Pony Training/ Weight Limitations - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 06-15-2015, 02:45 PM Thread Starter
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Pony Training/ Weight Limitations

This is a hypothetical down the road type question, as I don't plan to get any other horses for at least a year.

I always imagined my next equine would be a pony so that my kids could get into riding too....but I'm just over 6 feet tall. With the saddle I could easily exceed the 20% max on a pony. How the heck could I train/ refresh it? Even if we bought a fully trained pony I could totally see my kids letting its skills get rusty, like in the winter, and then we'd be stuck with a pony no one could bring back(?)

My 11 year old daughter is small and delicate (she obviously doesn't take after me : P). I don't even think she weighs 60 pounds. She's interested in riding and old enough to learn, but the idea of pairing her up with a full sized horse makes me nervous....
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post #2 of 31 Old 06-15-2015, 02:50 PM
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Find a good child in the area that. Can rode the pony occasionally.
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post #3 of 31 Old 06-15-2015, 02:52 PM
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Get a small 14h horse instead.
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post #4 of 31 Old 06-16-2015, 04:59 AM
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Depending on your weight, you might be able to get away with light riding on a larger pony.
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post #5 of 31 Old 06-16-2015, 07:45 AM
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I am also 6 foot tall and used to work with a lot of ponies when my son was small. I worked all of them in long lines, often with a driving bridle that had blinders on it so they could not watch me. I would keep them honest for turning away from the barn and going exactly where I wanted them to go. I could get them to go forward anywhere and and could get them to follow their noses without cheating, over-bending or sulling up. I could keep them being perfect little angels without ever putting a leg across them.

Also, the thicker made ponies (not the real refined ones) can carry 30 - 40% of their body weight with no problem at all. They are much stronger than a horse, pound for pound, just like a small mule or donkey is.
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post #6 of 31 Old 06-16-2015, 09:02 AM
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It is all about personality. You want a willing, laid back animal that retains it's training whether it is a pony or horse. Even with that, bad habits can develop depending on your child's level of experience and what she allows the animal to get away with. For me size is secondary. I intended for my son to start with a sturdy pony. I started looking when he was 2 but was in no hurry and thought nothing of sitting him on our drafts. The more we talked about his "pony" (we refer to all the horses as ponies) my son did not realize we truly meant pony until we went to see a few. He threw fits. He wanted a "real" pony (draft horse). I found a lovely QH mare (just over 15 hands) and he accepted her. He was 4. She was happy to listen to him and follow his directives and we would ride her to make sure she was honest but really she didn't need that until he started allowing her to do as she pleased because he was happy sitting and letting her take charge (he was 6 going on 7). He's had her for 7 years now. Her only issue is her refusal to carry two. Because of that we either walk youngsters that have never ridden or pony them off another horse. He still considers her too small. Up until this year I've allowed him to ride my big mare (18 hand Belgian) once I have reminded her of what's expected and he takes her out in the yard, riding her up to the neighbor's or out through empty pastures. Now that he is older (your daughter's age) and understands more about how different horses respond he can get on her and she listens to him as much as she listens to me without the reminders. That is to say she respects him and his authority. Again it is all about personality not size. At lessons his favorite is a stout QH pony that gives him a run for his money and has to be reminded each ride who is boss. Big difference in sizes and personalities. Any of the animals is capable of hurting him, their personality determines the likelihood or risk. His worst injury was from the pony.
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post #7 of 31 Old 06-17-2015, 12:33 AM
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I disagree about the 30-40% bwt being fine for any horse(they may handle it, but it's hard on them). IMO, after studying bodywork, etc, 20% should be the outside margin, for any real riding. BUT that's not to say I think it's necessarily terrible for a bigger rider to do a bit of light training work, with consideration of how the pony is handling it, and I also agree the sturdier breeds are also obviously stronger. Eg. a Hafflinger may only be 13hh, but they're built like the proverbial brick amenities block & can usually easily carry 20%, whereas a 14.2hh Hackney may do it hard with the same weight.
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post #8 of 31 Old 06-17-2015, 09:15 AM
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Icelandic ponies are the only 'horses' in Iceland and they are ridden by adults all of the time. I have known many 'thick made' ponies that regularly carried nearly half of their weight and never had sore backs or any other problems. I cannot remember seeing any 'sway-backed' ponies that had been regularly ridden by full sized riders for years. I have known many that were still being ridden well into their 30s.

