Taking a stance for the little guy.
By Kelli Neubert
It seems that my favorite media outlets have been blowing up lately with political opinions, debates and controversy. I must admit, I can’t help but feel a little inspired by all the buzz. In fact, I’m using this post today as a political platform to bring up an issue that stirs up mixed feelings and general contention in the horse world.
I hope you’ll trust me and hear me out.
I stand before you today to represent and stand up for the little guy. Yes, the one with a meager voice and a bad rap. I’m here to declare it loud and proud: I’m pro-pony.
Ah, the beloved pony. For some, this is a pleasant, somewhat adorable idea: small kid, small horse. But for many, the very word conjures up childhood memories of being scraped off on low branches, kicked by tiny hooves, and involuntary roll sessions in the arena. Ponies equal puffy manes, quick steps, innocent faces and devious little equine minds.
I’ve owned several ponies and have been around plenty more. I find that the key to their conniving, somewhat tricky nature has to do with their above-average intelligence. Yes, there are many ponies who start off on the right hoof, so to speak, and don’t develop disagreeable habits. But most of them are ridden and trained by children, not trainers, so it’s easy to understand how they turn into tricky little creatures as they age. Often, I’ve found that when a horse has developed a bad habit (or 12!) it’s generally linked to him or her being an intelligent creature. We do something as riders, they find relief, good or bad, and it sticks. This holds true tenfold with ponies. Most ponies are very bright and easy to teach. And yes, sometimes re-teach. An occasional tune-up is key when keeping a smart pony on the straight-and-narrow.
This intelligence, in turn, makes it almost impossible to hurt the little buggers. Ponies have been bred to be small survivors in a big horse’s world, and they can usually keep themselves out of harm’s way.
One of my favorite attributes about ponies is their size. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see a short-legged kid waving and kicking his tiny boots in an 11-inch saddle on a big old gelding. But I can’t help but think of the parent/sister/employee who has to be there to throw and cinch up that 11-inch saddle, boost the kid up, take him down and unsaddle that gelding every time he wants to ride. Now, substitute that 15.2-hand gelding with an appropriately sized pony. As long as the child has the strength, he can perform all of those tasks himself (even step off to get his fallen hat). A kid’s confidence and knowledge grows quicker with a good pony than with a large horse because there is less chance of injury and more jobs that the kid can perform himself. There is less intimidation with a smaller equine companion for both children and petite adults. And let’s face it, the cuteness factor is hard to beat.
Also, a smaller body means a lower feed cost. Their feet are generally hard and strong and don’t require shoes. Ponies come in assorted sizes, speeds and colors (and did I mention that they have great hair?) A good pony can hold its value—registered or not—and can be worth its weight in gold if it cooperates and offers itself as a steady partner.
So please, consider my statements and vote accordingly. For those of you who prefer to ride down the trail on a larger, steady mount, I completely understand.
As for me, I’ll continue to rally for the little guy—the mighty, versatile and dependable little pony. I’ll write it, I’ll sing it, and I’ll shout my support, although I realize it might leave me, um, a little hoarse.