Need Help! Looking for hunter pony stallions

I am trying to help a friend choose a stallion for his granddaughter’s pony. Long story short, mare took this kid from short stirrup all the way through pony hunters before having a career ending pasture injury. Family is very attached to the pony and has moved her home from the expensive boarding barn where the granddaughter rides. They have decided to breed the pony but have no clue as to who to breed her to so I am trying to help. I am not up to speed with the current hunter pony stallions out there but I know that you guys would have some ideas. Pony is 14hh and solidly built. Need a stallion that ships fresh cooled. Here is a picture of said pony.

What height do they want? What is this mare’s bloodlines? This information would help make more appropriate suggestions.

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I love Orchard Hill Ponies. Sara can help her choose which one is the best match.

Not the best model. She looks to be a kind soul and probably as honest as the day is long but… It would be useful to get a local expert, e.g. an equine vet or experienced pony breeder, to honestly assess her suitability as a breeding prospect, check her health as a potential broodmare (you don’t mention age) and then perhaps offer suggestions of available local stallions. There are far too many low quality horses as a result of a loved-but-injured mare being put into foal.

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How do you assess “low quality?” I would think a pony that has a show career and a decent enough brain to pack a child from short-stirrup to pony hunters would be a great candidate to reproduce.

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Because personality and brain are really important but so is conformation, the correct physical proportions and angles, to give the horse the best chance of being able to carry out a job and to remain sound over many years. There is a reason why good tennis players tend to be tall and it isn’t because they are charming company and great at babysitting but rather because that body shape is more effective at playing tennis.

If you look at the picture of the pony there are obvious conformation problems that are pretty likely to be passed on to her offspring, regardless of how good the stallion. “Breed the best to the best and hope for the best” is a very old horseman’s saying. And, be honest, when you go to buy a horse, do you chose the best one or the one that is just … OK?

We all become blind to the faults and limitations of our own beloved horses and that is why I suggested an honest appraisal from an independent expert.

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Crying Coyote Farm in FL has a lovely medium British Riding Pony stallion that I think would refine a mare: https://www.sparkleberryacademy.com/copy-of-altima-blue-mink

Yes, but there are a lot of breeding conformation champions that never make it to the performance ring. I would take brain and proven performance any day, especially for a kid, over a “model.” Also, I think if people are posting on COTH, they are probably sophisticated enough to decide if they have a suitable candidate to reproduce. I agree that it would depend on what the career ending injury was, and whether that could be passed on, as soundness is as important as brains. But that would probably be better to consult a vet to discuss.

As for tennis, both my kids played national level USTA, and could have played college, but chose academics over college. Believe me, they played plenty of small kids who were fast on the court and were grinders. I know personally know several small players who they competed against over the years who are playing at top colleges such as Clemson, Navy, and University of Southern California.
There are plenty of successful tennis players even at the world level who are not tall (Agassi, Chang, Schwartzman, Laver, Ferrer, Billie Jean King, Evert, Henin, Halep, Coetzer). The taller players, like the bigger horses, can cover more ground, but often have more physical issues that the small, fast, lighter players/horses that don’t have so much weight pounding on their joints.

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And if I were buying for a kid, I would definitely choose the babysitter “OK” pony over the “best” looking one, especially for one taking a kid from short stirrup up the ranks. Those ponies are worth their weight in gold!

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If we all thought the same thing and never diverged in our views then the world would be a very drab and beige sort of place. I would never breed from that mare because her conformation is bad. You would breed from her because she has a good heart. Thus turns the world.

The average height of the top 500 professional male tennis players is 6ft 1 in. The average height of a US male is 5ft 9 in.

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If you want to make an analogy to tennis, then a better analogy than the height of the top 500 professional male tennis players would be the system that the USTA uses to start junior tennis players. (By your analogy, you would be putting a 10 year old on a 16.3 hand horse). Back in my day, kids started with yellow balls and wood rackets on a giant court, and it was very frustrating learning how to play because the court seemed so BIG and the balls moves so fast! Now the USTA starts kids on smaller courts with red foam balls (less bounce, and much slower moving) and lightweight rackets, so they can learn control and proper strokes. As they get bigger, stronger, and more confidant, they progress to orange balls, then green balls, then finally the competition yellow balls. Each successive ball has a bigger bounce and moves faster. The court gets bigger. Rackets get heavier, and kids move from softer strings to poly strings so that they do not get injured. Not every pony should be bred to be an “AA” pony for a beginner rider. Just as there are red balls and smaller courts, there need to be safe, kind beginner ponies, and safe, kind trainers to give young riders confidence. If this pony was a good beginner pony, by all means breed her to get another safe, kind pony. If she was shown short-stirrup through pony hunters, she is probably in the green ball category. There is most definitely a good market for these ponies. There are different markets for different demands/levels of riding. Most trainers would recommend brains over beauty for a starter pony. A beginner child does not need to be on something fancy that needs to be lunged to death before it can be ridden, or you risk injuries. A child does not need to be riding a 16.3 hand horse either. If everyone bred for an Olympic caliber horse, there would be very few ammy-friendly rides. Also, the OP asked for information on stallions, not opinions on whether her mare should be bred.

