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How to find the perfect first pony and make riding fun for tiny tots: top tips from the pros *H&H Plus*

Taking tumbles, grappling with tack cleaning and discipline are all par for the course of a child’s initiation into ponies – even when your parents happen to be famous equestrians, finds Madeleine Silver

Eagle-eyed Pony Clubbers at the Beaufort Hunt branch last summer would have spotted a five-star eventer in their midst; the 16hh gelding Lebowski. Aboard the retired Badminton ride was eventer Beanie Sturgis’ 10-year-old son Sid. But such an illustrious mount is certainly not the norm for our top riders’ offspring, whose often ordinary-looking ponies would easily mix in with the melee of hairy children’s ponies having a Thelwell-style outburst.

“That was me being self-indulgent really, because I wanted Lebowski to do something,” admits Beanie, who steers clear of hefty price tags for her children’s pony power. “I’m not the kind of person that would spend £5,000 on a child’s pony. I think people go a little bit overboard about having something that can jump a metre. As a first pony you want something with three legs, that’s nearly dead,” she says. “[The child] needs to be able to bring it in from the field, brush it, lie under its tummy, slide off its bottom down its tail, and do all the things that you’re not allowed to do.”