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Finding a good home for a driving pony

From: Jane

Hi Jessica, I wrote to you a couple of years ago about a problem (which resolved itself), but here is my current dilemma.

I am considering selling my driving pony, and I'm wondering if you have any advice for finding a good home for him. The reason I feel I need to sell him is that I am a novice/fearful horse owner/driver and he is a highly emotional pony who needs a confident driver. I am coming to the conclusion that we're just a poor match. I've tried to make this work for two years now, and I just don't think we're right for each other.

This pony is 12-2, coming 9 years old, sound, sane, barefoot, never foundered or coliced, and in perfect health. He is sweet as cake and a wonderful driving pony for an intermediate to advanced owner. He could easily compete in driving shows and trials. In fact, he has been successfully shown. He hasn't got a mean bone in his body -- he has never so much as put a bruise on me. But I really need a been there/done that older horse. (He was sold to me as a good pony for a novice, but I think they overestimated my abilities!)

So. I love the little dude, but I think we're a poor match. Too often we just scare the crap out of each other! But what I am really afraid of his landing in a situation where he would end up as a child's pony and passed from child to child or just end up in a bad home, confined to a tiny muddy corral or left in a pasture to founder. I feel so responsible for him! (I guess 'cuz I am . . .)

I don't want to advertise and just hand him over to a stranger, but I'm not in a large enough horse community to just place him through word of mouth. He is such a good little guy that a trainer offered me a nice amount for him last winter. But I wasn't ready to sell him and I don't think I want him going into that situation so I won't follow up on it. (He was wound up tighter than a drum after a short period there.) I worked with another trainer last summer to build up my confidence and give my pony more experience with various situations (and wind him DOWN after the previous trainer got him so cranked) and he also felt he was one of the nicest ponies he had ever worked with.

But I am just coming to the conclusion that maybe there's nothing wrong with either one of us; we're just not what each other needs.

How do I find the perfect home for him? I'm sure there are plenty of people who would want him, but how do I find the home where he will be loved, well cared for, and not sold off as soon as he is "outgrown"?

Do you have any ideas? (He's so cute I had to include some pictures.)

Thanks, Jane


Hi Jane! It's never easy to let a horse (or pony) go down the road, but sometimes it's the best thing you can do, for both your sakes. It does sound as if you and this pony are a mis-match, and I commend you for wanting to be sure that you find him a good home.

Putting an ad in the classifieds is by no means the only way to sell a pony, and I agree that it should not be your first (or even your second or third) choice. You didn't mention where you were located, so here is some general advice.

Talk to the trainer you LIKED, talk to your vet, and talk to your farrier. These people are very likely to know if anyone in your area is looking for this sort of pony, and they are also likely to be sufficiently familiar with the buyers to be able to tell you "So-and-so is looking to buy a driving pony, but I don't think you want to sell to him" or "So-and-so is looking to buy a driving pony, and she runs a nice place, keeps her horses a long time, it would be a good home." If you know a good trainer, vet, and farrier in any given area, chances are good that they can come up with names of good people you have never heard of and would never be able to find on your own.

If this were a riding pony, you could investigate local riding stables or contact the DC of the local Pony Club. Since your pony is is a driving pony, you'll have to be more creative than that!

If I were looking to sell a pony, I would get in touch with the closest driving club. To find that club, and to get an idea about where my pony might be likely to find a suitable home, I would go through back issues of driving and/or pony magazines. I'm going to assume that you're in the States...

CARRIAGE DRIVING WORLD is one such magazine, and on its web site, www.carriagedrivingworld.com, it maintains a list of links to driving clubs throughout the USA and Canada (and also includes, I believe, some UK clubs as well).

DRIVING DIGEST also has a web site: www.drivingdigest.com

PONY ENTHUSIAST MAGAZINE has a web site as well: www.ponyenthusiast.com

In addition to the major national magazines, you should pick up the regional and local magazines and newsletters at your local tack shop (if you're in the northeast portion of the USA, the Horseman's Yankee Pedlar is a wonderful magazine that includes a lot of driving information and resources). At the tack shop, don't forget to have a look at the bulletin board - someone may be looking for a driving pony exactly like the one you have for sale.

Call the various stables in your area, and see whether any of them teach driving and use ponies. Then visit them, discreetly. If you don't like the people or the condition of the horses and ponies at the barn, you probably won't want to mention that you have a nice driving pony for sale.

Online searches can also be helpful. There's always Google - you can search under "driving pony" and "driving ponies" and see what comes up! You might find a "pony wanted" ad from someone you know - that happens from time to time - and who knows, you might even discover some pony resources in your own neighbourhood. ;-)

After doing all that, if I still hadn't found a good home for the pony, I would go back to the magazines, look at the competition calendars, and plan to attend some driving shows and demonstrations, figuring that those would be the venues where I'd be most likely to find people in search of driving ponies. Evaluating their qualities as owners can be surprisingly easy at a competition venue. In addition to condition, appearance, and performance, you can tell quite a lot about the relationship between the driver (or rider) and the horse or pony being driven (or ridden). If you're observant, you don't have to know the individuals to recognize whether their animals like and trust them. Does the horse or pony seem happy, relaxed, and confident when in the owner/driver/rider's presence - or does it flinch and step away when the person approaches?

Finding a potential buyer is one thing - evaluating the quality of a home is another, more difficult and complicated matter. Talk to your trainer, your vet, and your farrier, and keep your eyes wide open, and you'll have a very good chance of providing your pony with the kind of home you would like him to have. Good luck!

Jessica

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