Pony

Last updated
A Highland Pony, demonstrating the pony characteristics of sturdy bone, a thick mane and tail, a small head, and small overall size. Gracie-rhs2005.jpg
A Highland Pony, demonstrating the pony characteristics of sturdy bone, a thick mane and tail, a small head, and small overall size.

A pony is a small horse ( Equus ferus caballus). Depending on the context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. A pony is typically under the height of 14.2 hands high. There are many different breeds. 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 poulenet, 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.

Contents

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 as 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.

Ponies are generally considered intelligent and friendly. They are sometimes also described as stubborn or cunning. Properly trained ponies are appropriate mounts for children who are learning to ride. Larger ponies can be ridden by adults, as ponies are usually strong for their size. 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. Some full-sized horses may be called ponies as a term of endearment.

A group of ponies is called "a string of ponies," which dates back to a mention in the 15th century Harley Manuscript. [1]

Horses and ponies

A pony foal. Pony foals are smaller than standard horse foals, but both have long legs and small bodies. SackOTatersPony.jpg
A pony foal. 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. Standard horses are 14.2 or taller. The International Federation for Equestrian Sports defines the official cutoff point at 148 centimetres (58.3 in; 14.2 hands) without shoes and 149 centimetres (58.66 in; 14.2 12 hands) with shoes, though allows a margin for competition measurement of up to 150 centimetres (59.1 in; 14.3 hands) without shoes, or 151 centimetres (59.45 in; 14.3 12 hands) with shoes. [2] However, the term "pony" can be used in general (or affectionately) for any small horse, regardless of its actual size or breed. Furthermore, some horse breeds may have individuals who mature under that height but are still called "horses" and are allowed to compete as horses. 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). [3]

History

Ponies originally developed as a landrace 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 ferus. [4] Studies of mitochondrial DNA (which is passed on though the female line) indicate that a large number of wild mares have contributed to modern domestic breeds; [5] [6] 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. [7] 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), [8] and as horse domestication spread, the male descendants of the original stallion went on to be bred with local wild mares. [7] [8]

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. The usefulness of the pony was noted by farmers who observed that a pony could outperform a draft horse on small farms. [9]

By the 20th century, many pony breeds had Arabian and other blood added to make a more refined pony suitable for riding. [10]

Uses

An Australian Pony shown under saddle Horse riding in coca cola arena - melbourne show 2005.jpg
An Australian Pony shown under saddle
A Shetland pony shown in harness Shetland Pony in Harness and Cart.gif
A Shetland pony shown in harness

In many parts of the world ponies are used as working animals, as pack animals and for pulling various horse-drawn vehicles. They are seen in many different equestrian pursuits. Some breeds, such as the Hackney pony, are primarily used for driving, while other breeds, such as the Connemara pony and Australian Pony, are used primarily for riding. Others, such as the Welsh pony, are used for both riding and driving. There is no direct correlation between a horse's size and its inherent athletic ability. [11]

Characteristics

The Shetland pony is one of the smallest pony breeds, but is very strong. Shetlands in Belgium.jpg
The Shetland pony is one of the smallest pony breeds, but is very strong.

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. They have strong hooves and grow a heavier hair coat, seen in a thicker mane and tail as well as a particularly heavy winter coat. [12]

Pony breeds have developed all over the world, particularly in cold and harsh climates where hardy, sturdy working animals were needed. They are remarkably strong for their size. Breeds such as the Connemara pony are recognized for their ability to carry a full-sized adult rider. Pound for pound ponies can pull and carry more weight than a horse. [12] Draft-type ponies are able to pull loads significantly greater than their own weight, with larger ponies capable of pulling loads comparable to those pulled by full-sized draft horses, and even very small ponies are able to pull as much as 450 percent of their own weight. [13]

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. However, for the same reason, they are also more vulnerable to laminitis and Cushing's syndrome. They may also have problems with hyperlipemia. [12]

Ponies are generally considered intelligent and friendly, though sometimes they also are described as stubborn or cunning. [12] 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. Larger ponies can be ridden by adults, as ponies are usually strong for their size. [12]

The Connemara pony is a larger pony which occasionally matures over 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). Connemara mare.jpg
The Connemara pony is a larger pony which occasionally matures over 14.2  hands (58 inches, 147 cm).

