Oh goodness - I'm sorry you're caught in the middle of it - while I'm sure your father meant well and this all came from good intentions, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. I applaud you searching for help.
Here are a series of suggestions, in no particular order:
- IF your kids are ever out interacting with the ponies AT ALL, absolutely insist that they wear helmets at all times. Any horse can spook, but I'm especially weary of untrained ponies. Make your father understand that under no circumstances are they to be around the ponies without helmets. Your kids should stay on the opposite side of the fence from the ponies until a trainer is confident your kids and the ponies know enough to be safe. Without trained help, the kids shouldn't be on the same side of the fence as the ponies.
- Please look up Founder and Laminitis. Ponies are especially prone to these diseases, which are caused by overfeeding. Both are preventable, but be aware they can be life threatening if not managed; it's awfully painful for the pony to have, and an awful way to go.
- As you're aware: just cause the ponies can wear a saddle doesn't mean they're broke to ride or if they have been ridden in the past, that they're safe. Maybe strike up a deal with your father that your kids can learn to ride with the help of a local professional. Many coaches/teachers will travel to you. Heck, maybe a neighbour has a teenager that is a good rider that could come assess the ponies?
- Riders should learn to ride on trusty been-there, done-that mounts so they can learn how to balance and ride well themselves before tackling a horse with minimal or unknown training. A 5 year old horse is extremely rarely a good match for a beginner.
- As the poster above me mentioned, the pony's eyes are worrisome at best, and it sounds like there is something seriously wrong especially for the pony with the bulging eye. They both need vet care. You need a vet out to do a health exam on both to let you know what you're dealing with from a starting point.
Now, to answer your questions....
Here's what I would do in your situation:
If your father wants to keep the ponies, you (as a family) hire someone to teach you proper horse skills from basic management to riding. Your kids stay on the opposite side of the fence from the ponies until the trainer is confident your kids and the ponies know enough to be safe. Without trained help, the kids shouldn't be on the same side of the fence as the ponies.
Your kids should learn to ride on well trained horses/ponies. Not ponies with unknown/questionable training. Again, you need professional assessment. I doubt either pony is well broke, especially the younger one.
If he can't enforce that or refuses then the ponies have to go. My priority would be the kids' safety over the ponies, sorry. Unfortunately with selling there are no guarantees.You could find a lovely buyer who will take good care of them till the day they die, or the buyer could sell them on and they could end up in a bad situation, or you could unknowingly sell them into a bad situation yourself. However, the situation you describe they're in right now isn't ideal, either... The market for untrained, aged ponies is very limited, at best. But I don't think it's a good idea for you to tackle this situation alone, without knowledgeable help.
I'm sorry to put it bluntly, but you will not learn what you need to learn about working with horses from a book or video, unless you have hours upon hours to dedicate to studying things like equine body language, for starters. You don't have that kind of time, so you need to hire someone to teach you, or get out of the situation entirely. I've been riding competitively for about 30 years and would not want to be dealing with the situation you're in.
Last edited by JustDressageIt; 10-10-2019 at 02:22 PM.