Written by Lisa Proffitt | 26th March 2021


Tips for buying your first pony from horse trainer Rob Komianos

The dream for many families moving to the country involves a property with a paddock and if you’re going to be a first-time horse owner, finding the right pony to live in the paddock can be a daunting prospect. As country house specialists for over 50 years, we have equestrian properties for sale in some of the most beautiful rural locations in the country.

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If you are looking for an equestrian property for sale, we would love to match you and your horses with your dream home. But if you need advice on buying your first pony, professional horse trainer Rob Komianos has given us his top tips. Rob works with race horses, polo ponies and riding school horses across Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. Described as a horse whisperer by many grateful clients, we asked Rob’s advice on buying your first pony.


What qualities make a perfect first pony?

A child’s first pony needs to be safe, sensible and easily handled. You want a pony around ten years or older who is experienced, quite forgiving and not too challenging. People talk about bombproof ponies but do be wary of that word. The problem is that you can’t guarantee that the pony has been exposed to absolutely everything so you can’t be one hundred per cent certain of how they will react in every situation.


There’s a whole language you need to understand when looking for a horse for sale. What phrases are the most important to look out for?

The horse world lingo can be confusing. Most people understand that ‘green’ means inexperienced but other words can be interpreted differently. Some people expect a horse described as a ‘schoolmaster’ to be a general all-rounder who can do everything relatively easily. Others think ‘schoolmaster’ means bombproof. Never accept at face value the words in an advert. Visit the horse and take someone experienced with horses along with you.


How do I know if my child is ready to own their own pony?

I’m a great believer that before you buy a pony the rider should be able to confidently walk, trot, canter and hack out. Above all be realistic about your child’s ability. The pony you would like to buy might not be the one that’s best suited for them now and it could lead to them losing their confidence.


If my child is still growing, how do I choose a pony that will be suitable for as long as possible without being too big to start with?

I get asked this question a lot and I honestly believe that temperament is more important than size. Little ponies can be quite tricky and sizeable ponies or horses can be more sensible. Going bigger is not a problem if the temperament of the horse is good and a 14.2 hands - 15 hands horse may be the only one you ever need to buy. Sometimes the right size for now may not have the longevity but the important thing is to have a pony you can have fun on.


Where are good places to look for ponies for sale?

Ponies can be picked up anywhere! Horsemart, Horse Quest and Preloved online sites are good places to start. Word of mouth is the most reliable way to find a good horse for sale and one of the things I recommend is to call riding schools and see if they have any horses they’re planning to sell. Look at pony club adverts online. It’s easy to buy the wrong horse, but just as easy to buy a good one. Make sure you do your research and buy from a reputable source.


How many ponies should you try out before you buy?

I’m a big advocate of trying out as many different ponies as you can, and when you find one you want to buy, go back and see them two or three times. Hack out one day, then go back and jump another day. The best advice I can give is not to rush in to the decision to buy. Be patient. There will always be another pony for sale and far better to miss out on this one than rush in and get it wrong.


Along with riding, what should you do on a viewing to check out a horse’s temperament?

Everything! Tack up, pick out feet, lunge – do as much as you possibly can to see how the horse reacts. I can’t stress this enough, but take along someone experienced with horses who can pick up on subtle cues and clues and work out the pony’s personality. It could be a friend from the riding stables or an instructor, someone to protect you from the worst case scenario of buying the wrong horse.


What kind of budget do I need?

At the moment the market is absolutely crazy and prices are sky high. For a first pony you could be looking at anything from five or six hundred pounds to five or six thousand pounds. As a rough guide you wouldn’t expect to pay more than five thousand pounds for a pony that ticks all the boxes and is generally pleasant. Over five thousand and you’re getting a horse that has the potential to successfully compete.


You hear terrifying stories of unscrupulous sellers drugging their horse to make sure it behaves well on viewings. How can you avoid seller scams?

There are thousands of different schemes and scams. The latest one is buying a horse unseen and paying for it, but the horse is never delivered. Drugging definitely happens but is very hard to prove as by the time you’ve agreed the purchase in principle and had the horse vetted, the drugs are out of their system. The best thing to do is visit the horse multiple times, take an expert with you and have a full vet check, including blood tests. Bear in mind that if a horse fails any health check you won’t be able to insure it for that condition.


Which breeds are most suitable for living in a paddock all year round?

Heavily set or native breeds like Welsh Cobs or Exmoor ponies can live on nothing, with no shoes in the middle of nowhere and are generally lower maintenance than the finer breeds or thoroughbreds. It’s swings and roundabouts though as if you put hardy breeds on good grass they can be prone to laminitis, thoroughbreds less so. Stereotypes are vaguely helpful but I would always advise to consider the individual pony.


Final thoughts?

Be patient. Take your time and don’t rush into a decision. Take someone you trust who knows about horses with you before you buy and make sure you have a good support team around you when you get a pony home, so that’s a good farrier, dentist and vet. Your first pony must be a confidence giver that can be enjoyed and improved on, then you can think about selling on and upgrading. Don’t go too flashy too early is my advice!


Whether you’re looking to buy a country estate with equestrian facilities or a rural property with a paddock and stables, why not head to the Michael Graham equestrian page where you’ll also find details of the three properties below. To contact Rob directly for advice, tuition, or livery services, call 07743 123764, email rtk013@live.co.uk or find Norton Equine on Facebook.

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