For showing purposes, ponies are often grouped into small, medium, and large sizes. Small ponies are 12.2  hands (50 inches, 127 cm) and under, medium ponies are over 12.2 but no taller than 13.2 hands (54 inches, 137 cm), and large ponies are over 13.2 hands (54 inches, 137 cm) but no taller than 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm).

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, [12] usually no taller than 38 inches (97 cm; 9.2 hands ) at the withers. However, there are also miniature pony breeds.

Breeds and types that are not ponies

The full-sized horses used for polo are called "polo ponies," even though they are taller than ponies. Polo2.JPG
The full-sized horses used for polo are called "polo ponies," even though they are taller than ponies.

Some horse breeds are not defined as ponies, even when they have some animals that measure under 14.2  hands (58 inches, 147 cm). This is usually due to body build, traditional uses and overall physiology. Breeds that are considered horses regardless of height include the Arabian horse, American Quarter Horse and the Morgan horse, all of which have individual members both over and under 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm).

The Icelandic horse is considered a horse, not a pony, by those who own and breed them. Gammur.jpg
The Icelandic horse is considered a horse, not a pony, by those who own and breed them.

Other horse breeds, such as Icelandic horse and Fjord horse, may sometimes be pony-sized or have some pony characteristics, such as a heavy coat, thick mane, and heavy bone, but are generally classified as "horses" by their respective registries. [12] In cases such as these, there can be considerable debate over whether to call certain breeds "horses" or "ponies." However, individual breed registries usually are the arbiters of such debates, weighing the relative horse and pony characteristics of a breed. 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.

Some horses may be pony height due to environment more than genetics. For example, the Chincoteague pony, a feral horse that lives on Assateague Island off the coast of Virginia, often matures to the height of an average small horse when raised from a foal under domesticated conditions. [14]

There is debate over whether the feral Chincoteague ponies of Assateague Island are horses or ponies Feralpony.jpg
There is debate over whether the feral Chincoteague ponies of Assateague Island are horses or ponies

Conversely, the term "pony" is occasionally used to describe horses of normal height. Horses used for polo are often called "polo ponies" regardless of height, even though they are often of Thoroughbred breeding and often well over 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). American Indian tribes also have the tradition of referring to their horses as "ponies," when speaking in English, even though many of the Mustang horses they used in the 19th century were close to or over 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm), and most horses owned and bred by Native peoples today are of full horse height. The term "pony" is also sometimes used to describe a full-sized horse in a humorous or affectionate sense.

The United States Pony Club defines "pony" to be any mount that is ridden by a member regardless of its breed or size. Persons up to 25 years old are eligible for membership, and some of the members' "ponies" actually are full-size horses.

See also

Related Research Articles

Horse Domesticated four-footed mammal from the equine family

The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior.

Donkey Domesticated member of the horse family

The donkey or ass is a domesticated member of the horse family, Equidae. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus. The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years. There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as draught or pack animals. Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels. Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries.

Draft horse A type of horse or a horse breed bred to be a working animal doing heavy labor

A draft horse (US), draught horse (UK) or dray horse, less often called a carthorse, work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor. There are a number of breeds, with varying characteristics, but all share common traits of strength, patience, and a docile temperament which made them indispensable to generations of pre-industrial farmers.

Miniature horse

Miniature horses are horses defined by their small height. They can be found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas, and are the result of centuries of selective breeding. Depending on the particular breed registry involved, the height of these horses is usually less than 34–38 inches (86–97 cm) as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are found at the withers. While miniature horses fit a height-based definition to be considered a very small pony, many retain horse characteristics and are considered "horses" by their respective registries. They have various colors and coat patterns.

Withers The ridge between the shoulder blades of an animal, typically a quadruped

The withers is the ridge between the shoulder blades of an animal, typically a quadruped. In many species, it is the tallest point of the body. In horses and dogs, it is the standard place to measure the animal's height. In contrast, cattle are often measured to the top of the hips.

