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Teaching a horse how to pony

15806 Views 39 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  PaintHorseMares
I would really like to learn how to pony. Of my herd of five, three are youngsters who are basically unstarted: we've got a 5-year-old Canadian mare who was backed but then we stopped working with her after an injury, a 2-year-old Canadian/Hanoverian cross gelding, and an 8-month-old Percheron/Oldenburg.

I have tried my hand at it sporadically, and have ponied a 16.3 hand draft cross, and both our Canadian mares, on more than one occasion. My 15-year-old Percheron cross gelding (15.2) is a -great- ponying horse: very steady, solid, does not kick and can take some abuse from a youngster without getting too phased.

Yesterday I took out the 5 year old Canadian and she was very good! I put her in a rope halter and we did our one-mile private road/laneway. However, she leans quite heavily into my gelding, and while she wasn't out of control by any means, she pulled quite a bit (my arm was dead after).

The young colt and gelding I foresee being the opposite -- they will probably be on the slow side to begin with and lag behind.

Does anyone have basic steps they take to teach a young horse to pony properly and well? How young would you start ponying? Any tips for me while riding? I find I twist my upper body when I'm trying to fight with either a dragging or a pulling horse...
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Not sure. I am just now starting to work my yearling off of my other mare. I am starting first by moving her around the pasture and starting next month I am going to try ponying for the first time.
 

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I like to have a few go rounds in the arena first just so they used to the whole idea.

Other then that I just get on and go. When my filly leans on my boy I just put my toe on her and nudge till she gets off ;)
 

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What kind of saddle are you using?

I was taught to wrap the ponied horse's leadrope just one around the Western horn. It's safe--if you let go, the rope will come free immediately without getting hung up. But it gives you leverage to hold a strong horse, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've ponied in both a dressage and a western saddle. My western saddle is very uncomfortable and cheap so I prefer the dressage. I bet an aussie outback saddle would be perfect!
 

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You may have already done this, but I like to make sure that the horse has superb ground manners when you're just handling them one on one before starting to do very much ponying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That makes sense, Eolith. Our 5 year old has great ground manners and we have done a lot of work with her on the ground since she was born (she's from our mare). However, she also has a testy personality so it's not unusual for her to push boundaries every now and then...
 

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If this is where you ride one horse and lead the other at the same time? (sorry never heard the term ponying) then normaly I start in the field with a horse who has excellent ground manners and leads properly and an older horse who is used to being led from.

Normaly I start by having a helper lead youngster besides the older horse whilst I have the reins of youngsters bridle in my hand (and I'm on the older pony). Once we have established the fact that neither pony is going to kick the other and neither is going to have a freak out then my person on the ground will walk with us, when she is sure the youngster has got the idea she will unclip the rope and step away. We do some walking round he field like that ensuring that we can stop, start and turn and then I take them out on the roads with someone walking with me incase of emergancy.

Normaly it only takes 2 or 3 sessions for the youngster to completly understand.
I have done this bareback, in a show saddle and in a GP saddle.

If the horse is strong then you should go back to basic ground manners before you ever even try to lead it from anouther horse.
 

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If she's leaning into you, you may have the line too short causing her to bend into you. You want her to travel straight, not bent towards you. You could also be leaning causing the riding horse to drift into or away from her. Make sure you aren't bracing with your legs. If she's not wanting to stay in position and creep/go too far ahead, stick your arm out and up and if she goes beyond it, give the line a sharp jerk downward and don't speed your riding horse up to accommodate her - she can learn to stay where she's supposed to. After a time or two all you have to do is raise your arm and she'll pay attention and not go beyond it. If she's lagging behind or sucking back, bump the line to get her to come forward - make sure you slow the riding horse down till she gets it. If you find yourself constantly bumping, then dally the line, bump and let the saddle/riding horse take the drag, it won't be long before she'll come along. Try to keep a stead slow walk till she understands where she's supposed to be - you can always add a bit of speed later. Be sure you don't have a fast stepping riding horse and a hand horse who has to trot just to keep up. I pony with about an arm's length of line and fold the excess line in my gloved hand, (never coiled or looped) and I use a western saddle and breast collar, just in case. Make sure that your riding horse has a VERY good handle on it and is comfortable with ropes touching all parts of its body, including around the butt, flanks and under the tail. Oh, and make sure that your riding horse will WALK over all obstacles and through water! It's always a good idea that the riding horse be familiar with the terrain before you add the hand horse. Turning to the left takes a bit of time for the hand horse to learn, as does speeding up and slowing down. And as was said above, practice in an arena first - it's not fair to take either horse out without preparing them beforehand. That's all I can think of right now...

Good luck!
 

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I've recently begun teaching my Paint to pony. We've had issues because although we've corrected her manners on the ground, it really doesn't always translate into other areas. She knows better then to lag or haul on me on the ground, but for ponying it's like she "knows" I can't do boo about it and she'll walk like a mule, dragging her feet, and drifting behind my pony horse if I'm not HAULING on her face.