Husband's old coon hunting mule weighed about 500 - 550 pounds. He regularly carried a nearly 200# rider and 50# of tack. They went all night up and down rough terrain. When I first married Pete, I questioned how he could ask a 48 inch mule to carry a big man and heavy tack all night long. I was told 'Mo' would outlast him and sure enough -- Pete sold him when he was about 20 and he was still 100% OK and ready to go hunt every night. Pete could not keep up that routine any more so quit coon hunting.

Our son's first mount was a 45" mule named Molly. [She and son could go hunting with Pete and she could jump a barbed wire fence nearly as talll as her back. When he outgrew her, I sold her to a neighbor with little kids. She had been hunted on all of her life by a friend of ours (about 170 #). She weighed about 450#. The man also roped heels and calves off of her and kept her 'tuned' to teach youngsters how to rope.. She was the brokest little mule I have ever seen to this day. She was 12 when we bought her. We had her five years. That made her 17 when we sold her to our neighbor. That was about 26 years ago. She is well over 40 and still sound (despite being foundered after we sold her). We see her every time we drive past the neighbor's place. She still carries his grand-kids when they come to visit.

Someone from the UK needs to comment on how much weight the native ponies regularly carry. I have see many photos of the northern ponies with big men riding them. Is this the norm there? I would guess it is much like it is in Iceland.
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post #9 of 31 Old 06-17-2015, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
I disagree about the 30-40% bwt being fine for any horse(they may handle it, but it's hard on them). IMO, after studying bodywork, etc, 20% should be the outside margin, for any real riding...
I've read the studies. There are no studies indicating 20% should be the outside margin for real riding.

My horses top out at about 850 lbs. I'm 160 & use a 35 lb saddle (23%). I'm also smaller than most guys. But guys bigger than me ride horses like Trooper and Bandit all day for ranch work. Bandit's previous owner is probably around 200 lbs, which with saddle would put him at 28%...and he did some endurance races with Bandit. Trooper is under 850 and was ridden all day for ranch work by guys bigger than me.

And there are no studies anywhere showing this is harmful. There simply is no basis for a "20% rule". BTW - the standard Cavalry load assumed a weight of 230-250 lbs on a horse (man & gear). British Cavalry, WW1:



I'll add the slender Arabians handled those weights just fine.

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post #10 of 31 Old 06-17-2015, 02:17 PM
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In the riding school we had a Welsh Mountain pony, Bernie, 12.1
One of the owners bought him off a Welsh farmer one winter after seeing the farmer. About 170 lbs. riding him up the sole of a mountain in two feet of snow. The farmer had a bale of hay strapped to his back amd another across the pony's neck to go feed the sheep.

Some of the native ponies, the Fells and Dales, Welsh cobs, Highlands are not any bigger than 14.2 buy capable of carrying a man for a day's Foxhunting.

I at (then) 140 lbs have hunted a 13 hand pony all day, I have more than once got on very small ponies to teach them manners. Shetland amd Welsh ponies pulled coal carts up through the mines, weights exceeding theirs by a long way.

One Exmoor pony liveried at the riding school, was a real PITA with her small owner and refusing to go away from the stables. It was reported that she was tearing right up and bucking. I had a right royal argument with the little toe rag and was still fighting her past a large old house that was being converted. The builders started calling out, "Cruelty, get off and carry it!" As well as many other unprintable things.
The mare decided they were on her side and started to stand right up. At this point one of the men said "Hey, that's the little pony that was so nasty to the girl yesterday!"
Their tone change to "Ride him cowboy!" and telling me what to do to her!

I rode that pony for three miles along the beach, most at a canter, amd then trotted her back. Counting the times I turns her about to go back away from home she probably went ten miles at least. She wasn't at all bothered by the extra weight, only that she couldn't get her head down and her butt up!
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