Whether you’re after a lead-rein pony for your young child or want a competitive eventer or showjumper for a teenager, searching for suitable ponies is tricky. They must be safe but fun, and this is a rare combination to find.
You can’t put a price on safety or on making your child’s dreams come true. But everyone has a budget, so researching what you need to spend for the type of pony you need can make the entire process easier. And of course, the purchase price is just the start of what it costs to own a horse or pony with ongoing bills likely to significantly outweigh the initial outlay. So to help you out, we’ve spoken to a couple of producers and sellers for their take on the pony market at the moment.
Clare Reynolds of CR Showjumpers specialises in high-level showjumping ponies. She believes the key to finding ponies great homes comes down to not being greedy over prices, matching ponies to riders and building a good reputation. However, the market is changing, and this is affecting pony prices considerably.
“To even source what people want, we’re paying a lot of money in the first instance — and that’s going to be passed onto the next client,” says Clare.
Natalia Thorpe of NT Equine agrees: “At Clifden Connemara sales recently, there were very plain, not super-special four-year-old ponies going through the ring and fetching €4,800. The pony would cost me £5,000 after the travel costs to get it home, and that’s without having been paid for my time to go looking for it and my travel to Ireland.”
A fun first pony
What can you expect to pay for a fun first pony (12.2hh and under) that can take a child on and off the lead-rein for all activities — even a bit of hunting maybe?
“These ponies are worth their weight in gold!” states Natalia. “People should spend as much as they can afford on children’s ponies as you can’t put a price on safety. I would expect to pay in the region of £3,000 upwards for a good one.”
The first ponies on the Horse & Hound classifieds are resonant with this: this hunting pony suggests it would give a child plenty of good, safe fun — for £4,500.
It gets even trickier if you narrow your search to a native pony that could show up to county level. For example, this well-bred Welsh section A claims it would be suitable for the show ring, complete with a tiny tot.
A confidence-giving Pony Club pony
Braver children might be happy to ride something a bit trickier or younger — but if you have a less-than-confident rider, you need an angel of a pony. We looked at Pony Club ponies around 13.2hh that would let a less confident rider do a bit of everything at a low level.
“These ponies are saints!” says Natalia. “I get asked for these all the time, but they just aren’t out there. I would say they cost around £4,000 upwards, depending on their record and history.”
These rare ponies are certainly that, and it’s likely that they get passed around within families and Pony Clubs. This coloured 134cm gelding is £4,500 and is advertised as being able to do anything from showing to Pony Club.
A 14.2hh Pony Club teams pony
It’s every child’s dream pony: a 14.2hh that can do dressage, showjumping and eventing up to area level (and it’s more than likely going to be Connemara or Connemara cross).
Natalia says these ponies go for around £6,000.
“If it’s got British Showjumping (BS) or British Eventing (BE) points, don’t expect change from £10,000! And an up-and-coming pony will be more than a pony who’s peaked in his career already.”
Going further north might help you out. Clare explains how location and geography have a big impact on pony prices: “I’m originally from the North, where prices weren’t as strong as they are now down South.”
For example, this 14.2hh gelding has competed at BE100u18 level, and is priced at £5,500, potentially because he’s based further north, although it could be for other reasons.
You may be able to save money by buying a young pony and producing it from scratch. However, this won’t suit all riders.
“The consumer culture in England has an ‘everything now’ attitude, and people seem to be less willing to put time into a young horse and produce it themselves,” says Clare. “But then they don’t want to pay the money for a well-rounded, well-produced pony. It’s a catch-22 situation really.”
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A competitive jumping pony
We’ve all marvelled at the youngsters flying around huge fences at Olympia every Christmas, but how much can you expect to pay for one of these pocket rockets? Clare specialises in jumping ponies and explains what people should budget for when buying a competitive jumping pony with a decent BS record.
“I import and produce high-level showjumping ponies, from four/five-year-olds up to 10-year-olds. For a good pony, say a 148cm that’s jumping Newcomers or Foxhunter, with a good consistent record, you can expect to pay at least £15,000 to £20,000.”
Clare adds that it’s important to be realistic in vettings too, especially if you’re looking with a lower budget.
“Vettings are so stringent. Normally, when you find a pony in the lower-end of your budget, there’s a catch somewhere. They might compete to the level they need to, but the vetting won’t be good enough. It’s important to be realistic about what your horse or pony needs to do.”
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