Home and ContentsQuestions and Answers A to ZBuying a horseBehaviour & psychologyHorse and Pony CareTraining HorsesHelping Hands HorsemanshipSchool Your Horse Help DeskSafety with horsesCompetition PageHorse & Pony StoreHoofbeats - The BlogAbout Us and Contact

Sales talk, Galvayne's Groove in teeth, Buying a Child's First Pony, Owning My First Pony Article, Last Chance to buy article... (on this page)

<<...Back (Conformation, Top Ten Owner's Expenses, Tips for Buying, Mileage)

Kelly Palmer rides Bullseye for first time - İKelly Palmer

My last chance - buying a youngster

Kelly Palmer, like many people, always longed to own a horse but when it came to buying her first one, things did not turn out the way she hoped. Several purchases later, she gave herself one last chance to find the horse of her dreams. Read the article Kelly wrote for Horse and Pony Info by clicking on the link below.  

Click here to download 'My Last Chance - Buying a Youngster' by Kelly Palmer (PDF file)


Five examples of 'horse salesperson speak' - or what we aren't being told!

We've all probably heard of 'estate agent speak'. It's a special language, or use of words, by estate agents when they describe houses for sale. 'In need of some renovation', for example, usually means the house is a complete ruin. I thought it would be a good idea to assemble some 'sales speak' which people might hear from sellers of horses.

1.  'He's a lovely horse (or pony) but he's a little green.' -
A little green has obviously nothing to do with the animal's colour - it means he's uneducated. Green horses or ponies need time put into them to teach them to become quiet and reliable. Green horses don't suit inexperienced or nervous riders.

2. 'All you have to do is lunge her before you ride her and she'll be as quiet as a lamb.'  - Trust me, any horse that needs to be lunged every day before being ridden is anything but quiet. I know a young woman who recently bought a horse from a supposedly reputable owner and was told this. The horse turned out, surprise, surprise, to be a crazy animal, and bucked off the girl's father and broke his back. Needless to say, they returned the horse and were lucky to be able to do so.

3. 'All this pony needs is a sympathetic rider with soft hands'. - Again, we're probably dealing with a mad thing but this one will probably tear around the arena with his head in the air or try to pull the reins out of the rider's hands. The dentist (
more info here) might be able to help but, unless the rider considers himself calm, sympathetic and able to deal with over-sensitive horses, I wouldn't go there.

4. 'I'm afraid I've lost her passport, but she's only nine years old.' - It's amazing how many sellers have lost passports. What this usually means is that the passport has been thrown away because the horse is at least fifteen years old. When I'm told the horse's age and there's no sign of a passport, I immediately look at the teeth as it is easy to tell an older horse's age using Galvayne's Groove as a guide (see details opposite). I bought a pony from a dealer last Autumn. She knew I knew about Galvayne's Groove so admitted that the man she'd bought the pony from had tried to tell her he was nine. We both thought he was more like fourteen or fifteen but he's kind, sensible and good for beginner riders so it didn't really matter.

5. 'This horse is four years old and he's bombproof'. - If I got a euro for every time I see bombproof four year olds advertised for sale, I'd be a rich woman. I don't believe there's such a thing as a 'bombproof' young horse. They simply don't have the years of mileage and experience behind them. Obviously some horses and ponies are more sensible than others but only older ones should be labelled bombproof. (by Zoe Wright)

Matilda jumps her new pony, Lucy

Bareback on Lucy

A green pony is an uneducated pony
No four year old pony can be called 'bombproof'

Galvayne's Groove 
Called Galvayne's Groove after Sydney Galvayne, a horseman who first noticed it, this way of telling an older horse or pony's age is well worth learning to recognise.
  • Once a horse is nine or ten a notch or groove appears just below the gum on the upper corner incisors (see diagram below)
  • When the groove comes half-way down the tooth, the horse is fifteen.
  • When it reaches the bottom, he is twenty.
  • When he is twenty-five, it has disappeared from the upper half of the tooth.
  • When the groove has disappeared completely, the horse is thirty.

Diagram of Galvayne's Groove
The groove appears when horse is aged 9 or 10


Buying a child's first pony

Good first ponies for beginner riders are worth their weight in gold and are usually handed from one family to another without ever having to end up with a dealer. Try to tick most of the following boxes:

  • Older pony with experience (aged at least 8)
  • Pony should walk, trot, canter and pop over small jump when asked, on and off the lead
  • Kind temperament - no biting, kicking, bucking or rearing
  • Child should be able to lead pony safely without being trampled or pushed about
  • Child should be able to feed and groom pony
  • Pony should not need to be lunged before being ridden
  • A pony which is quiet enough to be ridden straight from the field even after weeks without work is ideal
  • Not too forward going but needs to be obedient and move without constant kicking


Owning My First Pony

Hello, I’m Matilda and I’m 12 and I’ve just got my first pony, a New Forest mare called Lucy. I started riding when I was either four or five, and have wanted a pony ever since one! I never dreamed I would get one though. I’ve ridden at quite a few stables, riding in the arena and out on hacks, therefore gaining quite a lot of experience, and for the last year I’ve ridden Lucy - a friend in the village’s 14 year old pony - and looked after her a bit... (See link below for rest of Matilda's article).

Click here to download 'My First Pony' by Matilda McCrum