I finally got fed up, so working in an arena and with a dependable pony horse (LOL, my Arab, she's actually good when I need to depend on her) I dallied the rope to my horn (don't tie, it was firmly wrapped but could easily come loose in an emergency) and carried a Dressage whip (your pony horse has to be ace with whips) and tapped her on the butt any time I gave her a command that she chose to ignore. In no time flat, she was keeping that head right at my knee where I wanted it. We worked on sharp turns in both directions, much like on the ground, to teach her I ALWAYS want that nose at my knee (shoulder on the ground). She learned to pay attention, and also to trot to catch up when making a wide circle.

Also, because I am brilliant, (LOL!!!) Jynx has different voice commands then Zierra. So my verbal cue for Jynx to trot is different then any cue that Zierra knows and thus makes it easier to handle Jynx and make her speed up without Zierra thinking she should break a walk. However, ideally Zierra shouldn't know ANY verbal cues, but I was a dumb teenager so I have to live with that mistake!

Best of luck!
 

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I don't normally pony horses but when I do, I start out in an arena or roundpen with a very trusted, dependable, well trained horse as my saddle horse. A lot of the time, if they lead well and have good ground manners and know how to give to the halter well, the transition to ponying will be pretty seamless. However, when I have one that is lugging on the lead, or getting sluggish, or racing ahead, I can either dally up and brace for impact or use my legs and reins to maneuver my horse to 'herd' the other horse, even push on them with shoulders or hips (not a little nudge either, more of a "you better get the hell off of me" push) without getting my own legs squished.
 

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Listen ponying is the same as leading a horse. But your horse that your leading has to be use to you being above them. If you can send your horse in a circle lunging from the ground. Do the same thing in the saddle. If your horse is leaning thinking of what you would do if he was leaning on you from the ground and do the same thing in the saddle. Everything you do on the ground to lead your horse should be done in the saddle. My horse will pony behind anything. 4wheeler pickup horse trailer ect.
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks everyone for your advice. There are some good pointers here that I will utilize. The mare that I'm ponying has very nice ground manners and leads well. The horse I'm ponying from is rock solid, confident and obedient. He'll go over/through/past pretty much anything, so his confidence helps the girl following!

One problem I've had with her is that she pins her ears and will try to bite the gelding on the neck at the trot. For this I give her a smack on the neck and a firm voice command.

I'll keep practicing and try some of these suggestions. Perhaps there will be a photo if I can find someone to take one? Thanks!
 

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If she's able to bite him on the neck, then she's too far forward.
 

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That's right she is to far forward. She should be at the same place you want her at when you lead her on the ground. Everything should be the same the ponied horse just has to get use to you being over top of her while your leading her. Get their feet moving while your saddle horse is standing still with you on its back and it won't take that horse long to see that its the same as leading on the ground plus it will earn your saddle horse some respect from that horse if they lack respect
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That's right she is to far forward. She should be at the same place you want her at when you lead her on the ground.
Way to contradict yourself.

Technically when leading a horse on the ground you should be at its shoulder, thus if you were to lead a horse from anouther horse and still be at the horses shoulder then the horse would very easily be able to bite the other on the neck.

I prefer to have the other horses head level with my knee and I alway want to keep the ridden horse on the right (so closest to the traffic on the roads) this is so that when on the roads I have control of the quarters of the horse closest to the traffic and can use my leg to prevent a horse swinging its backside into traffic.
 

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Technically when leading a horse on the ground you should be at its shoulder, thus if you were to lead a horse from anouther horse and still be at the horses shoulder then the horse would very easily be able to bite the other on the neck.
I would never lead this way. The horse's head should be at YOUR shoulder when leading from the ground. Otherwise, the horse is leading you.
 

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There was no contradiction there. If the horse being led was at the your shoulder which then how could that not be at your knee when in the saddle unless you lay down and ride him. and a horse at your shoulder will one day think he is leading you instead of you leading them. I like for my horses to stay slightly behind and off to the side of me. And they seem to always respect your space better that way. A horse that's led at your shoulder will first start pushing or rubbing you with his head then next comes their front shoulder pushing on you. Where if they aren't up there to push on you then you always have their respect.
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no you misunderstood, you should be stood at the horses shoulder not it at yours.

Leading a horse is all about its feet, it doesnt matter one jot to the horse if you are in front or behind it provided you are the one telling it where to put its feet.
It is however safer for the person to be at the horses shoulder as you can send the horse forwards more easily, you can see exactly where its feet are going and you have more control if the horse decides to shoot forwards because the dragon in the hedge is going to eat it. Also a horse will not be able to go threw you like it could if you were ahead of it!

You need to go back to basics if you think you should lead from infront of the horse!

Brent, Non of my horses would dare bite me, they all have more manners then that.
 
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