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How to Care for Your First Pony

with Catherine Shelley

NCAS EA SSTA/ CE Level 2 General Coach, NCAS Level 1 RDA Coach, Dip. of TB racing - Melton Equestrian accredited with EA Ready, Set, Trot program.

Now that your new pony has arrived home and settled into his new surroundings, it’s time for the fun to begin. It’s a wonderful journey; sometimes challenging and demanding and possibly with a few stressful moments. But it will be well worth it in the end, and remember safety at all times for both you and your pony. It is even a good idea to wear your riding helmet when you are around your pony – catching, leading, grooming and of course a must when riding.

In this article we look at many of the important things you need to know for the care and the wellbeing of your pony.


Rugging is optional; although, if you have an older pony it should be considered a necessity during the winter months. If you are rugging your pony, and have never done this before, get help, as a rug that has not been put on properly, can cause a nasty accident if it comes off in the paddock and frightens your pony. And if it doesn’t fit properly it will become very uncomfortable. If you are not sure when to remove or change his rug, the weather app. will be your best friend, as you will need to know what the weather is doing every day. Your pony should be comfortable, not too hot, not too cold and not too wet. Never leave your pony out in the rain with a non-waterproof rug on as this could give him a nasty chill. You don’t have to buy the most expensive rugs; you can buy good 2nd hand rugs, or wait for them to come on sale at the saddlery store. Ask your local saddler or the previous owner for advice as to what size will fit the height and shape of your pony. Ideally you should have 3 rugs.

Cotton Rug - is used as an under rug all year round, but can also be used on its own in summer to stop the coat bleaching. It also keeps irritating flies and midgies off your pony. The cotton rug should be washed regularly, if you can’t use the washing machine, fill a big bucket with hot soapy (wool wash) and scrub it with a horse brush, then hose it off. If at all possible its a good idea to have a spare to use when the other one is being washed.

Canvas - these are good middleweight rugs that will allow your pony to sweat. You can purchase them lined or unlined. With unlined being a lighter option. They are great for those cooler summer and autumn nights and days.

Synthetic - Fantastic winter rugs and somewhat of a minefield as to what denier and polyfill will suit your needs, but do your research or ask your local saddlery. These rugs will certainly keep your pony warm and dry in winter. However, be wary once the temperatures start to increase, you must never let your pony get so hot that he sweats profusely under the rug; this may cause him to become stressed, which can lead to colic or other illness.


This is very important. If the previous owner had the pony looking and going well, then stick with their suggested diet. If you do have any concerns, then talk to a professional about your pony’s dietary requirements. It’s important to note that a sudden change of diet can lead to digestive problems. You would not be the first person to add all sorts of goodies to your pony’s diet at first because you love him so much and that you want the best for him, but beware sometimes the dear little bombproof pony on all the added goodies, turns into a contender for the Melbourne Cup.

The seasons have a huge influence on your pony’s diet:

SPRING: Thick green lush grass is dangerous to ponies, be very mindful of this in the lead up to spring and over the three month spring period. Perhaps ask Dad to build you a small yard to keep your pony in if necessary. The yard will also come in handy in the event of an injury. It’s also important to note, that just because your pony is too fat and needs to be shut up with limited feed, doesn’t mean you just give your pony one small feed a day. A supply of clean hay for roughage needs to be provided daily. To reduce sugar levels the hay can be soaked in water for approx. one hour and then thoroughly drained before giving it to your pony.

SUMMER: Small paddocks may become bare, with limited feed; therefore additional feed will need to be supplied. Depending on your pony’s requirements a good supply of hay and other additives may be necessary, Also, keep in mind a pony living in a sandy paddock or yard will no doubt ingest some sand with its feed, which can be a contributing factor for colic. Adding psyllium husks to your ponies feed will help to combat this problem. Ensure your pony has some form of shade from the sun, with either trees in his paddock, or possibly a walk in shelter.

AUTUMN: As the rains come and the green grass begins to shoot, this is a time when grass gets a sugar surge and can again be a problem for laminitis prone ponies. It is also a time for those dreaded bot flies, which so many horses hate and will often kick out at fences, causing injury. If your pony is running around from bot flies, see if you can eliminate the pest. When scraping off bot eggs, don’t do it in an area where your horse eats, the last thing you want is for him to eat the eggs off the ground and create more bot flies inside of them.

WINTER: Again, ensure your pony has some form of shelter from the elements with trees, walk in shelter and, or proper rugging. If there is a water logged area of your paddock that he likes to stand in, it may be a good idea to run some electric tape across it. Continual wet feet can be the cause of numerous foot problems.


Grooming is very important part of horse ownership, it is a great way to build the special bond between the two of you. It also gives you the opportunity to check your pony for cuts or swellings, stimulates his circulation and removes dead hair and most of all it cleans all the areas of his body that you will put his tack on. You never want to place a saddle or bridle on areas that have not been groomed, as this can be very uncomfortable for him.


At some stage during horse ownership you will no doubt be presented with an injury or ailment of some kind. Prepare yourself with a first aid kit and a good pair of wire cutters, just in case, and always have your local large animal veterinarian’s phone number on hand. If ever you are in doubt with regard to your pony’s health, ring your vet for advice. The Horse Deals Horse Health Diary is another valuable resource to have on hand, available each year it is a must for horse owners and provides practical health information and tips.


Schedule a farrier to attend to your pony’s feet every 6-8 weeks, these regular trims are important to ensure your pony’s feet don’t crack or develop other issues, which will cause lameness problems. Your farrier can monitor for any other problems that may develop. Cleaning and oiling your pony’s feet daily is a good way to keep check of potential foot problems and eliminate issues before they start, use your hoof pick to remove any objects that may be caught in the hoof. Be mindful that the sole of the hoof can become quite impacted at times and needs to be cleaned out each time your pony is groomed and before you ride him. WORMING It is also a good idea to worm your pony when you have his feet done; this way you won’t forget. There are many worming pastes on the market and we will cover the different types of worms in a later article.


Have a recommended equine dental technician check your pony’s teeth every 6-12 months.

Looking for a delicious treat for your pony? Check out the Hygain Smoochies!

You might also like these articles:
Your First Pony: Essential Tips for New Owners to Start Right
How to Catch, Lead & Tie-up: A Beginner's Guide
Beginner's Guide to Pony Grooming: Nurturing the Bond with Your Equine Companion
How to Steer, Brake, and Accelerate: A Beginner's Guide

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