Using an outgrown pony to get you out and about locally, just like in the days of old shown in the picture, is an ideal option if your child’s pony has become outgrown and you want to save money on fuel costs. This can give a much loved pony a new lease of life a new element of usefulness and is so much better than parting with a family favourite or  feeling extremely guilty that he’s doing nothing every day. Standing around the pasture getting bored – or worse still getting so fat that he ends up getting laminitis is a terrible way to spend his days. So splash out on some harness and a cheap carriage and drive him.

You will have great fun and, even more important, ensure that your pony has a proper working life with a definate sense of purpose where he can feel needed.  It must be said also that quite a few successful people who took up the sport of carriage driving originally to began to give an outgrown pony a new job. For here is the ideal way to still enjoy the company of a beloved small equine, by driving him round the local lanes, to the pub or even in your first competition.

It makes sense however before you break your pony to harness or send it away to be trained, which can be quite expensive, that you are absolutely certain that he will be suitable for driving safely on the roads.

Most ponies if they have confidence in their owners will take happily to driving, however they do need to have a calm, reliable disposition and be totally traffic proof.

For while carriage driving can provide a new career for an outgrown family pony and create a new interest that involves all members of the family, provided the animal in question is safe.

If it has a headstrong temperament or is inclined to be nervous you will need to reconsider. While an excitable pony might be considered a fun challenge out hunting or flying round a cross country course, between the shafts he is well on the way to his first and possibly final accident!

If you can’t already drive it is best to book yourself some lessons to find out if it is for you, not everyone feels comfortable driving. The British Driving Society has a list of qualified Light Harness Horse Instructors, throughout the UK, who can assist you, give you confidence and pass on the skills of driving safely, considerately and to high traditional standards.

To train your pony to drive you can start by ensuring it is totally obedient to lunge and to voice commands, before being long-reined in a roller or harness. Introduce the harness gradually, especially the blinkers and NEVER attempt to put the pony in a vehicle by yourself, with no one else around.

Ideally, the best way to produce a reliable driving pony is to seek advice from an experienced whip or, better still, send the pony away to be professionally broken to harness; and don’t have it back until it is completely safe to drive.

So what driving equipment do you need for an inexpensive basic turnout? Initially you can start with some webbing harness and a second-hand exercise vehicle. If you and the pony both get hooked then, and only then, go out and spend what you can afford on a better turnout that you could take to a show if you felt so inclined. In addition you will need a driving whip, a set of ‘spares’, a hard hat, proper driving gloves and a driving apron or rug for cold weather. It is also a good idea to have high-visibility tabards for horse and vehicle when driving on public roads.

Finally, if you really take to this driving game and you think that you fancy driving a pair, or even a tandem, why not ask around for another outgrown pony on permanent loan? You could train it to work with your existing pony or simply bring it on as your second string. There will be plenty of grateful mums looking to re-home a well-loved first pony, that they could enjoy watching it perform at national carriage driving events.