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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My nine year old daughter rides hunters - she just started competing in cross rails. She currently half leases a medium pony who is just a smidge smaller than ideal for her (not problematically so, but she fits better on a large). We have had our trainer casually keeping an eye out for a good “first horse” for her, and they suggested aiming for something in the 16h range since she’s very tall for her age at 4’9”.

That said, there is a potentially good-fit large pony with solid show experience in short stirrup through children’s hunter suddenly available for purchase. The trainer is going to see him in person, but I’m wondering if we should consider it. I know my daughter would probably be more comfortable on a large pony v. a horse at this point (though that’s an adjustment she could definitely make if needed) and even the horse wouldn’t last her forever, as the goal would be a horse that could take her through 2’6”, at which point we’d be horse shopping again.
So I’m crowd sourcing opinions (though obviously ultimate opinion would be our trainer’s). Would you consider it? Would the pony last as long as a starter horse anyway, who would be outgrown by ability if not size?

I’ll also add - in my region an experienced pony packer is a lot lower priced than a horse with similar abilities. While not the deciding factor, that is also a consideration.
 

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I'm 5'5 and ride a 13'2hh pony (I believe this the top range for a "medium" pony). He does "take up a lot of leg" as they say, but he does fine with me. The trainer, who is my size, jumps him to two feet and a little over and he does really well with her.

I can't wrap my head around someone who is 4'9 maybe needing a big horse, even if she is a child and you do expect her to keep growing. I'd think a large pony would be fine for her.

I would add, since she is doing shows, that I have heard that some judges don't like to see a larger person on a pony, but your daughter hardly sounds like a large person.

Also, speaking of shows, if your daughter rides a horse rather than a pony, would that put her with a different class of riders? Like she could only do adult classes? Would you be OK with that? I don't know if that would actually be an issue, but I'm wondering.

Just in my own experience, ponies are tougher than horses and less prone to injury. If it were me I'd definitely at least take a look. Especially since he has solid show experience. A good solid pony, if need be, can be ridden for a year or two and could probably then be sold to purchase a horse, if that were necessary.
 

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I watched a really successful jumper mom take her daughter up through the competition circuit. She kept matching first ponies and then horses to her growing daughter and the kid is now jumping 135cm at 14 years old. Obviously, this is a competition family so the kid has had the best of everything but still, she was riding ponies for a long time even though she was capable of riding horses as well.
 

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I am 5'8 and have a 14 hand Icelandic as my main riding horse (favorite height is 15 hands). She is an excellent little mare. When I was younger, I rode big horses and especially loved those over 16.2 hands. Over time, though, I realized that a big horse is not necessary. Ponies tend to be stronger then horses for the same size and also tend to be more intelligent and longer lived. After a horse gets over 15.2 hands tall, their size (like that of a big dog's), starts working against them. I think the sweet spot in terms of size is 14.2-15.2 hands. Even in endurance riding, where the horse has to carry an adult plus tack for up to 100 miles over rocky terrain in a day, you don't really want them over 15.2 hands, and 15 hands tends to be the sweet spot.
 

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For the hunters it is great to start out on ponies and move to horses. I do not see any problem with getting a pony.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks all. I live in a part of the country where ponies are just much less of a thing, so to speak. It's pretty common to see young children even in walk trot classes on 16h horses, and our stable is pretty unique in that they a good group of lesson and lease ponies on which they start the kids, rather than horses.

Personally I would prefer she stick with ponies as long as one will work for her for the next two to three years. Given ponies often have a longer working life, a great been-there, done-that 14 year old pony is likely to be still be going strong in three years when it's time to move up; a 14 year old horse is going to be considered on the older side and starting to step down in three years, from what I've seen. It's also just more approachable for her to handle, tack up, etc. a pony herself, v. needing help (and she's a kid who wants to be able to do it all herself). Oh, and closer to the ground when you fall is also good!

I'll cross my fingers that our trainer give this one a thumbs up (she's at a show in the same city where he's located), and if so we'll chat about whether he's a fit and whether we should try him out. I checked out his USEF record and its solid, and he's adorable (which, you know, isn't really a criteria but is a fun perk).
 

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what about something like a POA pony. They often look exactly like horses and are very versatile.
Whatever you do, don't over horse your child.
 

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Any sound pony or horse could take her to that level. There is a 25 year old pony here at 3.6. I don't get putting kids on huge horses. I really don't. Find an animal with the temperament, training and ability that suits her level now. An animal that is sized for her that she has room to grow but not something that is so oversized.
 

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I would definitely consider the pony first. I'm 5' and I prefer my horses smaller. l don't understand why her trainer thinks she needs a 16hh horse when she is so young. If the pony doesn't work out, why not consider a small horse? My daughter's horse is 14.2 so right on the cutoff, and served her well from the time she was 10 to now, at 16. She is about 5'4" and just showed him again recently. He no longer jumps because of his age and arthritis, but if it wasn't for that, he'd be jumping 2.6 no problem. You don't need a 16hh horse to jump that height.

I'd look at the pony. Either way, she'll probably need a new horse in a few years. We are facing that dilemma now that my daughter's horse is 22 years old, but we have zero regrets. He was the perfect first horse for her. His biggest flaw: no other horse will ever compare to him as he set the bar so high. A gentleman at everything, smart, willing, great work ethic, did absolutely everything she ever asked from jumping to dressage to Western to trail rides and even some vaulting. We can trailer him anywhere and he is the same as he is at home, he is a saint on the cross ties, takes everything in stride. My advice: get your young daughter an experienced horse that will make her want to ride regardless of height, breed, colour, etc. At her age, she should be having fun with her new partner.
 

