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Interview with an Equestrienne: Top Tips for Wannabe Horse Owners #AD

I'm not exaggerating when I say that every little girl has, at some point in her life, dreamed of owning a pony. Thanks to the fact that we spent our childhood in the Suffolk countryside, my sister and I were more fortunate than most - we had a horse of our very own! But caring for a new equine friend is a big commitment and our family has learned a lot over our years of pony ownership. My sister is now an expert equestrienne, earning Pony Club achievements and rosettes by the bucketload. To share the best possible advice to all wannabe pony owners, I've decided to interview her so that everyone can benefit from her top tips!

1. Please introduce yourself and your pony!

"My name is Georgie and I'm Abbey’s younger sister! Despite always being mistaken for twins we were, in fact, born 2 and a half years apart! Showtime Sophie who goes by Sophie or SoSo for short is our pony and a treasured member of our family. She is 27-year-old New Forest Pony standing at 13.2 hands high. She has been with us for 11 years now and we have had so much fun with her. However, she has reached that time in her life where she is getting older and is very much enjoying her later years peacefully in retirement, spending her days grazing in her paddocks and occasionally chasing our chickens if they dare enter her field!"

new horse owner advice equine care

2. What are your favourite memories of Sophie?

"Saturday morning lessons - a part of my Saturday morning routine when I was growing up was my weekly riding lesson. We would learn dressage technique, show jumping courses and so much more. Sophie would always try and race around the paddock during the lesson as she would get so excited, so we would have to set out traffic cones to try and stop her cutting the corners!

Hacking out with Charlie – Sophie originally had a companion Charlie who was a little dappled grey Welsh pony who unfortunately is no longer with us. We would take them both around our local fields and lanes which would normally involve Charlie trying to nibble the grass while walking past and Sophie looking on disapprovingly.

Every morning waiting at the gate for her breakfast – Sophie has always loved her food and the way to her heart is definitely through her stomach. There is no need for an alarm clock in the morning as Sophie is there ready and waiting for her morning feed and will start neighing if we are even slightly late with her breakfast."

3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to own a pony for the first time?

"Keep it simple  if you are an avid reader of horse-based magazines you can become overwhelmed by the amount of gadgets and innovative care items you can purchase for your pony. As tempting as they can appear sometimes they make little to no difference in the day-to-day care of your new companion. I would say when you start don’t feel the pressure to get the best of the best, see what works for you then slowly invest in what works for you. Focus on building that bond and spending time with your horse rather than going all out on the gadgets. At the end of the day your pony won’t really care, so long as you have a carrot for them they’re usually happy.

Be patient – it is a disruptive time your new horse and they will be moving to a new home as your bond is yet to be established and you don’t know what works for them yet (how they respond, etc). It can be a testing time when they’re playing up and testing boundaries in the initial few weeks but keep calm and your perseverance will pay off.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice – develop horsey contacts if you are a first time horse owner through riding centres or local stables."

horse owner tips advice equine care
Vale stables horse field shelter

4. What essential pieces of kit should every horse owner have?

"Good quality grooming kit – horses love a good scratch and pampering session. Brushes become even more important going into the spring and summer months as horses will be losing their winter coat and can be uncomfortable. 

A field shelter from Vale field stables – this is a bit of a pricier suggestion but it does make all the difference. We only invested in the past few years in a permanent steel field shelter for Sophie and I wish we'd done it before, it has really been a life saver. The concreted floor enables Sophie to stay out in her field throughout the year. In previous years she had to be confined to her stable due to the muddy conditions of her paddock causing her to have issues with her hooves, which she didn't enjoy. She's so much happier in her field shelter!
Salt lick – this is good for the condition and nutrition of your pet but also a great way to keep them occupied during boring times such as when they are getting shod."

5. How have Sophie’s needs changed since she’s entered retirement?

"As Sophie is getting older, generally she needs a little more TLC. She has been retired for around 5 years now so it has become important for us to pay a little more attention to her diet. As she is exercising less, she could easily gain weight and become more predisposed to illnesses. Recently her coat quality has decreased so we have been boosting her up with supplements to strengthen her hooves and general condition. Sophie will remain a well-loved and cared for member of our family for the rest of her days!"

Vale stables horse equine field shelter care tips
Did you dream of owning a pony as a child? Did you take riding lessons? Please share your horsey memories with me in the comments!