Gypsy horse

The Gypsy Cob, also known as the Traditional Gypsy cob, Irish Cob, Gypsy Horse or Gypsy Vanner, is a type or breed of domestic horse from the islands Great Britain and Ireland. It is a small, solidly-built horse of cob conformation and is often, but not always, piebald or skewbald; it is particularly associated with Irish Travellers and English Romanichal Travellers of Ireland and Great Britain. There was no stud-book or breed association for horses of this type until 1996. It is now considered a breed and can be registered by the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association (TGCA)..

Highland pony

The Highland Pony is a native Scottish pony, and is one of the largest of the mountain and moorland pony breeds of the British Isles. Its pedigree dates back to the 1880s. It was once a workhorse in the Scottish mainland and islands, but today is used for driving, trekking and general riding. They are hardy and tough, they rarely require shoeing, and are economical to keep.

Dales pony

The Dales pony is one of the United Kingdom's native mountain and moorland pony breeds. The breed is known for its strength, hardiness, stamina, courage, intelligence, and good disposition. The history of the modern Dales pony is strongly linked to the history of lead mining in the Dales area of Yorkshire, and it was originally a working pony descended from a number of breeds. A breed registry was created in 1916, and the breed was used extensively by the British Army in both world wars. The Dales pony almost became extinct during the Second World War, but post-war conservation efforts have had some success in rebuilding the population. Today it is used for many different activities, but population numbers are still low and this has led to it being considered "critical" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and "threatened" by The Livestock Conservancy.

Exmoor pony

The Exmoor pony is a horse breed native to the British Isles, where some still roam as semi-feral livestock on Exmoor, a large area of moorland in Devon and Somerset in southwest England. The Exmoor has been given "endangered" status by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and "threatened" status by The Livestock Conservancy. It is one of the British Isles' mountain and moorland pony breeds, having conformation similar to that of other cold-weather-adapted pony breeds. The Exmoor pony is hardy and used for a variety of equestrian activities. In its free-roaming state, the breed's presence on Exmoor contributes to the conservation and management of several natural pasture habitats.

The Welara is a part-Arabian pony breed developed from the Arabian horse and the Welsh pony. It was originally bred in England by Lady Wentworth at the Crabbet Arabian Stud in the early 1900s from imported Arabian stallions and Welsh pony mares. Breeding then spread throughout North America. In 1981, a breed registry was formed in the United States, and a studbook began to be published. They are used for many disciplines of English riding, and are known for their refinement, hardiness and spirit.

Falabella

The Falabella is an Argentine breed of small horse. It is among the smallest of horse breeds, with a height at the withers in the range 63–86 cm (25–34 in)..

The Lokai, a mountain horse bred in Tajikistan, is used as a riding horse, a packhorse, or even sometimes a light draft horse. Although small, the breed is agile and hardy. The breed was developed by crossing native mountain horses with a mixture of Central Asian and European bloodlines.

Cob (horse)

A cob is traditionally a draft type pony. Should be of a stout build, with strong bones, large joints, and steady disposition; it is a body type of horse rather than a specific breed. Historically, in the United Kingdom and, to a lesser extent, the eastern United States, a 'cob' may be a common horse used for everyday riding but in the past was used for driving carts.

Bardigiano

The Bardigiano is a breed of small horse from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. It takes its name from the town of Bardi, in the Apennines of Parma, and is principally associated with the surrounding area and the Valle del Ceno. The mountain environment and steep, rough terrain of the area have contributed to produce a robust, hardy breed, agile and sure-footed over difficult ground. Although some males and all females are under 14.2 hands, the Bardigiano is always considered a horse in its home country. The stud book was established in 1977, and is held by the Associazione Provinciale Allevatori, the regional animal breeders' association, of Parma. The breed is widely distributed in Italy, with breeders in 26 Italian provinces; a recent study examined 3556 stud book entries for living horses. Due to these relatively large numbers, the breed is not considered to be at risk of extinction, but is classed as "vulnerable".

Show hack

The show hack is a type of ridden show horse, exhibited to a standard first established in England.

Mountain and moorland pony breeds

Mountain and moorland ponies form a group of several breeds of ponies and small horses native to the British Isles. Many of these breeds are derived from semiferal ponies kept on moorland or heathland, and some of them still live in this way, as well as being kept as fully domesticated horses for riding, driving, and other draught work, or for horse showing.

