Although there are short and light adults riding ponies, pony saddles are most of the time used by children. And while you can find as many pony saddles types as they are for Western or English regular sized horses, some particularities need to be taken into concern before buying a pony saddle.
To start with, always remember that a pony saddle has shorter stirrups, skirts and seat so that the child fits securely. They are also lighter and tend to be less expensive than regular size ones.
As mentioned above, the answer will probably be a child. If it is the case, then the person who is more likely to buy it is a parent. As a parent who might not be an expert in horseback riding, please make sure you evaluate the needs properly by answering those first questions:
Is your child less than 80 pounds? If your child is less than 80 pounds, a pony saddle might be the right choice.
Is your child very young and has barely any experience? A very young child with barely any experience would be better off with a saddle constructed for this particular need. It has hand supports and removable panels to secure a child in the seat.
Will your child be riding ponies for many years or is he/she almost grown up? An almost grown up kid or one who grows up very fast is more likely to ride regular sized horse sooner than later. A pony saddle might turn out to be very expensive in comparison to the amount of time it will be used. If you still buy one, consider its value as used saddle so that you’ll be able selling it when it becomes too small.
It is also very important to choose the right saddle size. If you are more interested in that particular topic, I wrote the post The Right Saddle Size for You. There is a section dedicated to child and pony sizing.
#2 What Kind of Pony will your Child Most Likely Ride: a Large Pony, a Very Small One or a Short but Wide Back One?
Unlike regular sized horses, most ponies tend to be very short but with wide backs. If it is the case, you will have to find a saddle that fits the back of the horse in order to not hurt the pony or put a child in danger because of a pony’s lack of comfort. So it is not only to find a saddle with shorter stirrups but one that will fit the type of rider and horse.
As for large ponies, they can be defined as being almost the size of a regular horse. A regular saddle might then fit on the horse, especially if it is ridden by a grown up child or a particularly tall kid.
#3 Why I Recommend Buying an All-Purpose Second Hand Saddle?
No matter if your child is into Western or English horseback riding, I strongly recommend buying an all-purpose saddle for a child. At the age of riding ponies, it is very unusual that the child has a clear idea of which discipline interests him or her the most. All-purpose saddle can fit for almost all disciplines in the two principle styles of riding and often offer deeper seats that seem safer for children as they help keeping the right balance and stability for beginners.
As for the second hand term, I always find it is better to buy a better saddle that is used than a cheaper one that is new. Good quality matters more than new materials. Also, they are less expensive. And since your child will be growing and needing a bigger saddle, you might enjoy saving a little on that expense. For a full explanation of the pros and cons of used versus new, feel free to read my post on that very matter: Second Hand Saddles Vs New: The Pros and Cons.