Let’s face it: Ponies are undeniably endearing. They’re a delight to the eye and a joy to have around the barn. But unfortunately for our diminutive equine friends, misconceptions abound, so let’s explore four things that you might not know about ponies.
Ponies come in all shapes and sizes
When you think of a pony, do you automatically think of a cute chubby equine with an abundant mane and a glimmer of mischief in its eye? Despite this long-established typecast, ponies actually encompass a rainbow of coat colors, a slew of sizes, and they excel in an array of disciplines. Consider for a moment the myriad pony breeds from which to choose: Shetland ponies, Dales ponies, and POAs; Chincoteague ponies, Exmoor ponies, and four sections of Welsh. There are eye-catching German Riding Ponies and hardy Dartmoors, athletic Connemaras and elegant Welaras—and that’s just the beginning!
Some ponies have an innate affinity for jumping; others have the strength and stamina to excel in driving; others are blessed with the angelic temperament needed to safely carry novice riders. And while 14.2hh is the general benchmark for determining horses versus ponies, type also plays a big part. The Miniature Horse—undoubtedly pony-size at less than 38 inches tall—actually possesses a leg-to-body ratio that is more horse-like than pony-like, while retaining fewer pony characteristics. On the other hand, Connemara ponies can reach up to 15hh, which technically puts some of them over “pony size.” The Connemara’s breed type is, however, undeniably pony-like, regardless of their individual size.
Ponies aren’t just for kids
When it comes to equines, bigger isn’t always better. It’s true that ponies are often an ideal choice for children, thanks to their suitability in terms of size, but ponies are also quite popular with adults. Sometimes horse enthusiasts discover that they’re simply more comfortable on the back of a 14-hand pony than a 17-hand horse, while others appreciate the hardy, healthy nature of ponies. Whether they’re working together in the show ring, in harness, in hand, or out on the trail, ponies and adults are a match made in heaven.
Ponies are kind
Maybe you’ve heard negative comments about ponies from friends at the barn, acquaintances at horse shows, or even perfect strangers at the feed store. “Ponies are mean! Ponies are stubborn! I bought my kid a draft horse instead.” But it really does a disservice to ponies when we lump them all together in one big stereotyped group. Individuals have unique personalities, and these can range from gentle and sweet to bold and inquisitive to sensitive and shy. This is true of ponies, of horses, and even of people. Having interacted with ponies on a daily basis for more than fifteen years, I’ve found their dispositions to be just as pleasant as those of larger horses and the “ponies are mean” reputation is nothing but an unfortunate stereotype.
Ponies aren’t baby horses
While this one may seem obvious, you might be surprised by how many non-horsey people mistakenly believe that a pony is simply a baby that will ultimately become a full-sized horse. But the words “pony” and “foal” aren’t interchangeable, and no matter how long you wait, an 11-hand pony just isn’t going to grow into a 15-hand horse.
How about you? What are some of the common misconceptions that you’ve heard about ponies?
Liked this article? Here’s more on ponies:
Video: French and Saunders – Ponies
Life with Horses: The World According to Ponies
Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow Samantha on Twitter: @miraclewelsh
Thank You for this article, aand it is so true….ponys aare wonderful, but I haave alsso know a few nasty ones.
Ponies so often get a bad rap – but, as you state, the vast majority are worth their weight in gold!
all depends on the training and how they are handled
i agree with #4!!!!!! so true! that is my biggest horse peeve about non horse ppl!!
#4 is so true! Unfortunately, one of my friends still calls foals “ponies”. Even worse: she’s been riding just as long as I have(8 years) and she owns a horse(she’s had it 5 years), and she calls ponies “foals” sometimes!
Loved it. I love ponies and don’t have any misconceptions about them. It can be dangerous to underestimate them!
I used to be guilty of this one……. until I got blessed with the opportunity to hang out with two minis. Ponies an miniatures are useless(mostly the snall ones like shetlands). And I have learned how wrong I was. True I’m too heavy to ride them, but they can still pull carts, learn tricks, and have been excellent groundwork teachers to me! The first green horses I got to train from scratch have been minis(I know thecnically they are horses, but they are still smaller than a larger horse) and it was wonderful! I was less nervous because of their smaller size and they had such wonderful temperments, even when I didn’t do everything exactly perfect right away, they put up with it and in the end taught me a lot about training instead!
How about that you can feed ponies like full size horses? Most people don’t even realize that depending on the breed of horse and what physical requirements you put on your animal are should be part of what determines what you feed him. The ponies I have been around, POAs, POA crosses, & Welsh Mountain Ponies,all would eat themselves to death if you let them. They also seemed to be much more sensitive to fresh grass, bagged feed mixes, too rich of hays, or Alfalfa. I have run across too many who have been foundered over an over in their lives.