Compared to other horses, ponies often exhibit thick manes, tails and overall coat, as well as proportionally shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bone, thicker necks, and shorter heads with broader foreheads. The word pony derives from the old French opulent, meaning foal, a young, immature horse, but this is not the modern meaning; unlike a horse foal, a pony remains small when fully grown.
On occasion, people who are unfamiliar with horses may confuse an adult pony with a foal. The ancestors of most modern ponies developed small stature because they lived on marginally livable horse habitat.
These smaller animals were domesticated and bred for various purposes all over the Northern Hemisphere. Ponies were historically used for driving and freight transport, as children's mounts, for recreational riding, and later than competitors and performers in their own right.
During the Industrial Revolution, particularly in Great Britain, a significant number were used as pit ponies, hauling loads of coal in the mines. Properly trained ponies are appropriate mounts for children who are learning to ride.
In modern use, many organizations define a pony as a mature horse that measures less than 14.3 hands (59 inches, 150 cm) at the withers, but there are a number of exceptions. Different organizations that use a strict measurement model vary from 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm) to nearly 14.3 hands (59 inches, 150 cm).
Many breeds classify an animal as either horse or pony based on pedigree and phenotype, no matter its height. Pony foals are smaller than standard horse foals, but both have long legs and small bodies. For many forms of competition, the official definition of a pony is a horse that measures less than 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) at the withers.
The International Federation for Equestrian Sports defines the official cutoff point at 148 centimeters (58.3 in; 14.2 hands) without shoes and 149 centimeters (58.66 in; 14.2 1 2 hands) with shoes, though allows a margin for competition measurement of up to 150 centimeters (59.1 in; 14.3 hands) without shoes, or 151 centimeters (59.45 in; 14.3 1 2 hands) with shoes. However, the term “pony” can be used in general (or affectionately) for any small horse, regardless of its actual size or breed.
In Australia, horses that measure from 14 to 15 hands (142 to 152 cm; 56 to 60 inches) are known as a Galloway “, and ponies in Australia measure under 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm). While foals that will grow up to be horse-sized may be no taller than some ponies in their first months of life, their body proportions are very different.
While ponies exhibit some Neogene with the wide foreheads and small size, their body proportions are similar to that of an adult horse. Ponies originally developed as a land race adapted to a harsh natural environment, and were considered part of the “draft” subtype typical of Northern Europe.
At one time, it was hypothesized that they may have descended from a wild “draft” subspecies of Equus ferns. Studies of mitochondrial DNA (which is passed on though the female line) indicate that many wild mares have contributed to modern domestic breeds; in contrast, studies of y-DNA (passed down the male line) suggest that there was possibly just one single male ancestor of all domesticated breeds.
Domestication of the horse probably first occurred in the Eurasian steppes with horses of between 13 hands (52 inches, 132 cm) to over 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm), and as horse domestication spread, the male descendants of the original stallion went on to be bred with local wild mares. Domesticated ponies of all breeds originally developed mainly from the need for a working animal that could fulfill specific local draft and transportation needs while surviving in harsh environments.
They are used for children's pony rides at traveling carnivals and at children's private parties where small children can take short rides on ponies that are saddled and then either led individually or hitched to a “pony wheel” (a non-motorized device akin to a hot walker) that leads six to eight ponies at a time. Ponies are sometimes seen at summer camps for children, and are widely used for pony trekking and other forms of Ecotourism riding holidays, often carrying adults as well as children.
Ponies are used for riding Kesäranta pilgrims in India. Ponies are often distinguished by their phenotype, a stocky body, dense bone, round shape and well-sprung ribs.
They have a short head, large eyes and small ears. In addition to being smaller than a horse, their legs are proportionately shorter.
Pony breeds have developed all over the world, particularly in cold and harsh climates where hardy, sturdy working animals were needed. Breeds such as the Connemara pony are recognized for their ability to carry a full-sized adult rider.
Nearly all pony breeds are very hardy, easy keepers that share the ability to thrive on a more limited diet than that of a regular-sized horse, requiring half the hay for their weight as a horse, and often not needing grain at all. Ponies are generally considered intelligent and friendly, though sometimes they also are described as stubborn or cunning.