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I would not go for the pony and not the 16 hand horse but a medium, in the middle of those two sized horse.
Your new mount you buy that can jump a course at the height of 2'6"...but your daughter works up to that height and has the riding partner capable of so she also has time to create a partnership, trust and known routine as she advances the horse also does so...to a point.
I would not be purchasing a animal she is going to fit now and in 6 months time with her next growth spurt or two she has outgrown and the need to look larger again...no.
She doesn't need to be over-faced with a 16 hand horse either....no!
Look for a smaller horse to a medium sized horse....14.2/14.3 -15.2 hands will do her very nicely.
I'm 5'6" and ride 16 hand horses, in fact have 2 in my backyard...your 4' ++ daughter does not need to sit on a animal so large.
Do not join the fad of enormous mount for small rider as it is ridiculous, costs a fortune and in honesty the riders are over-faced and can't handle the power of such animals....truth!!
Go to a horse show and look at how ridiculous children riding behemoth animals look, then speak to the parents of those kids and find out the trainers ride, school and cost $$$$ added every month...and the child now not learn to ride but be a pretty passenger plopped on top...but they can't ride it otherwise on their own if no trainer school, school, school...
At a show see who is schooling those huge horses for small riders in the warm-up ring then take note of who sits astride the animal to compete...
Please don't let your child lose the joy they have in learning astride to now just be the passenger...there is a difference, a huge difference in quality of rider made and developed or just forking out money to buy the ribbons as many do now instead.

Here is something depending upon the kinds of classes your child might be offered to show in...
If the classes are not specific "pony" classes the striding to fences will often times be forward, faster moving on that pony than would be necessary if she sat on a horse with longer strides.
Sure, many ponies can clear those sized fences but must work far harder and ride faster than the course was designed for...truth.
Horse tack is often easier found than pony tack to find those "large" ponies and "cob" is not what fits many larger pony and "pony" not fit many of those ponies either.
To purchase a "large pony" is often more $$ than to buy a small horse... she doesn't need 16 hands.!

Acadian buying a "pony" sounds wonderful for you as a mature grown adult, but this poster is looking for a growing child nine years of age....a child nearly your height at 9 years old!
Do you remember the leggy child yours was at that age who grew inches in a month?
For you to buy what you buy works cause you aren't growing taller but in reality as menopause strikes shall shrink a bit...
To buy something she fits this month with little room for a good 6" of growth is just not the way I would counsel someone to go toward...sorry.
You are of small stature and daughters often stays pretty close in size to their mother...if this family has "height" in the genes...:unsure:
However, in all honesty, your daughter should be sitting on taller than Harley with how she sits and sets her irons to accommodate his build..
You know that and have mentioned looking for a new mount, larger in size than current....your daughter is yet still growing, maturing.... Only reason you have not made the move is daughter wants to stay with Harley, but in reality she has had to change her riding plans and goals to fit her horse she has outgrown and Harley is now aging and not able to meet her needs in reality and truth...sorry.
This posters child is just hitting the growth spurt years and needs to be enlightened that there are options to consider better or different than what she is being steered to spending her $$ at...:unsure:
Sorry, not meaning to be argumentative AA or hurtful but to just explain and show, there are reasons and limitations to truly consider for going one direction or explore different.
My apologies, no arrows were meant in your direction...
🐴 jmo...
 

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For you to buy what you buy works cause you aren't growing taller but in reality as menopause strikes shall shrink a bit...
Bahahaha... well thanks for the reminder HLG! You sure have a way with words...

My point was that a small horse is ideal for a child of that age, and a horse with experience will keep her daughter safe and having fun, even if that means they will age out in a few years. Yes, Harley is now having to reduce his level of activity, but for the last 6 years, he brought her great joy and took her from a child who could barely canter to winning championships in jumping and Level 2 dressage. Of course her next horse will likely be a little bigger, but bigger than Harley would not have worked when she was a beginner 10 year old rider. The horse my daughter needs now is not a horse she could have handled when she was 10.

It is always problematic to buy a horse for a child with the idea that it will be the perfect horse for them in 5-10 years. Best to buy a horse that will work for a few years, and as the child grows into a young woman and decides which direction they would like to choose, which discipline, what type of horse they like to ride, they can move on to a horse they can have for their young adult life. Rare are the horses that can carry around a beginner and an advanced rider equally, and the idea that they will "grow together", leading some people to buy a green horse for a child all too often ends very badly.

I'm not a big fan of getting small ponies for children, unless the pony will have a life in the family afterwards, but a large pony/small horse seems ideal for those pre-teen and early teen years. Any horse who can ride out those years with a teenaged girl is worth their weight in gold!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the perspectives. Much to everyone's disappointment, the pony is in PPE with another serious buyer, so likely out. That said, the trainer and I had a good conversation about what we should be looking for, and it turns out she agrees that a very large pony (14+ hands) or small horse (15ish hands) makes more sense than a larger horse. And there may be a couple of good options in the 15ish hand range right now, which sounds just about right. Fingers crossed one of them will work out.
 
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