How to Ride a Pony

Ponies are, generally speaking, small horses. However, they're not just the occasional small horse, but rather specific breeds. These breeds carry certain characteristics, including small size, strength, friendliness, often cunning intelligence, personality, and stubbornness. Because of these, riding a pony can be quite different from riding a tall, amiable horse. Here's how to ride one:


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    Ensure your tack fits properly. Naturally, tack that fits a full-sized horse won't fit a pony, and riding in ill-fitting tack can be uncomfortable and even dangerous for both you and your pony. Some pony's tack will be made for children to use (often the stirrups will be the length used for a child).
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    When mounting a pony you do not need a mounting block, but if you can, ask someone to hold the stirrup on the other side so you don't hurt your pony, or move the saddle. You could also ask them to give you a leg-up.
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    Ride gently but firmly. Special care must be taken to ride with a gentle seat and hands while riding ponies due to their small size, but firmness is required at points to convince them that you are the one riding.If you do not tell them where to go they will not know and may decide to not listen or buck/rear etc..
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    Expect shorter, faster action. Because ponies' legs are shorter, they take shorter strides, which are consequently more rapid. This can sometimes make their gaits feel more bumpy or even jarring. If you're used to riding horses, take time to get used to ponies' movement, and progress through the gaits slowly. Be careful when seeing a distance while jumping not to judge with a horse's stride in mind instead of a pony's. Make sure you are rising to the trot to a pony's stride, not a horse's
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    Make allowances for ponies while riding with horses. As horses and ponies naturally wish to stay together in a herd, a pony may find it frustrating to be unable to keep up with the horses. Ask the riders of horses to slow down for you, or ride at a faster gait to keep up. Allow horses to pass you if they need to move quickly.
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    Make sure that you don't pull to much on the reins or it will hurt and maybe scare your pony. To make sure you don't do this use your legs to push your pony over. The reason this works is the pony will want to move away from the pressure.


  • Don't assume that ponies' smaller size makes them less able than horses. Though you should stay within the bounds of reason, certain ponies can compete in show jumping, eventing, dressage, etc at the same level as the larger horses.
  • Not all ponies have the described personality above; one of the reasons they are frequently chosen as children's mounts is their classic friendly nature, and a well-raised pony will not by any means be guaranteed to exhibit the traits above.
  • Be careful around Shetlands, even though they look small and cute, they can be quite feisty if when they want to be.
  • Be careful mounting a pony from the ground.
  • Do not treat a pony like a horse when thinking of strides.
  • Don't compare a pony to your horse, they are different.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment for a PONY not a HORSE.


  • Take care not to spoil a pony; especially avoid giving too many treats.
  • Be careful, ponies can be cleverer than horses and some can be very temperamental and buck (or other similar things).
  • Keep in mind that only light adults or children should ride most ponies, due to their small size.
  • Whenever you ride, take care to ensure your safety by wearing the proper equipment, including a safety helmet, proper riding boots, and gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • A pony
  • Correct fitting tack for a pony
  • A light rider
  • Correctly fitting riding gear: hat, boots, body protector, jodhpurs and gloves

Article Info

Categories: Riding