A few questions about ponying
This summer I really want to whip my lease into shape. Last summer I worked with him quite a bit but I was rather naieve and never thought to condition him or slowly bring him into the work I wanted to do with him (even though it was only very basic work). Because he hadnt been worked all winter he had hardly any topline at all, and I'm embarrased to say I never even took that into consideration. As a result we often had horrible rides in the arena (walking on the trails wasnt bad). I had a lightbulb moment at the end of the summer that me working him was like asking me to get up and do a traithalon with no training and I vowed I was going to do my best to get him fit and conditioned before we rode next summer (I'm away at college in the fall/winter/spring).
Anyways, backstory aside, I think ponying would be a great way to bring him back into basic fitness and I have some questions for those of you who have done it before.
I have a 4 week workout schedule designed for him that I've put together from reading various conditioning articles (which I'll adjust as needed) but for those of you who have done this before- what did your schedules look like?
My lease is a 16.1hh TB. The horses I have available to pony him with are a 15.1 QH and a 14.0 Halflinger. I dont think this would be problematic, but have any of you ever had issues with having a shorter pony horse?
Any tips, tricks, advice?
It really shouldn't matter what size horse is ponying and what the ponied one is. As long as both are ok with doing it. Of course I wouldn't use a small pony to pony a draft horse. I have used one that was just over 14hh to pony one that was almost 16hh and vice versa. It wasn't any serious exercising but going from the pasture to the barn and back. Both were fine in doing it.
Nope, used to do all my ponying on a 14.3 hh QH...and we ponied horses a good 2 h higher than him with no issues! It's more of whether your pony horse is well behaved, and understands the job...I used him to teach other horses to be ponied. I don't think it matters much on height...it will matter alot on how well behaved the pony horse is, and if you know how to control the ponied horse without interfering with the horse you are riding.
Heck, I pony my 16.2hh Thoroughbred on my little 14.3hh Paso Fino. Height doesn't matter, as long as the horse you're riding is calm and won't get riled up if your pony-ee decides to act up!
I've never had an issue ponying any horse (and, as a trail guide who gets a lot of children who can't control their horse, I pony a lot; and not just for conditioning). I've ponied a 16 hh gelding on a 16 hh mare. Size shouldn't matter (obviously it would if you were on a 13 hh pony trying to lead a 17 hh horse ROFL).
When you choose you "pony leader," make sure you have a horse that's calm and won't lash out against your horse. A good way I learned to pony is to wrap the lead rope around my saddle horn once and holding it with my free hand (keep your thumb against your index finger; if the "pony" pulls back or spooks you can actually damage your hand). By wrapping it once you insure that if you have to let go, it won't get into a tangled mess. And if your pony starts to drag you can get a little "oomph" from your horse helping to pull it a little.
Also, be sure to expose the horse to as many things as possible (ditches, people walking, etc) and don't make a big fuss of it yourself. By having a calm, experienced horse in front the pony will say, "Hey, this isn't going to eat me" and will fret less over obstacles and objects. But, just in case, you always have that lead to let go of.
To help prevent any malice going on in the rear end (you know how young horses can be, I'm sure), I like to keep the pony's head about even with my leg. When I go down/up a hill or through a narrow passage, I give the lead some slack so s/he can fall in behind my horse. Once done, I bring the horse back up to my leg. This also helps my mount be less worried about if this "kid" behind them is going to bite or cause trouble (I have had a horse do this; when the filly was behind us she would move her nose behind his butt and he would threaten to kick her -- he was insecure having her behind him). That was an instance where I was glad to have let go of the lead; otherwise, I could have been pulled from my horse! (Which is another good thing with the saddle horn; I wasn't wrecked because I was able to safely release the rope without pulling my shoulder.)
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