No, a pony is not a baby horse. Although ponies and horses belong to the same species, Equus caballus, there are several key differences between them. In this post, we walk you through the major differences between ponies and horses.
Even when they’re fully grown, ponies are typically smaller than horses. Animals are generally considered ponies if they’re shorter than 14 hands for Western riding and 14.2 hands for English. One hand is equivalent to 4 inches.
There are many exceptions to this rule. Among some pony breeds, such as the Welsh pony, a few individuals exceed the height limit while still being considered ponies. In the same vein, some horse breeds, like the American Quarter Horse, include full-grown horses shorter than 14 hands.
There are even some horse breeds that are always “pony-sized,” like the Icelandic horse. The most glaring exception to the size rule is the miniature horse, which has a maximum height of only 34 inches. Mini horses are considered horses because they more closely resemble horses than ponies.
Ponies tend to have different proportions and bone structure than horses. Overall, ponies are stockier, with a wide chest and short legs, while horses have a leaner build. Ponies’ bones are also heavier and denser.
In general, ponies have a short neck and short, thick head with a broad forehead. They also have smaller ears than horses. By contrast, horses display a long neck and head with large ears and wide nostrils.
Coat, Hardiness, and Strength
Due to their origins in cold, harsh climates, ponies tend to have a coarser and thicker coat, mane, and tail than horses. Their coat is thicker in the wintertime and only sheds briefly in the summer. These hardy equines also have tougher hooves than horses.
On the other hand, horses typically have finer hair and a softer mane and tail. Breeds originating in warm regions, in particular, tend to have thin coats. Draft breeds may have thicker coats.
Ponies are very strong and call pull or carry a heavier load relative to their size compared to horses. They can even sometimes pull as much weight as a large draft horse.
Other Differences Between Ponies and Horses
The majority of ponies are easy keepers, which means that they do not need to be fed much and gain weight easily. In fact, ponies sometimes suffer from health problems due to obesity. Although some horses are also easy keepers, others struggle to gain weight.
Ponies reach their mature size rapidly, while horses grow more slowly. Ponies also often have a longer life span than horses. Although horses typically live until they’re 20 to 30 years old, ponies may survive beyond 30 and even into their forties.
Ponies are also often believed to have a different temperament than horses. They’re likely to be intelligent, stubborn, and good at avoiding work. Horses, on the other hand, are often quieter and more docile, although personality varies depending on the breed.
Did you gain a better understanding of the relationship between ponies and horses? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.