How do you break small ponies?

We got another pony in the barn - a small Welsh pony mare. Surprise, not quite as advertised - not as big and not as beginner safe. The couple other ponies we’ve got are bigger, so a small adult can ride them. They’ve also got better dispositions, this mare is a little bitch! Stereo typical evil pony mare.

I’m in a saddlebred barn, so we don’t get many small ponies. If we do, they are generally Hackneys and they’re broke to drive. How do you hunter peeps turn out the bazillions of (more or less) safe gray ponies? Do you just pair them up with the meanest kid you’ve got in the barn?

We’re looking at (literally) long-lining the crap out of this mare.

That’s one way.
Or the smallest competent adult.
If you have a kid willing (& able) to be a Crash Test Dummy, you longe pony with kid aboard.
That said, eons ago my 6’2" trainer got on a 13h pony a Jr bought out of a pasture as a project to flip. Jr herself was a tough cookie, but pony needed the extra weight & length of leg trainer provided.
Pony did unload trainer, but not often & eventually turned into quite the nice Medium.


In my area, every now and then I’ll see advertisements from teens and petite adult trainers looking for small project ponies. Someone doesn’t have to be child-sized to ride a small pony. Someone petite (say 4’11-5’4) and of light/average weight can manage. Honestly, I think a skilled small rider is certainly far preferable to a child even under close adult supervision.




I’m 5’3 and rather scrawny so have backed plenty of little welshies. Only issue is with saddle fit if they are particularly short backed.


Yikes. While I understand the fun/joking “ponies are evil” thought process, this seems pretty serious. If this is how you feel about her, maybe it would be best to just move her on?


Calm down. I’m a sailor; profanity is my first language.

Odds are the pony will be moved on. It will be easier to move her on if she has a marketable skill. Bucking off small children is not a marketable skill.


:rofl: I mean, depends on the kid!

In all seriousness, I would call up some sales barns that specialize in ponies for references for a trainer who can give the pony a “refresher” course under saddle, or put out the feelers in a FB group for a trainer (with insurance) who has references/a track record in being a pony jock.

Sometimes small ponies don’t have great saddle fit or have had kids who have really yanked and cranked them around so much they’re very sour, so finding someone who knows ponies (again, preferably an adult) is key if you’re looking to move her on to a better situation.


Where are you located? @173north is a quite good adult pony jock.


Does your barn have a small enough harness to teach it to drive? Just treat it like any horse and expect t it to behave. Only thing wrong with most of these little heathens is nobody ever teaches them and stays consistent and they learn things not intended, like how to scare their way out of work.

There are some show pony lines that are not bred for temperament and have none but, IME, its mostly learned behavior. Maybe getting it in harness is worth thinking about. Or not, hard to unteach and reteach, especially to clever ponies.


Wait, did you some how wind up with “my pony”? We have one in the barn I’m at. When she is being too annoying breaking through the fences she occasionally comes to my house. I seem to be the only one that can get within 10’ of her.

She also bucks off small children. I often wonder if she was trained to be one of those kiddie broncs for the rodeo.

Thank you! OP… I’ll take the pony. :sweat_smile:

But really, you treat them like any other horse, you just need a skilled and petite rider for the actual riding. A lot of people don’t bother to put proper foundations on ponies or actually teach them anything, they just muscle them around and the ponies get confused and eventually pissed off and defensive. So if she’s giving you a hard time I can basically guarantee that either she straight-up has no clue what is being asked of her and is blowing up because she’s overwhelmed, or she’s uncomfortable/in pain.

If you get on FB you can certainly find folks who specialize in ponies who you can send her to, or who would purchase her as a project. In the meantime I’d lunge her lots and get her rock-solid on voice commands, if you can also do that with tack and eventually with a small person sitting on her even better. Long-lining is also a great idea, my last small came to me having been long-lined a bunch and he was phenomenally easy to get going under saddle. Wisely used food rewards can also be a huge help.


:rofl: I mean, depends on the kid!

That was my thought as I typed it.

My trainer picked up this little gem in the Richmond, VA area. When she came in the barn, she had the cutest little elf feet :unamused: and was a fairly agreeable. Since her feet have been trimmed, she feels better & has been a bit of a terror. Her ground manners are lacking, especially since the other ponies we’ve had were Amish broke &/ from a show barn they have fantastic manners, even the mini.

We’ve got harness that will fit, that’s not a problem. Just wondered if there was some trick to dealing with littles under saddle. Saddlebred ponies are usually 15h + (I know)

There were warning signs when the trainer looked at her, I mean her name is Princess :face_vomiting:


I sometimes train ponies. I’m only 5’2". Not sure I would want something that evil. Most ponies get angry from dealing with terrible children who yank and jerk on the reins. They don’t get the training they should have had by a skilled rider and get spoiled/ruined by kids. It’s not the ponies fault.

You just need a small adult or teenager willing to work with her. And I would recommend you do a lot of longlining because these ponies usually need to be restarted from the ground up. They just have a terrible foundation.

The problem with ponies like this is they will no longer tolerate bad children riders. They will need to be ridden by a older child that knows how to ride or they revert to bad behaviors and evasions. They have learned that certain evasions work and are likely to test their rider.


By any chance is this pony getting fed concentrates? Does the hay have a lot of protein in it? Are people sneaking in sugar cubes to try and get the pony to be friendly?

All the above can be rocket fuel to a pony.

I am all for getting an advanced rider on the pony, child, small teenager or a small adult. Do you have any ex-jockeys available?

I owned a POA who was 12.2 hands and ruined. This little helion tried to scrape me off on a barn door the day I tried him. All it took was applying the correct aids at the correct time and to the pony’s surprise he was obeying me (and believe me he was surprised, I was supposed to be on the ground writhing in pain according to him). I just gave him a few rides to remind him that he needed to listen to the aids.

He was never a perfect pony, nowhere close. If I could have stood riding his extremely short strided rapid trot I could have gotten him further but my legs are too long to ride the trot he gave me (I think my thighs were too long for his build.)

I did succeed on getting a 13.3 hand British Riding Pony to become a decent ride, but he had more of a horse’s stride instead of a pony stride. This second pony had extremely well-sprung ribs and he fit my legs well.

Ponies resent being hit, they resent it deeply. It is necessary for the rider to find another way to get the point across.


I’m 5’5" if I stand up very straight, and I rode quite a few smalls for my former trainer. Ponies often get away with misbehaving because they’re “cute,” so expecting good behavior from them as you would any horse is key. They’re usually smart and strong, so they need an adult rider who can be firm and consistent and not aggressive. Ponies are often smarter than horses and not as forgiving, so if she’s been ridden by children with bad hands, bad balance, and/or bad manners, she’s probably just figured out how to deal with it in her own way. Having said all of this, some ponies, like some horses, are really not fit to be ridden, either because of conformation, personality, or both. I hope she turns out to be the other sort!


Q: How do you break small ponies?
A: You don’t. They break you.

Note: I actually love small ponies and horses, and despite the stereotype, I have been fortunate to know mostly sweet ones, or ones that had an attitude only within limits.


Oh man, I’m from that area and now I’m wondering if I’ve seen this pony! :joy:

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Sounds like a potential driving prospect for an experienced adult. How big is she?



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