Pony Breeds

Looking for the perfect pony? Who isn’t? Good ponies-those who can teach kids the ropes when it comes to horsemanship-are said to be worth their weight in gold.

What exactly is a pony, by definition? How does it differ from what we call a horse? Well, a pony is, in fact, a horse. Ponies are a sub-classification of light horses, which are those used for riding. The main difference between a pony and a horse is that a pony is under 14.
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2 hands. To this end, just about any horse who meets the height requirement can be shown in pony classes. However, there are certain breeds where all the individuals registered must meet pony requirements. These are called pony breeds.

Like other horse breeds, pony breeds vary in size, color, and gait.


While this breed originated in the British Isles, it is now quite popular here in the United States. The Shetland has the distinction of being the smallest of the ponies. While it is certainly possible to learn to ride on a well-trained Shetland pony, their small stature means they are quickly outgrown. They also have a fairly bumpy gait, which makes them not so ideal for riding. But don’t worry, American Shetland ponies have certainly found their niche! As very fancy driving ponies, you can usually find them pulling carts, carriages and buggies. One of the best things about Shetland ponies is that they are able to grow really thick winter coats. To this end, they are ideal ponies for people in cold climates. According to breed standards, Shetlands can be any color, including multicolored patterns such as the Paint horse.


Welsh ponies originated in a part of Great Britain known as Wales. Welsh ponies are considered among the best of the riding ponies, and are known for their smooth gaits and tractable, willing natures. According to breed rules they come in four sizes, which range from 12 to 15 hands. But wait, you say, doesn’t a pony have to be under 14.2 hands in order to be classified as a pony? Good catch! In fact, three of the sizes are actually pony sizes. Horses of the largest Welsh size are considered “cobs,” or small horses. A cob can be just about perfect for a rider who has outgrown their pony, but is still too small for a horse. Because of this the versatile Welsh pony breed is not only ideal for children, but many adults on the small side have enjoyed Welsh cobs as well!


POA stands for Pony of the Americas. This breed was founded in the United States in 1956. Original POAs were developed by cross-breeding Shetland Ponies with Appaloosa horses, as well as Quarter Horses and Arabians. POAs share the breed characteristics of their founding stock, and range in height from 11.2 hands to 13.2 hands. Because of their Appaloosa heritage, they come in a wide variety of coat patterns. POAs work well for both riding and driving.

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