This may not be popular opinion, but a gift pony for children or grandchildren that will have to be boarded somewhere, is simply not a good idea. The odds are against the success of that little pony’s happiness with “visiting” children. When the novelty wears off, and sad to say it usually does, that little pony’s going to be spending a lot of time alone. When the weeks and months between visits start to add up, and the children need coaxed to just go say hello to the pony and bring him or her carrots, let alone ride, the writing is already on the wall. That little pony will soon be going up for sale. Some Christmas ponies don’t make it from the one Christmas to the next with the same family.
Christmas for a large part of this country, means cool or cold weather. Up north, it means snow. Little children, no matter how bundled up they are will soon start looking forward to the hot chocolate and cookies after the barn visit, more than the barn visit itself.
Make sure the little ones really want a pony. Observe their behavior around horses and ponies. Are they happy just being with horses? Or do they prefer to only ride, and when the ride is over, to go home? Do they treat grooming the pony after the ride as a chore? Those children, as with a lot of adults, are indeed still horse lovers, but of a different sort. These children would do best with a Christmas gift of riding time or riding lessons. They just might not be ready for a pony or their own. It’s not a fault on their part, it’s a fact. Ponies and horses are a lot of work and take an emotional commitment as well.
The child who can’t get enough of simply being around horses and ponies, is probably the best candidate for a Christmas pony or gift pony. They most likely enjoy brushing a pony just as much as riding one. They love combing the pony’s mane. They love picking out the pony’s hooves. They love standing next to ponies. They love talking to ponies. They dream about ponies.
An ideal situation for a Christmas pony is where you own your own farm or Grandma and Grandpa do, and horses are a part of everyday life. The children know when they wake up on a farm, or visit Grandma and Grandpa every day or every weekend, that there are barn chores to do, horses and ponies to groom, and then yes, the reward, horses and ponies to ride.
Ponies are relatively inexpensive to keep. They only eat half or sometimes even a third of what the average horse eats. They’re easier for little ones to groom, being closer to the ground. And for the most part, they have good temperaments. They’re easier to clean up after, over a horse. They require smaller stalls and less pasture than a horse. They will still need to have their feet trimmed, they will need to be vetted routinely, and they will need to be loved. It is rare for a pony to stay with the same family his or her whole life. Children grow up.
Think twice and even three and four times before making the commitment to buy a Christmas pony. Make a “family” commitment to that pony first because everyone is going to be involved.