Now you've got the pony home, here are some useful tips to help you and the pony get off to a good start
(these tips are being developed so more detail will be put up over time)
- Give the pony time to adjust to its new home. When you get it home, put it in a yard or small paddock on its own but in sight of another horse, give it some hay and water and leave it alone. It may be a bit anxious and if so is likely to canter around and whinny a fair bit. If it can see other horses it will calm down a lot more quickly than if it is completely isolated. If it is getting very agitated put it in the smallest safe space (preferably no barbed wire and with solid fences). You may need to stay with it until it starts to calm down. Make sure you watch it carefully so that you can intervene it it looks like getting injured. When horses get really frightened they will run into fences because their fear interferes with their ability to see and judge obstacles-don't wait until your pony is galloping flat out around the yard-catch it before then and put it somewhere where it can't get up much speed- a stable or roundyard is ideal.
- Don't attempt to ride the pony for the first few days-preferably give it a week to settle down and learn your routine.
- Worm the pony before putting it out into the paddock with other horses.
- When putting the pony into a paddock with other horses, if possible, put in a paddock next to the paddock it will end up in so the horses can talk over the fence first. (Watch for injuries if the fences between the paddocks are wire). When the squealing has stopped and the horses are grazing happily, then you can introduce the new pony. (It might take a couple of days for them to settle down). Make sure you watch what happens when they all meet and be ready to intervene if needed. Expect a fair bit of squealing, chasing and kicking. Make sure the pony has room to get away from the other horses if they attack it. Some ponies, particularly older ponies will be pretty chilled out and settle in to the paddock very quickly, however its always good to spend time watching the first few encounters to make sure nothing goes awry.
- Get familiar with the pony on the ground before riding it. Spend time each day handling it on the ground, getting to halt, back-up and lead quietly around your property so that you and your child are confident that you can handle it in the environment of your property.
- First ride-use a safe enclosed space at first (if you have one). Choose a day when the weather is calm (no wild wind or rain)and lock up any distractions (dogs, horses likely to run around in the next paddock.) You want to minimise any distractions that might frighten the pony. Only ask for trot and canter once you are confident that you can control the pony at a walk.
- Arrange for lessons with a reputable instructor as soon as possible so that you and the pony keep on the right track.
- Expect the pony to be a bit more nervous or anxious the first few times you ride it and the first few times you take it out on rides or to pony club.
- Don't be in a hurry! Aim for small successes early on so you have big successes later! If the pony is getting hot at the trot and canter, go back to walk until it calms down. Plan to take extra time for those first trips to pony club or a show. Don't expect too much and take the time to let it get used to the new environment. If it is a bit stressed at pony club maybe give the mounted games and jumping a miss until you or your child can control it easily. Time spent on getting the basics of control and calmness will pay huge dividends later on.