Thinking About Getting Your Own Pony?
It Could Be a Long-Lasting Partnership
By Debbie Ober
This spring when the weather makes us all want to spend more time outdoors, teenage girls, yes, some boys, too, will turn their thoughts to getting their own pony. It is sure to be an exciting experience.
One thing is certain. The more time you invest the better pony you will have. The relationship with your pony is a partnership. The more time you spend, the more loyal and trusting your pony will become so you both get the most out of the experience.
But getting a pony is not something to jump into without serious thought.
There are several large topics to consider first including housing, financial obligation, time to care for and train your pony and where to look for the right pony. You should examine your goals such as riding style, showing or trail riding?
Then there is housing. Will you be boarding your pony or do you live on a property where you can keep your pony at home? If boarding, you will want a stable close to home so that you can spend as much time with your pony as possible. Make sure the stable is insured for your protection and your pony's.
Boarding fees usually run from $250.00 per month for field board, which includes a shelter in a field and some feed and hay. Full board includes a stall and can cost as much as $550.00 per month. This is more important if starting with a foal so they are protected from the elements and away from older ponies until they get some age and size. If stabling at home, every state requires a dry shelter, feed and hay, and access to clean water at all times. You will have to order or haul your own feed and hay.
There will be a laundry list of financial obligations. If boarding, your expenses for feed and hay are included in your monthly board fee. Any veterinary care for routine vaccines, worming or emergency care is usually an additional cost. Routine care includes vaccines in spring and fall to keep your pony healthy and can run $250 per year or more, depending on what vaccines are required in your area by your veterinarian. Dentistry and farrier care will be an added expense as well. Dentistry can start at $65.00 and up and is recommended yearly. Trims from your farrier are $35.00 and up every six to eight weeks.
Shoes for your pony now run $125.00 and up for a full set of four. If stabling at home and you are starting with a foal, your feed and hay expense will be smaller the first few months, typically $75.00 to $100.00 per month. If you acquire an adult pony, the cost can range from $100.00 to $150.00 per month, depending on how much food your pony requires to stay in good weight and healthy. Veterinary, dentistry and farrier costs will be the same. The purchase price of your pony is just the start of your financial obligations and usually the least expensive. Ponies can live up to 30 years of age, so it is a long financial obligation as well.
How much time would you have to spend training or riding your pony? Are you a student or do you work full-time? If you are a student, this leaves you weekends, holidays and summer vacations. If working full-time, usually evenings, weekends and holidays, depending on family obligations. If boarding you will have more quality time to spend with your pony because the stable does the work cleaning the stall and all general maintenance. If stabling at home, you will spend more time each day stall cleaning, feeding and hay, plus the quality time you share together.
If you want to raise your own foal, you can always consider purchasing a foal at the auction during Pony Penning, the end of July on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. This is when the foals of the famous wild ponies of Assateague Island are auctioned off. You will have the most foals in one place to choose from and get to see both the sire and dam of each, so you would know what your foal will look like when grown.
There are several private breeders in the U.S. and you could consider Chincoteague Pony Rescue which offers ponies for adoption. I don't recommend sale barns or auction houses because you really don't know what you are purchasing other than color. Many are sick or in bad condition, so be very careful. There are several websites listing horses and ponies for sale too.
Finally, think about your goals. Do you want to start with a foal or an adult pony already trained? What activity or discipline do you want to participate in when looking for your pony. Take someone with you who has a lot of equine experience when you go to look at a pony you like. We also recommend a veterinary exam, or pre-purchase exam, before buying, to make sure your pony is healthy. Be sure the temperament of the pony matches your experience level, whether a beginner or experienced. If buying a foal, consider what size it will be when fully grown.
At the Rescue, Tom and I have seen the results of pony ownership that did not turn out so well. We hope you will take seriously the information we have in this article and that pony experience will turn out to be the exciting and rewarding.
The content for this article is provided by Debbie Ober with editorial assistance by Robert Boswell.