Can I have a pony please?
If you’ve got a pony-mad child and are living in the country they’ve probably asked you more than once if they can have a pony. A guinea pig or puppy just won’t cut the mustard anymore. So, what do you need to know about the financial commitment before you’re caught unawares and absentmindedly answer ‘yes’?
The good news is that there are options which mean that a pony need not break the bank. For instance, loaning or sharing is a fantastic first step towards having a pony of your own, but without the financial outlay. A loan means you only pay for the upkeep (more of that later), sharing means that usually the pony stays with the owner and your child rides in return for helping around the stables, with a contribution to the upkeep. This is great for beginners to see if their pony passion withstands the reality of mucking out and riding in driving rain. The British Horse Society has a sample loan agreement on their website at www.bhs.org.uk giving you pointers as to what you need to think about and agree upon. Crucially, make sure both parties sign the agreement, even if it is with a friend.
If you do decide to go the whole hog – or pony – then buckle up and prepare for several thousand pounds worth of costs a year. The cost of the pony itself, which varies enormously, is the tip of the iceberg. Hay alone can cost the best part of a thousand pounds a year. You may be lucky and have a paddock and stables, but if not then you will need to rent them. Factor in shoeing, vaccinations, dentist checks, bedding, insurance and emergency visits to the vet and you’re racking up a hefty monthly bill. The benefits of course are priceless. Seeing the bond your child has with their first pony will make every penny money well spent. Just make sure you really can’t placate them with a puppy, and then book some riding lessons.
Michael Graham has a selection of stunning country properties with paddocks and equine facilities.