Taking on a horse is a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. They need a lot of attention and exercise every day whatever the weather and they are expensive to keep. However, ponies also bring a lot of pleasure to their owners and most horse owners say that all the work is more than worth it.

Housing

Ponies need to be kept in a large field (at least 10,000 sq. m/ 1 hectare), which should be securely fenced off. They much prefer to live with other ponies, as they are herding animals that are happiest in the company of others. They should also have a shelter that provides respite from the rain, wind and snow during the winter months and to provide shade and protection from flies during the summer months.
Food and Water
When there is not enough grass for grazing, ponies should be fed hay and special feeds available from equine suppliers. Ponies should have constant access to a fresh supply of water.
Exercise

Ponies need to be exercised regularly. The most enjoyable way is to go out for a hack but remember that you should wear a riding hat, body protector and high-visibility clothing. You will need riding instruction before riding in a public area as ponies are potentially dangerous and it is crucial that riders are confident about handling them or they could be putting themselves and others at risk. Before riding on a road, riders must know the Highway Code.

It is important that saddlery is suited to the needs of both the horse and the rider and a professional saddler should ensure that the saddle you purchase is comfortable and safe. All tack should be kept clean and in the best condition.

Ponies can also be exercised in the yard with lunge exercises.

Cleaning and grooming
Ponies need to be regularly groomed and have their hooves picked to remove stones (seek instruction before doing this yourself). A farrier should also trim or re-shoe ponies approximately every six weeks.
Health

Before purchasing a horse, it is a wise idea to have a pre-purchase veterinary examination carried out. Ponies should then have a yearly check up with the vet. Ponies are now required to have a passport in order to be bought or sold, and this acts as a record of the medicines the horse is given. They should also be microchipped in case they are lost or stolen.

Ponies must be regularly wormed and routinely vaccinated. Their teeth, like ours, also require regular dental check-ups.

Horse owners must habitually check their horse’s health and look for any signs of illness or problems, e.g. weight loss or gain, fleas, lice, sweet itch, colic or laminitis.

Breeds
Popular breeds of horse include the Dutch Warmblood, Thoroughbred crossbreeds, Anglo Arabs and the Selle Francais.
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