescue has at least one young late gelded horse with behavioral issues. Spend some time with them and you'll realize it's not much fun. If you're really looking for a lifelong companion, mares and gelding are what you want.
I don't mean to sound so negative, because you're in for the most wonderful ride of your life, but I really want you to enjoy your horse - not have every day being a fight.
As for training, I personally love using clicker training for my pony! He's too small for me to ride, but not a mini. I'm teaching him unmounted agility - much like dog agility! He's another of those late-gelded ponies with a criminal record who violently attacked his trainer. Now we can't adopt him out so I'm keeping him. He's truly a ball to play with but I do need to be on guard 24/7 he will bite me, he will kick me if given the opportunity - despite knowing he'll get in trouble, it's worth it to him!
Anyway I'm curious what area you're from? There are a number of clubs and groups for mini horse lovers :)
Ok - I'm sorry - I think you've got that gelding is important now. I'll drop that topic. Now for the fun stuff you can do with a mini.
Teaching him to drive is a fantastically wonderful skill, again you should really wait until he's at least 2 to put him in a cart, and I wouldn't add any real weight until he's 4 or 5. It's not about their size more so than when their bones are fully formed and connected, so you don't misalign or strain anything.
I think the best place to start is something along the lines of Parrelli's 7 games. The first few are the most important IMO. The touching game, teaching a horse to accept your touch, rubbing them all over Everywhere! Then there's the game teaching them to give to pressure. Applying a small amount of pressure and waiting until they relieve it. Using this skill the young girls at the rescue have taught 'their' ponies how to 'dance'. They also use clicker training to reinforce these skills. The pony follows the girl around, when the girl turns, the pony turns, when the girl backs up, the pony backs up, and so on and so on - it's quite adorable! There are more games, just google 'parrelli's 7 games'.
You can also teach them agility or obstacle courses, I had to make all my own jumps as one of our minis is blind. We taught her 'step up' for short jumps and 'jump' for big jumps and she'll jump or step up with the verbal command, of course this takes lots of precision timing :P But it's tons of fun with an agile little pony like my little dirtbag Just look up dog agility courses and try to mimic those. I also would not do any of this until he's 2-4 years old. This is hard physical labor, it would be like expecting a toddler to run and do hurdles without having any lasting physical damage.
You can desensitize him to all sorts of things, tarps and bottles and balloons and umbrellas! Or wheelchairs and crutches and different braces. You'll have to study up on the approach and retreat methods :)
Another fun thing you can do is teach them all sorts of tricks! Giving kisses, giving hugs, targeting objects, bowing, smiling, shaking their head yes and no. I just love all the games our ponies can do! My pony will get his halter off the hook and give it to me - though sometimes a little too roughly ^^ I use his targeting skill to get him to do all sorts of things, like going over or through scary obstacles, getting him to load himself onto a trailer, getting him to touch and learn about new objects that make him nervous, I'll use it to regain his attention when he gets nervous or upset about something.
You're going to have so much fun with your pony!! Please post pics!! <3
Sorry about that, had an all day thing with my boyfriend. Kinda got swept up in the middle of posting!
I read everyone's posts and... yeah... The gelding thing was imprinted on me quite a bit. I'm the same way with domestic house animals, so I'm able to relate and expand my knowledge. Thank you!
I'll be talking to the owner today about it, hopefully, if I still have a job being his farm hand. I'll bring up that I'd like to have him talk to the vet to get him gelded. See if I can trade labor for the procedure while I'm at it. I really want this pony, as him and I have already gained each-others interest. Let's hope for the best when I give him a call!!
My best friend has experience training horses, not so much Mini's I don't think. Her horse is a bomb proof Appaloosa/Arabian pony. He was trained using the Parelli system and she'll be teaching me everything she knows with the ponies.
I completely understand that this isn't going to take a weekend to complete! I know it's going to take months and even years to get his training to where I want/need it to be. Thank you so much for all the advice! I didn't even think of how different or difficult cart training will be. It'll definitely be something that I'll have to plan and save money for training and whatnot. =)
I'm SO happy to hear that they're good at clicker training!! My dog is being clicker trained, and he's taken to it VERY well. So I'm sure I can manage with a pony =D