Posted 06-26-2002 at 18:13:57
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Congratulations on your first horse. You're absolutely right to look for a buddy...equids are herd animals and get lonely and depressed if left alone. They can, in a pinch, buddy with a goat, a cat or other animal, but another equid is best. If you are new to horses, a couple of things I would add to screaminhollow's excellent advice.
Horses can often live well into their late twenties/early thirties. Consider a horse for your child that is in the 15+ age range. Geldings are sometimes more consistently tempered than mares, but sometimes mares have a real affinity for children.
If you do go for a riding pony, look for a larger pony breed, such as a POA or a Welsh. In general, anything under 14.2hh is considered a "pony." A good rule of thumb is not to expect the animal to carry more than 20-25% of its body weight. (You can buy a weight tape for about $3 at the feedstore, to estimate the animal's weight)
Older horses and ponies may need additional care. They will need their teeth floated more often--usually 1-2 times per year, and may need to eat Senior feed. Also be careful not to overfeed a pony; they tend to be easy keepers, and can founder easily, even just on lush grass.
Finally, when you bring your new family member home, for safety's sake, do not put the two animals in together immediately. Let them get to know each other for several days across the safety of a fence. When you do put them together, don't be alarmed if there are minor scuffles and scrapes for a while--they have to establish their pecking order, and only one horse can be the alpha.
Hope this helps a little. Horses are like Lay's Potato Chips. It's hard to stop at one!
Posted 06-26-2002 at 11:40:26
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depends on the pony. some such as Haflingers are built like draft horses and can carry adults. others are very dainty and can't carry much at all. I saw a Haflinger a few weeks ago that probably weighed a thousand pounds at 12 hands and was being ridden by two small adults. Most ponies at 11 hands can handle 100 lbs.
A word of caution though, because adults can't ride most ponies, very few are actually "kid broke" I've had one out of seven that was actually good with kids. If you want a "kid safe" horse for a younger kid, get an old school horse (lesson horse) something that is glad to be still breathing. Such horses have seen and been through everything and will put up with more from a kid. I bought an old plow horse (16.5 hands) and she is great around my eight year old daughter. My daughter can pull her tail, hug her, hang all over her and the horse seems to like it. It is a little intimidateing for a kid to get up on that big scary horse as opposed to a cute little pony, but personality wise, the big horse is a better deal for a beginner.