Views differ a little as to what type of pony is best suited to this class. Some people feel that the emphasis should be on the very quiet ‘schoolmaster’ type, without it being stuffy or sluggish or constantly needing to be kicked on, while others feel the pony should be a very bright goer, moving along well so that the child rider will gain sufficient experience to be able to move into the open ridden classes. What is important is that the pony must be, and look, a safe, confidence giving conveyance, as befits a pony that will give a child the first taste of riding alone. The pony must do willingly, everything the rider asks of it and nothing more. The child must be seen to be in control and to have to ask the pony to do things. Therefore a pony that hangs back slightly is a better first pony than one that anticipates, ending up one step ahead of the jockey. So real collection is not normally looked for, although the pony should have a reasonable outline and not be poking its nose out or trailing its hocks.
A pony with natural good carriage should have a distinct advantage. As the ability of the riders will vary considerably some allowance in this class should always be made for this variation. Ponies must be shown in a snaffle bridle and going around the ring should only be walked and trotted and not cantered together.
In the individual show, cantering is permitted without anything advanced such as a figure of eight being usually required. The pony must go away willingly and not ‘jack up’ and should be able to go on the right leg at the canter.
Conformation is important as it makes for a better ride and allows the child to get used to what a good going pony feels like. The pony should have a small, very attractive head, graceful neck and refined, but not spindly limbs. A certain amount of elegance is sought.
Some judges like to see the ponies stripped to be walked out and trotted in hand, to see if the pony moves straight and evenly. If this is the case it is most important that the pony should be easy to handle for the child. The stride should not be choppy or short but smooth with some length.
Ponies competing in First Ridden are eligible to compete in Show Pony Ridden/Show Hunter Ridden/Riding Pony Ridden by a Child classes.
Photo: Rushworth Photos