Our 10 year old daughter is 5’5″ tall. To those of you who have never had a child and a pony and worked like heck to make sure they work well together, this information on her height may not seem to have any connection to the topic proposed by the title of this post. To those of who who have, or have enough experience to imagine, understanding that her small pony was no longer a good fit will be simple.
A horse is measured in hands. A hand is 4″. A pony who is 13.2 then is 54″ tall. A child who is 65″ tall looks a bit ridiculous astride something so diminutive and horse show judges penalize that. We are not hard-core horse show folks but the kids likes to show and we enjoy taking her and given those facts, we really do need to do our best to make sure she doesn’t look like a complete idiot riding into the ring.
We had to sell the pony. A heart-wrenching experience which netted a decent amount of money to spend on her next mount. We never intended to part with this pony and she can’t remember life without him. He was born on our farm when she was 3 years old. Sell him we did, though, and while we miss him, selling was the right thing to do and now he has another little girl who loves and spoils him.
Then we began shopping. Well, not exactly, then I made a list of the things I thought were important in a mount for a 10 year old child. Things beyond the bare-bones necessities of soundness, having been handled and being at least somewhat well-trained. This horse had a longer list of must-haves.
Here is my list:
the horse had to be a gelding, no other option, no other sex, in other words NO MARES.
I wanted her to have a Quarter Horse. Because she rides hunt seat AQHA horses are somewhat uncommon. I didn’t care. Temperament was of critical importance and I have and probably always will be partial to the calm, kind demeanor of this breed. I would consider a Paint–same thing with spots.
This horse needed to be honest and kind. Eventually I want her boyfriend to be like this but for now I was aiming at the horse: Patient. Kind. The sort of animal who will be her best buddy. A horse she can sit on bareback while he grazes in the daisies on sunny days and take on weekend trail rides and hang with on rainy days in his stall.
As shallow as it is, I wanted her new horse to be pretty. Wind was beautiful. Stunning even. I didn’t want to replace him with some old drudge of a horse.
Bonus points would go for a horse that had been shown; had showmanship experience; was of an age and experience level to not require us sending him to a trainer; and a price that would leave me a few bucks to buy myself a trail horse.
The hard part came in when I asked friends to help me shop. Some of them wanted to give me phone numbers for nothing but mares (you know who you are!), many tried to convince me that we needed to look at other breeds (they were actually correct), some didn’t get the part about wanting a horse that was young enough for her ride for several more years. I took all numbers and didn’t call any of them whose horse didn’t already fit the parameters I had established.
We wound up looking at horse after horse after horse. One we loved but he was too green. Several we didn’t love at all. One was crippled and sad. Another we couldn’t properly assess because we couldn’t see him being ridden or ride him ourselves. I kept on looking. One we fell absolutely in love with, Martina and I, but Mark didn’t like him at all and we had to let that one go in spite of our deep affection.
Eventually we adopted a miniature horse from USERL. She’s adorable, rotten, bratty and precious. We love her and are thrilled to have her punky, sassy, dappled little butt in our barn. But the kid can’t *ride* Barbie.
Finally I told her we were going to look at One. More. Horse. If we didn’t like him I was calling the search off for a month or two. Looking at horses can be exhausting.
We went. We looked. We watched and groomed and groped and petted and rode. And he fit every single one of my criterion. Every. Single. One. It was difficult sometimes ignoring the advice about all of the fine and wonderful mares available. Also the recommendations for large ponies, that especially was hard to overlook because ponies are wonderful and special creatures. Now we have a beautiful new addition to our barn. A kind, personable, genteel gelding who is gorgeous, has great legs and a wonderful work ethic, carries himself in a beautiful frame and is the right size and age for our daughter. Sticking to my guns got a little difficult at times but I am so, incredibly happy that I did it and that we found the right horse not just for her, but for our family.