Here you find an overview of pony breeds, their characteristics and distinctions.
Little Ponies, Big Hearts
Ponies are little horses with a maximum height of 14.5 hands (58.2 inch; 148 cm). All horses over 14.5 hands are large horses. Ponies mostly have a significantly thicker mane and a thicker tail than horses. Their legs are shorter, their neck stronger and the head broader. They are very robust, persistent and rather undemanding. Other than warmbloods they require much less concentrated feed. Ponies mostly are very bright and friendly animals. Yet, they can also be stubborn and play tricks on you. But this makes them even more lovable.
* Hands high is the height of a horse, measured from the ground up to the withers, which marks the transition between the neck and the back. It is called hands high, because hands are actually used to measure the height of the animal. Of course you can also use a measuring tape.
Ponies are “Powerhouses”
Ponies are ideal for kids because they are small. But this does not mean that they are weak. Ponies can be rather strong, even stronger than horses (see Shetland pony). Haflinger ponies can even carry a light adult person. Ponies are also excellent coach horses. Mostly, this is their „second job“ when they have become too small for the kids to ride on them.
Where does the Name Come From?
People who are not familiar with horses often do not know whether they are confronted with a pony or a foal. Both animals are fairly small. And this is where the word “pony” comes from. The old French word „poulenet“ (today „pouliner“) means „foal“.
The Smallest Pony
There are two miniature pony breeds: The Falabella and the American miniature horse derive from the Shetland pony, which has been crossbred with other breeds. The smallest living pony is an American miniature horse called Thumbelina. According to the Guinness Book of World Records (2006) it measures just about 4.3 hands (17.5 inch; 44.5 cm) at the withers. This is significantly smaller than a Golden Retriever for example. Incredible!
The most popular pony breeds are:
- Australian Pony
- Hackney Pony
- Connemara Pony
- Dartmoor Pony
- Highland Pony
- German Riding Pony
- Exmoor Pony
- Shetland Pony
- Welsh Pony