The differences of opinion often result from an individual pony's degree of proper training. Ponies trained by inexperienced individuals, or only ridden by beginners, can turn out to be spoiled because their riders typically lack the experience base to correct bad habits.
Properly trained ponies are appropriate mounts for children who are learning to ride. The smallest equines are called miniature horses by many of their breeders and breed organizations, rather than ponies, even though they stand smaller than small ponies, usually no taller than 38 inches (97 cm; 9.2 hands) at the withers.
In some breeds, such as the Welsh pony, the horse-versus-pony controversy is resolved by creating separate divisions for consistently horse-sized animals, such as the “Section D” Welsh Cob. The term “pony” is also sometimes used to describe a full-sized horse in a humorous or affectionate sense.
Persons up to 25 years old are eligible for membership, and some members' ponies actually are full-size horses. ^ “PONY MEASUREMENT 2007 30 January 2007 Explanation of Article 3103.1, International Federation for Equestrian Sport Website, Accessed October 7, 2009, Archived 26 July 2011 at the Payback Machine ^ Owlet, Lorna and Philip Mathews, Ponies in Australia, Mil sons Point: 1979 ^ Bennett, Deb (1998).
^ Jansen, Thomas; Forster, Peter; Levine, Marsha A.; Else, Hardy; Hurdles, Matthew; Renfrew, Colin; Weber, Jürgen; Ole, Klaus (6 August 2002). “Limited number of patricides in horse domestication” (PDF).
Book of Horses: A Complete Medical Reference Guide for Horses and Foals, (By members of the faculty and staff, University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.) It is often thought the only difference between horses and ponies is size.
Ponies evolved in harsh environments and are known for their surefootedness which allows them to traverse rough terrain well. Ponies generally live longer than horses.
Ponies teeth take up more space in their head than their brain! Ponies, like people, can get sunburned if they have pink skin exposed.
When spoken to, ponies and horses are thought to distinguish tones rather than specific words. They are proportioned differently than a full-sized horse, with shorter legs, wider barrels, and a thicker neck.
The current miniature horse is bred to be more refined than the pony, with a long, flexible neck, straight legs, and a short back. The roles ponies and minis have played in history have contributed to their current size, appearance, and temperament.
Miniature Horses were originally brought to the United States to work in coal mines, as their small size enabled them to access underground tunnels. They have also been bred in South America over time to develop the current petite and proportional ideal standard, epitomized by the tiny Flagella.
Ponies are stockier and hardier than most horses; they had to survive in harsh climates and on rugged terrain. They first appeared as domesticated stock in the United States the 1800s to be used in coal mines and for agricultural work and driving.
Some Miniature Horses are owned as companions by families with small children or by retired adults with a passion to enjoy life, while others are purchased solely as investments.” Minis have also become increasingly popular therapy animals. Ponies come in a wide variety of breeds, and they are especially popular children’s mounts, competing in just about any type of equestrian sport, whether it be jumping, evening, driving, and more.
In some communities, ponies are still used for farm work because their strength enables them to pull heavy equipment. Though there may always be some wiggle room when it comes to classifying and defining horses, ponies, and Minis, hopefully this clears things up a bit for our petite equine friends.
The one thing that ponies are not, that many people are mistaken about, is that they are not baby horses. Both horses and ponies are of the same species (Equus Catullus) and come from the exact same family tree.
However, ponies stay small their whole life, maturing more quickly than horses. Pony foals are tiny and will rapidly mature to the approximate size of their parents.
Horses are slower growing, some not attaining full mature size until they are six or seven years of age. In fairness to the riders and these mounts, these size standards help prevent ponies and small horses from showing against larger animals, whose size might give them an advantage.
It also isn’t safe to have very small children on tiny ponies riding around the same ring with larger horses. They can be quite wily, which is why it’s sometimes easier to find a quiet horse for a child than a reliable pony.
They can pull or carry heavy loads with more strength than a horse, relative to their size. Their coats tend to grow thicker in the winter, which often doesn’t shed out until the hottest days of summer.
They begin to grow back their thick coats as soon as the days start to shorten. They are heavier boned and shorter legged in proportion to their bodies compared to horses.
In fact, it’s very easy to overfeed a pony, which makes them more prone to founder and laminates than horses. While some horses can be ‘hard keepers’ most ponies are the extreme opposite, apparently putting on weight just looking at the grass on the other side of the fence.