Monty Roberts Equus Online University
Horse Training Video Instruction Program

Learn all about Equus • Dually Halter • Shy Boy Mustang • Jumping Horses
• Story of a Horse Whisperer • Riding Horsemanship • Dressage Horses • Willing Partners
• Horse Training • Round Pen Lessons • Performance Horses • Join-Up

← back

Horse Behavior and Training

my daughter's first pony disaster. HELP

Please upload your photo

Hi I have only joined this forum yesterday so I hope I am using this forum appropriately. I would just like to ask if I am missing something when looking for pony for my 7 year old. Here’s what has happened:
My daughter has been having riding lessons since last summer and so now I thought would be the right time to buy her a pony (I used to ride over 20 years ago and worked in racing stables for a while and have just over the past year have started riding and being around horses again). I started looking in February with advice and support from livery yard owner and other clients there. Ive travelled miles to look at different ponies taking an experienced horse person with me, to no avail (advertised as first pony when get there theres always a problem that is no good to a learner such as one I was told the pony was brill for learner who cannot ride as long as the rider does not pull at her mouth too much or she would bolt). So I went to local dealer recommended by the livery owner and asked for first safe quiet pony for first rider. He told me he had a Shetland pony that would be perfect to build her confidence in being around ponies and riding. My daughter rode him at dealers yard with trainer and he seemed perfect, slow and steady. Brought him to yard and as I’ve been doing a lot of reading around horse behaviour so I tried to introduce him to the yard and other horses slowly, spending lots of time with him and my daughter was happy to brush and groom him and was building confidence up with him, all was going well. This was until he was ridden.
A boy who is an experienced rider at the yard who often rides ponies when someone has bought a first pony and would like to make sure they have settled before putting on young children. He offered to ride my daughter’s pony and I agreed this would be a good idea. So today was the day for him to ride the new pony. The pony walked quietly as he had done for the last 6 days to the arena. The boy got on him and started walking then the pony quickly raised his pace to trot, then gallop, he was charging around the arena, the poor boy could not stop him whatever he done. The pony had his nose pointed right out forward and it was as if he was just charging and nothing could stop him. Then he started bucking as he was galloping. The pony came to a sudden stop at the fence of the arena and the boy came off. The pony, while the boy was on the floor proceeded to stamp over the boy (this was not accidental on the ponies behalf, this was obviously a deliberate act as the pony had to move forward to do it). This was frightening for the boy especially but also the other adults and children watching. It was horrible to watch. Obviously the boy was really upset and told me he’d never ridden anything like it. He also said that it wasn’t the fall that upset him it was the fact he felt as it ‘the pony attacked’ him. He suffered a badly bruised shoulder. The boys father who was also they’re told me to immediately send the pony back to the dealers as he is dangerous. Id already decided this anyway.
Once we knew the boy was ok I went to attend to the pony, he was in the corner of the arena still on edge and frightened. I took him back to the stable and and let him calm down. My daughter (who was also there with 2 other children) said that she does not want a pony now however by the time we got home she said she did ‘just not a shetland’. When she said that it filled me full of dread at the prospect of buying something that just isn’t suitable and trusting people at their word. I tried to buy by the book such as recommendations from people who have owned horses for years, took a horse person who teaches riding with me when viewing, I asked lots of questions about the pony, etc.
I would like some advice and tips from people with the same non-violent views of what more can I do how to find a nice beginners pony for my 7 year old. I must admit limited finances played a part too, but if she wants to try another pony I would save for a while to not be so restricted in finances. I would like to know if anyone can suggest anywhere and how much should I realistically pay for a sound pony. Any advice is really appreciated.

Thankyou Bethy

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed

will i hope you sent the pony back.. I would not say that just if the boy got bucked off.. but the fact that she was after him is not a good thing.. how many time did you go out in look at this pony?? i say you should go look at a horses pony 5 to 10 time. and differnt time of the day some anamals are different in the morning then thay are at night. before you ever bring it home you want to make sure the pony is safe for your 7 year old.. my other thing is this is just something about how i feel about horse shopping.. must people do not feel this way.. but i do not like to by horses pony for what I call a (puppy mill) or a horse mill.. I like horses that are for a family.. they seam to be nicer thay seam to care for there horses better the horses are nicer.. that just how I feel.. one other thing is people lie about there horses to get them sold.. some people will give the horses drug to keep then clam so they can get there money.. so I guess that kind of gose back to look at the horses 5 to 10 time.. I hope that help a little

