Practice makes perfect ponies

  • Although breeding plays a major part in a pony’s temperament, most can develop a more laid-back nature through careful training

    A “bombproof” temperament is vital for lead-rein and first ridden ponies, and a real plus for all other horses and ponies, but few people realise that hard work is the only way to make a pony, or horse, into an unflapable “saint”.

    Most local shows now include fun fairs, trade stands and marquees, while county shows can include anything from hunting displays to army tanks and cannon fire, making the showground a potentially dangerous place for horse and rider alike.

    Unfortunately, show organisers do not always manage to locate the horse and pony classes far away from the loud music and loudspeakers which are the norm at most events.

    Time spent acclimatising your horse to strange sights and sounds at home will never be wasted, as long as you introduce things gradually and do not frighten him.

    Noisy raincoats, flappy hats, umbrellas and balloons are all common sights at shows, which may upset animals that are not used to them. Dig in your wardrobe to find the most garish outfits you can.

    Being presented with rosettes, sashes and silver cups and salvers should also be practised as many unprepared animals have taken fright at a prize-giving only to lose their winning place.

    Carry a large colourful umbrella with you whatever the weather for an impromptu training session. Tying balloons and plastic bags around the stable yard will also help the horse learn to ignore such sights.

    Crowds and dogs can all be introduced carefully at home, while skateboards, running engines and noisy generators should be introduced both while the horse is stabled and while being ridden.

    Before going to compete at an indoor show, hire an indoor school and allow your pony time to take in the sights, sounds, shadows and mirrors.

    It is vital that you do not frighten your pony. All new experiences should be introduced carefully and gradually just as when breaking a pony in.

    Anything you can find time to do will stand you in good stead for the hullabaloo of a showground, or when coming face to face with rubbish piled up on a country lane while trying enjoying a quiet hack.

  • Click here for expert tips on preparing your pony for the early spring shows.
  • Click here for expart advice on buying a perfect first pony.
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