Ponies transform a children’s party into a magical experience. Stables that own gentle, laid-back horses and ponies might have an opportunity to expand their services by offering pony rides either at your farm or on location at the child’s birthday party.
Karen Matthews owns Pony Party Express near Mansfield, Ohio. She provides up to three ponies for birthday parties. For on-farm parties, renters have access to facilities that include swings, a pool, a campfire pit, tables and chairs and a BBQ. Other party planners choose to have the horses travel to their locations. In those situations, Matthews’ fee covers mailings, advertising and all of the supplies needed.
“We like to decorate the ponies to match the party theme, so our fee includes the glitter for their manes and hooves or things like a unicorn horn,” she said. “Sometimes we even have the children decorate the ponies unless the parents want it to be a surprise.”
The success of a pony party hinges on reliable helpers. Matthews hires experienced teenagers who love horses and kids.
“You have to pay them well enough to encourage them to stay around,” she said. “The girls who work for me usually stay through high school until they leave for college.”
Employees not only assist with bathing and cleaning tack, but also as horse handlers and side-walkers while the kids ride.
“The little kids sometimes will bail part-way through the ride, and you have to be ready to hang on to them,” she said.
Often the families who hire stables to provide pony rides have little or no horse experience. Establishing safety protocols to keep the horses and riders safe is important. You also need to have an appropriate insurance policy and a liability form.
“Each of the parents is required to sign our liability form that allows the children to ride,” she said.
With the right ponies and the right helpers, providing ponies for birthday parties can be a fun and rewarding experience that can add to your equine business’ bottom line.