Kicki -- Sweden
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed

I'm sorry about your bad experience. Shetland ponies can be a handful if not correctly handled, but most of them are lovely personalities.
I can't help but being curious about what caused the pony's behavior. I might expect it from a stallion, but not a gelding. Has he had bad experiences with male persons? Was the saddle badly fitted? Too little exercise in the time before he was ridden again?
Either way, he should be sent to someone who can deal with this, and it doesn't sound like a pony for a 7 year old green rider.
Looking for a horse is always a big production kind of thing, and -like bbarner said - I seriously recommend going out to see the prospective horse more than once - and look at other ones in the meanwhile. I know sometimes it is love at first sight, but you should never ever bring a horse home on the first encounter, but at least give yourself the time to sleep on it.
Furthermore, having a vet check it before you bring it home is the best insurance you can get against hidden problems. Also ask the seller if you can have it "on trial" for a month or so, so you don't find yourself stuck with an "enfant terrible".
I think the option of saving up to have a bigger field (financially) to look at, is a very good idea. Your daughter will then also have time to advance her skills in riding/handling horses.
Another thing you can do is look for adds where families are selling an older (family-)pony that the kids have grown out of. They are usually used to and good with kids, and of a more docile disposition. You may not be able to compete with them, but that is perhaps not the goal in this case. Do check that they don't have problem with laminitis (founder) or sweetitch.
Good luck, and don't give up! The dream pony is out there waiting for you to come and get it. ;)

Please upload your photo

thanks for the advice and i agree wholeheartidly. I did get a refund after the trader tried to persuade me to take another pony. Firstly i only went to see the pony twice and daughter rode him once. I think i more or less went off the word of livery owner as she knew dealer. I understand what you mean regards to buying a family pony that makes total sense and i think i will make that one of my stipulations when searching. i think i listened to other people because ive been away from horses for 20 years and feel that they know more than me but i am going to start trusting my own instincts (as well as take a horseperson along with me).

The saddle he had on was the one that my daughter rode on him and he was no problem then. And there was another mistake i made i knew nothing about his past, (another stipulation im going to stick to). Theres one thing i do learn from my mistakes im just so pleased that the young lad who rode him wasnt seriously hurt.

thankyou for the advice, and support


julie m.
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed


I too am sorry that you had such an experience with the pony. I highly suggest a dvd that Monty has in his online store called The Perfect Match: Monty's Guide to Buying a Horse. I viewed this before I got my own mare (my first) and found it to be very helpful. Having an experienced horse person or two look over your prospects is a good idea too. They may spot things that the seller would not want to draw attention to, and will give you their instincts and observations to draw upon as well as your own. Take you time and be patient. The right pony is out there, I'm sure. Good luck!

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed

So sad to hear of your story. I was riding/training a pony this past winter - a young pony, 6 years old at 12.1 hands high. I rode him at least 4 times a week from November to April. When I began, he was so scared of the mounting block, scared of lead ropes being dragged around his feet, scared of water..... He had bucked a few young riders off (reward he thought). He tried to buck me off too, but I treated him as monty instructs us to do - I have a good seat and soft hands - I gained his trust and he became a very generous fellow. I was able to clip him (started by turning the clippers on, holding it to his shoulder, when he relaxed, i took them away - AMAZING - in one session I was able to clip his feathers and ears!) He just sold to family with an 8 year old rider (who has an acomplished trainer who is able to school the pony every now and then - which I think is very important to have with ponies). I think ponies have an extreme flight instinct because they are so small which gets them into trouble because people interpret them as evil ponies. I remember my first show with this pony. We were told to canter, and my pony took off, not because he was being bad, but because all the bigger horses were cantering and my pony thought he should really go so he won't be the last horse behind to get eaten from whatever is chasing them. So I chuckle, remain calm, and he came back to me. I love Monty's advice because he teaches us what the animals are thinking. A local dressage instructor here says that ponies are no good for children because they teach the children to pull at the mouth. But the pony I worked with came along very well. You have to treat them with respect, like horses, and put TIME in with them. Because of their keen flight instinct, I can see how they could develop bad management issues quickly and who needs that? I am glad you returned the pony. Good luck with your search, and if you live, breathe, and sleep Monty Roberts...your quest will turn out well.


It's never easy to buy the right horse the first time. we also had a Shetland that always tried to buck the children of, most of them are like that, sweet but clever and not for small children. Then we did buy a 16 year old gelding 148 cm high for a 9 years old girl, but it was never a problem. My doughter tryed him only once but he was stady and calm. She has never had any accident with him, he is now 23 years old and still going strong. He jumps 110 cm and go a fair dressage. We only gave 1300 eur for him becaurse of his age, but she did learn to ride without fear and he did it all, she just needed to sit still and let him do the things that had to be done. It's the best buy we ever has made, she has learned all from him and now she is 16 years old and a very good rider, she is always told that she sits very nice and correct on any horse and I think it's because she never had to worry about any thing but sit.
So my best advice to you is, buy an older horse that can a little bit of every thing, maybe she not wins every competitions, but she will be happy arround the horse. Hope you understand my english, I am from Denmark so thats why:-) Last advice, take a good rider with you, and let her ride the pony, indoors and out on the road, every where so you can see that the pony is calm in all situations. My very best of luck. Regards Lizette


P.S My profile photo is the old pony:-)