Heck horse Horse breed

The Heck horse is a horse breed that is claimed to resemble the tarpan, an extinct wild equine. The breed was created by the German zoologist brothers Heinz Heck and Lutz Heck in an attempt to breed back the tarpan. Although unsuccessful at creating a genetic copy of the extinct species, they developed a breed with grullo coloration and primitive markings. Heck horses were subsequently exported to the United States, where a breed association was created in the 1960s.

Quarter Pony American breed of horse

The Quarter Pony is a breed of pony that is similar to the American Quarter Horse. It stands up to 14.2 hands high and was developed from American Quarter Horse foundation bloodstock. The breed was originally developed from Quarter Horses that did not meet the American Quarter Horse Association's height requirement. It is bred to look like a small Quarter Horse, although the various registries also allow crosses with other breeds, including Paint horse, Appaloosa and Pony of the Americas, all stock types. There are three registries for the Quarter Pony, all with slightly different registration requirements. The first registry was begun in 1964, and two more were started in the 1970s. The breed is used today in a variety of Western riding disciplines.

Glossary of equestrian terms List of definitions of terms and concepts related to horses

This is a basic glossary of equestrian terms that includes both technical terminology and jargon developed over the centuries for horses and other equidae, as well as various horse-related concepts. Where noted, some terms are used only in American English (US), only in British English (UK), or are regional to a particular part of the world, such as Australia (AU).

British Spotted pony

The British Spotted is a small pony breed originating in England. It has existed for several centuries. The main distinguishing feature of the breed is its leopard-spotted colouration. The height at withers varies greatly, between 8 hands and 14.2 hands. An even larger horse-type variant existed, but is nowadays considered to belong to the Appaloosa breed. The breed is unique for its unusual colouration and origins, and is rare with only about 800 registered animals.

References

  1. Lipton, James (1991). An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition of More Than 1,000 Terms. Viking. p. 21. ISBN   9780670300440.
  2. "PONY MEASUREMENT 2007 30 January 2007 " Explanation of Article 3103.1, FInternational Federation for Equestrian Sport Web site, Accessed October 7, 2009 Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Owlet, Lorna and Phlip Mathews, Ponies in Australia, Milsons Point: 1979
  4. Bennett, Deb (1998). Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship (First ed.). Solvang, CA: Amigo Publications, Inc. p. 7. ISBN   0-9658533-0-6. OCLC   39709067.
  5. Jansen, Thomas; Forster, Peter; Levine, Marsha A.; Oelke, Hardy; Hurles, Matthew; Renfrew, Colin; Weber, Jürgen; Olek, Klaus (6 August 2002). "Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic horse". PNAS. 99 (16): 10905–10910. doi:10.1073/pnas.152330099. PMC   125071 . PMID   12130666.
  6. Widespread; Horse Lineages, Domestic (2001). "Widespread origins of domestic horse lineages". Science. 291 (5503): 474–7. doi:10.1126/science.291.5503.474. PMID   11161199.
  7. 1 2 Lindgren; et al. (2004). "Limited number of patrilines in horse domestication" (PDF). Nature Genetics. 36 (4): 335. doi:10.1038/ng1326. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-17.
  8. 1 2 Anthony, David W. (2007). The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. 196–197, 202. ISBN   978-0-691-05887-0.
  9. Smith, E.C.A. "The Pony Useful" Country Life in America, volume 29. Doubleday, Page & Co., 1916 pp.46-47
  10. Sponenberg, D. Phillip (1996). "The Proliferation of Horse Breeds". Horses Through Time (First ed.). Boulder, CO: Roberts Rinehart Publishers. pp.  155, 170–173. ISBN   1-57098-060-8. OCLC   36179575.
  11. Barakat, Christine. "Why Size Matters." Equus, October 2007, Issue 361, pp. 36-42
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Pony Power!".
  13. McNeill, Erin. "Ponies at Boone County Fair pull their weight and then some" Missourian, July 27, 2010 Archived January 19, 2013, at Archive.today
  14. "Assateague National Seashore - Wild Horses". Archived from the original on 2010-05-13. Retrieved 2010-05-10.