Is training a pony different than training a horse?

“Hi Stacy, We have just got a pony he is 1 year old and he is still a stud colt we plan on getting him gelded as soon as we can. But I have all but the smart start DVDs of yours but do you have any pointers for me this will be my first time training a pony? I have trained our other riding horses. Do you do anything different when they are smaller? He almost 10 hh and we would like to have him able to ride and

This little visitor has been the star of my most recent Instagram stories!

to pull a cart. He’s a very friendly little guy.”-Mandie D 

Congratulations! I have a soft spot for ponies and minis…they make me laugh even more than the ‘full size’ versions. Here are some tips for working with smaller equines:

  1. require the same respect that you would from a full-sized horse
  2. expect the same results you do with your horses
  3. treat them with respect

From a training aspect, things are very similar to training a horse. While smaller equines really do make me laugh more I still require them to be respectful. While it may seem more ‘ok’ to let the little guy rub on you…he will likely someday be around small children. While him rubbing on your thighs seems like no big deal, that won’t be the case when it is a small child. 

Smaller doesn’t mean immature mentally, which is why ponies have the reputation they do! Expect them to give the same results as their larger cousins and they will!

Respect should be a given with all horses but often the little guys get a bit pushed around because of their size. Keep the techniques the same. If you would have tapped to move a big horse, tap to move the small one. People are sometimes tempted to push the little ones around because it physically works but it is not as respectful and even invites resentment.

Groundwork will be a must and will be increased by your desire to teach them to drive. I loved training my minis. Although they were too small for me to ride I trained them with all the same steps for riding and driving. 

Oh, one last thing, have fun!


  1. Christine Wessel on July 16, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Stacy. I am a 4h advisor in west central Ohio.There has been a musical freestyle program put on each year open only to the 4h members who have taken a horse to the fair. It is so the kids can have fun, show people who they and their horse really are. They pick their own music, costume and choreograph their routines. This year we have been struggling to get help in the way of judges for this event. This is a long shot but we were hoping maybe someone in your organization would be willing to help us out by being one of the 2 judges. We are in Auglaize County. Thank you for your time. We totally understand if this won’t work with any of your schedules.

    • Stacy Westfall on July 16, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Christine, We had one of those at the county fair where I previously lived in Ohio. Actually I think they still do. My schedule is really booked up but it looks like you are just south of Findlay. I would give the University of Findlay a call and see if they have a student who would like more experience judging. Call the Western barn at 419-434-4656 and they should be able to help you.

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