As with other ponies, Hackney Ponies are assumed to have gentle temperaments and will be good with children. Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting information as to whether these high performance ponies are suitable for working with children or not. Some claim that they are too aggressive, while others maintain that they have the same calm temperaments as other ponies that find their origins on the moors of southern England. Here we'll take a closer look at whether Hackney Ponies and children should go together.
First, let's take a look at the temperament of the Hackney Pony. There are those that do not recommend the Hackney Pony for young children because they have a tendency to be aggressive and may have some of the negative pony traits like stubbornness or independence. Others claim that like other ponies that come from the same area in England, the Hackney Pony has a calm and gentle temperament. It should be remembered that the two ponies that lent a hand in the development of the Hackney Pony, namely the Fell Pony and the Welsh Pony, are well known for their extraordinary temperaments. Each are considered to be exceedingly gentle and calm, traits that are perfect for children.
Another thing to consider is that the Hackney Pony is mostly bred to become a show horse. These are not necessarily the ponies that one would purchase as a casual pet. Hackney Ponies enjoy working very much and will thrive under training and driving, the most popular discipline that Hackneys participate in. This is not to say that children should not be included if the family is already involved in horse shows or is interested in becoming involved, but those families that are simply looking for a "lawn ornament" would be best to look for a different breed of pony.
While much of this sounds negative, it should be made clear that not all Hackney Ponies are considered unsuitable for children, and those children that are interested in getting involved in horse showing may find a great deal of success with a Hackney Pony. In order to encourage younger riders to get involved with the breed, the American Hackney Horse Society and the AHHS Foundation have been working hand in hand to promote the Hackney Pony for junior riders. The AHHS has enjoyed a great deal of success with its Youth Medallion Series, which is open to riders aged eighteen years and younger and is open in the divisions of Roadster, Pleasure, Hackney/Harness Combination and Roadster Under Saddle. Participants start at a local level and winners advance to a national championship which takes place every November. Not only does the Youth Medallion Series help youngsters learn about show ring skills, but encourages making friends with other kids with the same interests.
The AHHS Foundation also does quite a lot of work in promoting the Hackney Pony and the involvement of children, including publishing a children's activity book and supporting the Youth Medallion Series. They also offer a number of scholarships, including the Road Pony Camp Tuition Scholarship Fund, which an annual prize for the child that sends in the best essay and covers everything but transportation to the Shamrock Farm's Road Pony Camp, and the AHHS Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to high school graduates based on academic success, financial need, and their involvement with Hackney ponies or horses.