Episode 8 of season 3 of ‘The Simpsons’ featured Homer buying Lisa a much longed-for pony after yet more parental neglect on his part. Marge tries to persuade Homer that they can’t afford to keep a pony, but as ever he fails to listen and a pony named Princess duly arrives. Poor Homer is then forced to take a second job at the Kwik-e-Mart to pay for it and before long is struggling to cope. It’s a great episode and a good example of what can happen when you give in to your child’s pleas for a pony, despite having no previous knowledge or experience of keeping horses.
As always, we can learn a lot about life from an episode of The Simpsons. Lots of children dream of owning their own pony. There is nothing wrong with this and as long as you have the means and the facilities to be able to look after an equine, horse ownership teaches them the valuable skill of “taking responsibility for another living creature”. So what so you need to know?
Buying a Pony
Ponies can be horrifically expensive to buy if you look for well-bred show quality animals, but for a first pony, it is better to look for an older animal with plenty of common sense. Younger animals are not suited to inexperienced riders. Horses are flight animals and they get confidence from their rider, so a nervous rider will cause an inexperienced pony to panic, leading to all kinds of woes. Be very careful when buying a pony and only consider animals from reputable sellers. Take an experienced friend with you and make sure you trial the animal before you buy.
The Expense of Keeping a Pony
By far the biggest expense is actually keeping a pony. Some people are under the illusion that a pony can live in a field and you don’t need to do anything apart from riding it occasionally. However, this is simply not true. Ponies need worming, vaccinations, feet trims, food in winter, and all kinds of equipment if you want to ride. And if you keep your pony at a livery yard, there will be even more expense to consider.
A Home for a Pony
Some breeds of pony are happy to live outdoors all year round, but finer breeds will need to be stabled once the weather turns cold. Unless you have your own land and stables, you will need to find somewhere to keep your pony. Look around locally and see what is on offer. Prices will vary according to the facilities available.
There are a lot of horse supplies required when you own a pony. Riding equipment, including tack, for the horse and your child, can be bought online from supplies such as One Stop Equine, or locally at equestrian outlets.
If your child lacks the experience and you don’t have enough funds to pay for a pony, let your child help out at a local equestrian center in return for riding lessons. It’s a great way of learning more about horses before you take the plunge and buy a pony.
Is your little one asking for a pony?