This weekend I took my 3yo daughter for a pony ride. She is very independent and social-able kid and I expected there would be no problem, but she had refused to sit on the pony because were very scared. She didn't even want to touch her. I remember we had the similar experience with kangaroos when she was 2yo - but she was able quickly (in a minute) to overcome the fear and even hugged the roo.

I didn't force her on pony this time, because I felt she was not ready, and we decided to come back two weeks later to take it slow.

The thing is I don't know how to "take it slow with" a ponys/horses? If someone has a similar experience - can you please share.

Thanks a lot.

  • 5
    3 year old humans are small creatures. Kangaroos and ponies are large creatures. I'm kind of siding with the 3 year old on this one.
    – DA01
    Jul 4, 2011 at 3:49
  • @Andrew I'm curious how this worked out for you. Can you post an update? Did any of the answers help you? Jul 29, 2011 at 20:35
  • If anyone's reading this in the future - hugging a roo is an extremely dangerous thing to do. Kangaroos can get very nasty very quickly. Apr 4, 2020 at 9:01

5 Answers 5


It seems from what you say that she does not want to learn to ride a pony. Does she need to?

if not, enjoy the animals from a distance, where they appear to be smaller. Go to zoos and ranges, talk about what you see, but don't approach closer than her comfort distance. Let your daughter decide.

  • Absolutely, no need to push. Instead, in regard to teaching my daughter about overcoming fears, I've tried to make sure she saw me and her father overcoming fears of our own instead of pushing her to do so (I've always been afraid to sing in front of an audience so I took a role that required singing at her theater last spring to do this) Her dad has taken similar steps and we've shared stories about other fears from our own childhoods as well. Nov 17, 2012 at 1:02

Children will be afraid of animals with the following physical qualities:

  • Size (a pony looks cute to an adult, but children might feel threatened)
  • Teeth (a dog eating for example)
  • Nails (a cat playing)
  • Speed (a pet running everywhere)

If your daughter is afraid of one of these, just respect her fears and find another animal to play with. It will pass one day.


I'm still scared of ponies and I'm 40! Couple of the girls at school used to ride them to school so they'd be tethered up in the bike sheds - aggressive little things.

Anyway - I wouldn't force her. If she asks to learn, support her and help her through the fears by pointing out the good things and avoiding drawing attention to the fact they are big, heavy, fast, can kick and bite etc.


We started them off by taking them on Donkey rides. I don't know why, I have no scientific explanation, but DOnkeys were considered OK by the kids as affable, kind, gentle thinhgs, whilst Horses highly strung. Once they gained enopugh confidence from donkey rides, we took them to a small stable who did rides around a sandy yard, and from there, they now ride happily.

I would suggest the donkey route, but read some Winnie the Pooh to her forst, especially that old loveable softy Eeyore


Would it be possible for you to ride a small horse or large pony first? Then perhaps she could ride on the horse with you.

As the oldest of 7 children in a horse loving family, that is the pattern that we used to introduce the younger children to riding independently.

The security of riding with a trusted caregiver who enjoyed riding themselves gave even the youngest child the confidence they needed to experience the joys of horseback riding.

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