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Millie J.

Dear Debbie,

I have a pony that is usually perfect for little kids to learn on. Recently he has learned a new trick. He will be trotting or cantering along with his young rider on his back and suddenly he will yank his head down and the little kid will be yanked off over his head. Do you know where I can buy, or how I can make some sort of equipment so that he is unable to yank his head down. I really really love this pony for teaching, other than this new trait, so I hope you can help me. Thanks. Millie

Millie J.

Hi Millie,

Ponies are so smart! They do learn very quickly how to get what they want! :) I'm not sure what discipline your students are riding, but my thoughts would be the same for any discipline. I also wondered if your students are beginners or further ahead such as intermediates?


You may have already thought of this, but my first thoughts would be are the riders being very careful to not pull on the pony's mouth? If they are accidentally pulling too hard, the pony may realize that the inconsistent 'pulls' are very bothering to him. If that is the case, you can get a small leather hand grip that can attach to the saddle billets or Concho leathers.

The rider can use the hand grip to hold hands steady rather than pulling on the ponies mouth during a trot or canter. This makes sense to me because if it is not happening at the walk, the student may not be pulling due to not 'bouncing" during the ride.

Additionally, with students, you may want to be very sure that the bit that you use is a very gentle one. A D-ring snaffle or eggbutt snaffle is much more forgiving than others. Also you may want to consider lounging your pony with draw reigns and gently move him to the trot and canter slowly and acting quickly to bring him back to the walk if he starts to pull hard on the draw reigns.

Be very careful to not have draw reigns that are too tight, that can make your pony sore, and try to avoid the bit even further. One other thought that could be your last resort, and I would strongly recommend that you talk to an expert in this area if you choose to look at this option, would be to use a head tie that goes from the horses pull on the bridle to the saddle. You would never want to tie this leather too tight, or too loose...especially with students. You see them on harnesses for horses that pull carts or wagons.

Again, I would strongly recommend that if you have an advanced student that could start the pony out using this, good habits could be established quickly and the head tie could be eliminated or used on only a limited basis.

It's a fine line between making the pony safe for students and being sure that your pony does not take advantage of young riders. Safety is number one with student riders and it's good that you are looking at safer alternatives! I hope this helps you and I would love to hear what works! Thank you and happy riding!


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