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I 1000% agree that children need kind and willing ponies to start on. I’m old and I like kind and willing ponies too: I’m past the flighty 17.0 HH horse. It is possible to breed in character and ridability. It is possible to breed character and ridability in a pony with correct confirmation. Looking to an uncertain future, a well-shaped horse with good character stands a better chance of a soft landing than a badly shaped horse, even with a good character.

Enough from me: I agree to disagree about breeding from this mare.

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In twenty years of breeding, I have never yet been able to look at a mare and predict with certainty–before I see any of her foals on the ground–which of her flaws and virtues she is likely to reproduce. So for you to be able to do so from a picture seems nothing short of amazing to me.

In my world, the stallion is never “regardless” because he always plays a part in determining what the foal will look like.

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Really I do know better than to get into a COTH argument since all of us are in a hypothetical space and are not dealing with reality. But. That mare in the picture is in two disconnected halves. Her neck is short, her shoulder straight, the pasterns are upright, she is herring gutted, has weak loins, poor hips and straight hocks - from the image only and everyone knows a single picture will not tell the whole story. So, I would take a punt that some/several of her less than ideal conformational faults would be passed on to her offspring. Precisely which ones I would never presume to guess, ever, because no one could be sure until looking a foal on the ground, as you say. Maybe none. Maybe all. The stallion, no matter how fantastic, perfect in each and every way and with a performance record three pages long, can only ever put in half the genes. And evidence increasingly suggests that the mare has significant epigenetic input which makes the mare even more important. So “regardless” of how good the stallion, poor conformation might be the result of the cross. Maybe it is my English because I don’t think we fundamentally disagree.

My initial suggestion, long lost and forgotten, was that the owners should perhaps obtain an impartial and expert opinion of their pony before going into the expense and risk and potential heartbreak of breeding her. I might well be wrong, I’m probably wrong, I’m not a breeder with your years of experience and I am biased because I believe breeders carry a responsibility to breed the “best” they can, for the future well being of the animals they bring into this cold, hard world.

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It looks like the photo is not really a conformation photo; it’s a glamour shot taken at an angle, which will accentuate certain qualities.

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I have a feeling that part of the disconnect here may be that you are thinking of Ponies being used for sport in countries other than the USA.

Jumping Ponies in sport outside the US are jumpers. They are bred to the standards of that sport.

Even the welsh ponies in the UK are judged to a very different standard than the US.

There is no such thing as Hunter Ponies outside of the USA. Hunter ponies are not necessarily selected to be supreme athletes. They are not jumper Ponies. The kids start on very quiet Ponies, with a flat of jumping style who yank their knees up and go relatively slowly between the fences.

So, in the USA, it is possible for a “normal” pony to produce a successful pony hunter, depending on level of shows. The possession of a fantastic brain, and the ability to put in a quiet round, with knees up, trumps a higher level of athleticism.

I think it’s possible to have both the quality of structure and athleticism, plus the mind needed for hunters. But if the family is not trying to go to Pony Finals, they can probably produce a nice cross bred.

I personally would not breed this mare. There are conformation issues, plus not knowing her Genetic background makes it very difficult to guess at what size she will produce. And, if you end up with a mediocre crossbred oversized honey, or even a mediocre “not the right size” with limited stride, you have a a honey without a job in hunters, or a pony whose not the “right” size to do well unless they have a stellar jump and canter.

Even very experienced pony breeders stress over hitting the right sizes for the divisions. Crossbred ponies are notoriously hard to predict for size.

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Just to clarify, Canada has a large pony hunter market as well. I live in Canada and have spent my entire adult life breeding, training, showing, marketing and selling hunter ponies.

I think you meant to say there is no such thing as pony hunters outside of North America. :wink:

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Correct! Oops!

The photo makes me suspect she has QH bloodlines, although I would have expected a bigger “butt.” My biggest concern is her weak loin and lack of angulation behind (straight hocks), coupled with the fact that she is built downhill. And the fact that we don’t know her genetics - if she is a crossbred (pony/horse), she may not reliably produce “small.”

But as others have pointed out - I suspect the owners are not breeding for either a jumper pony, or a dressage pony, but rather a kind, babysitter type who can take a joke and will be safe for a little beginner kid to learn on.

Willesdon’s suggestion to have her evaluated by an expert is a good idea. A veterinarian can tell you if she is breeding sound, but many vets are not particularly knowledgeable about breeding hunter ponies, so if she were my pony, I would contact multiple owners of hunter pony stallions to see what they think. Many SOs will advise that their stallion is the perfect mate for her and hint that he can “fix” all her issues, so the multiple opinions from different people would give some idea of how to proceed.

Question: What is the real reason behind wanting to breed the pony? Surely it is not to make another pony for the kid to ride, because the child may have outgrown ponies by the time the baby is ready to be ridden. Plus: a 4 yo equine is a 4 yo equine, even with the best genetics. It is not a guarantee that this baby pony will be safe for a child, and certainly not likely to be a packer at 4 yo.

They’d be better off buying the kiddo a new one…