1. Native ponies generally require little or no special treatment, can live out for most, if not all, of the year and have excellent temperaments, which make them a popular choice for children and smaller adults for all types of riding.
2. They are usually fairly straightforward to manage, and so are a good choice for an amateur to produce for the show ring. Native showing classes have grown massively in popularity over recent years, but a well-produced pony from a family yard can still hold its own against the professionals.
3. Many native breeds have strength far beyond their size so do seek expert advice on whether your preferred breed is suitable for your requirements.
4. Look at breed characteristics carefully – temperament does vary between the breeds and small is not always sweet.
5. Go for a reputable breeder with a good name for producing reliable, safe, well-conformed ponies. Look back through show results and you will see certain stud prefixes appearing time and time again.
6. Do not be tempted to buy a young pony for an inexperienced rider of any age. All ponies can be strong-willed and will need forming by an experienced rider as they start their ridden career.
7. Shetlands are amazingly strong and often benefit from a small adult to take part in their training and schooling.
8. Most native ponies are strong characters, so be prepared for this. Welsh section A and Welsh Section B ponies typically make good child’s ponies and are ideal lead rein and first ridden candidates.
9. Gather together as much information as you can about the breed, before starting to look for your ideal native. There are many excellent books available and the breed society website is likely to have lots of useful information.
10. Enlist the help of a breed expert. Many highly regarded judges are happy to help advise newcomers. A mixed mountain and moorland judge is likely to have less preference for a specific breed than a breeder will. The National Pony Society (tel: 01420 88333) should be able to help find someone suitable.