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Buying Your First Pony
 
Every parent wants to make their child's dreams come true, but for those parents tempted to buy their child their first pony, stop right there! Owning a pony can be the most rewarding experience, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. It can be a life-changing commitment, both emotionally and financially.

Ponies tend to be much hardier than horses, but they still need time- lots of it! Not only do they need exercise, they also need grooming and handling daily and let’s not forget the mucking-out. They become part of your daily routine and like you, they like to stick to it. You should expect to spend 2 hours a day,at the very least, caring for your pony.

So you have the time. What about the financial commitment? How much it costs depends where you decide to keep your pony. Unless you have your own land and can keep your pony at home, DIY livery is the cheapest option and prices can vary from £15 to £25 each week. All other costs, including feeding and bedding will be your responsibility. You must also remember ponies need regular vaccinations, they have to be wormed every 8 - 10 weeks and depending how much work they do, they could also need new shoes every 6 weeks... you see these costs are just the tip of the financial iceberg!

How much it will cost will vary, but rest-assured it isn’t cheap. The British Horse Society say the cost of keeping a horse or pony can be comparable to those of running a car and the question they ask is: Can you afford to run another car?

When deciding what type of pony you want for your son or daughter, be realistic. Safety is the number one priority. You want your son or daughter to be safe. Buying a pony which needs a more experienced home (and rider) will only end in disaster. It could also prove extremely dangerous. 
 
You want your child to grow in confidence, have fun and to love spending lots and lots of time with their pony.
 
Don’t be rushed into buying the first pony you see and if you can, always take an expert with you, preferably someone who knows your son or daughter and their riding capabilities. There is no such thing as the perfect pony so before you start looking, write a list of all that you want from a pony.

My parents took me to view my first pony, a 13” 2 grey called William and I fell head over heels, only to be left heartbroken when he failed the pre-purchase veterinary examination. So to ensure you make the right decision, don’t take your child with you. They’re bound to fall in love with the first pony they see and for all sorts of reasons it could be the wrong one.

Never say ‘yes’ after your first visit. Buying a pony is a huge commitment, so take time to decide whether your satisfied, that you're list of ‘wants’ has been met and don’t be afraid to ask the seller more questions and to arrange a second or even a third visit, if necessary. You could always ask the seller whether your son or daughter can ‘trial’ the pony for a week or so. This would give you and your child an opportunity to get to know the pony and to see whether they are suited to one another. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask advice from someone with more experience, for example, your local riding school. If you’re still unsure if the pony is suitable, say no.

For peace of mind arrange to have a pre-purchase veterinary examination. A pre-purchase veterinary examination is not a guarantee but it can help identify any health issues the pony might have and even possible problems that could become an issue in the future.

It could take weeks if not months before you find a suitable pony, but when you have and you have a pre-purchase veterinary certificate, you should register with a vet and farrier.

When your pony finally arrives home, remember to be patient because he or she will need to settle into its surroundings. Introducing the pony to other ponies or horses should be done slowly because there are likely to be changes in the pecking order and you don’t want there to be any bullying. Your pony will also need time to learn to trust you so the first few weeks should be spent quietly getting to know your pony, allowing the pony to get to know you.

First time owners can get lots of help and advice from The Pony Club which offers its members efficiency tests in riding and pony care, from the very basics to the most advanced.  Members can also train in all sorts of disciplines and The Pony Club Working Rallies are a great opportunity for children to have fun and make new friends whilst improving their general knowledge and riding skills.

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