Many distinct pony breeds exist around the world, each with its own set of physical traits and individual character. In this article, we’ll show you 19 of the most popular types of ponies, and we guarantee you’ll fall in love with at least one of them. Here, you will find various ponies suitable for riding, driving, showing, or simply admiring. Let’s dive headfirst into Canvas Personalized‘s fascinating world of ponies.
Pony Breeds: What They Are and How They Differ from Horses
Ponies are small equines that belong to the same species as horses, Equus caballus. However, ponies are not just young or immature horses, as some people may think. They are a distinct type of equine that has different characteristics and traits from horses.
The size of a pony might be significantly smaller than that of a horse. The average height of a pony is less than 14.2 hands (58 inches or 147 cm) at the withers. Although there may be exceptions among some horse breeds, most horses stand at a height of 14.2 hands or more. Some Arabian horses, for instance, may be under 14.2 hands in height, but they are still horses due to their other characteristics.
The physical characteristics of a pony’s body are different from those of a horse. Ponies are better adapted to colder regions than horses because they have thicker coats, manes, and tails. They differ from horses in having shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bones, and bigger heads and eyes. Ponies are capable of carrying more weight in comparison to their body mass since they are more muscular and stronger than horses of the same size.
The temperament of ponies is likewise distinct from that of horses. Ponies are known to be more self-reliant, headstrong, and smart than horses. They are more challenging to teach and handle, but once they bond with their owners, they are devoted and loving companions. Ponies are more versatile than horses and can be trained to excel in a number of different equestrian sports, including driving, jumping, dressage, endurance, and racing.
So, how many pony breeds are there? The scientific community, breed associations, and the general public all use different definitions and criteria for what defines a pony. However, according to Caballo Horsemarket data, there are currently a total of 159 breeds. Our pony breeds list below will provide valuable insights into the world of equine diversity.
19 Most Popular Pony Breeds in the World (with Pictures)
1. American Shetland
The stunning and adaptable American Shetland pony has its roots in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. The classic Shetland pony is short and stocky. But the American Shetland pony, which has been crossbred with other breeds such as the Hackney, the Welsh, and the Arabian, is much taller and more polished.
The American Shetland Pony Club was established in 1888 as the registry for imported ponies and for the breed’s continued development in the United States. At present, the club recognizes four distinct breeds: the Classic, the Modern, the American Show, and the National Show Pony.
The American Shetland pony is versatile and capable of performing riding, driving, and even service work. It’s also the most common type of pony in the US.
This is a breed of ponies that originated in the region of Asturias in northern Spain. They have a long and rich history, dating back to the times of the Roman Empire. However, the FAO classified the Asturcon as “endangered-maintained” in 2007.
The Asturcon pony is a small pony breed but hardy equine, standing at an average of approximately 4 feet (11.2 to 12.2 hands) and weighing about 250 to 275 kg. They are known for their distinctive appearance and gait. Its coat is completely black with no white markings, and its mane and tail are thick. Its hooves are tough and perfectly shaped for navigating the rocky landscapes.
3. Bashkir Curly
The Bashkir Curly is the only breed of horse that is hypoallergenic, meaning it will not cause an allergic reaction in people who are normally sensitive to horses. Their signature curls can vary in thickness and density, so you won’t always see them covering every inch of their bodies. Some may have only slightly curly hair on their ears and legs, while others may have a full head of curls. They typically range in height from 14 to 16 hands, though smaller individuals have been recorded.
The Bosnian Pony belongs to the Balkan breeds of horses, which are believed to have originated from the ancient Tarpan and the Asian Wild Horse. This pony has a height of 12.1 to 14 hands and can be found in various colors, such as bay, brown, black, gray, chestnut, or palomino. It has a large head with a straight nose, a short and strong neck, a flat back, a sloping shoulder, and a wide chest.
The Bosnian Pony is a versatile and useful animal that can do many tasks, such as light farm and draft work, packing, and riding. It can carry heavy loads on rough terrain where vehicles cannot go. It is also resilient and durable, and it has a gentle and calm personality that makes it easy to handle and ride.
5. Camargue Pony
The Camargue pony is a “borderline case.” Some people would identify them as horses, although most exhibit more typical pony traits. The Camargue is classified here as a pony because it has developed more pony-like features via selective breeding in recent decades. They get its name from the Camargue region of southern France, which is noted for its saline marshes and has been home to “white horses” for centuries.
As one might expect from a horse that has evolved to thrive in swampy environments, Camargue ponies stand at roughly 14 hands and have a stocky build, a medium-length neck, powerful legs, solid joints, and broad hooves. The back is medium-length, and the mane and the tail are thick. They’re as comfortable in the water as a duck in a pond and have a lot of energy.
The Connemara pony (Irish: Capaillín Chonamara) is a proud and beautiful breed from Ireland. It has a variety of coat colors, from cream to palomino, but never pinto. This pony is known as the largest of the world’s pony breeds, reaching from 13 to 15 hands in height.
The Connemara pony is a versatile and talented sport pony that can compete in different disciplines, such as show jumping, dressage, and eventing. It is especially good at jumping and can challenge bigger horses in show jumping and international events.
One of the native mountain and moorland pony breeds in the United Kingdom is the Dales pony. Even though it serves a variety of purposes today, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust now classifies it as “endangered” due to its decreasing population.
Dales Pony is about 14 hands tall and has a black coat that shines in the sun. They’re renowned for their bravery, bravery, and pleasant demeanor.
The Dartmoor Pony originated in Devon, England. Its lengthy history of survival in harsh and rugged environments has given it a tough, versatile disposition. This pony breed has a neat head, large eyes, and alert ears. It has a compact body with a deep chest, muscular shoulders, and powerful legs. It can be any solid color except piebald or skewbald. The Dartmoor Pony is known for its kind and gentle temperament, making it a suitable breed for children and novice riders.
The Dartmoor Commoners Council is dedicated to preserving the Dartmoor Pony, one of the nine native horse breeds of the British Isles. They are owned and managed by the local authorities. The number of registered this breed has declined significantly since the World Wars, but efforts are being made to preserve and promote this ancient and versatile breed.
The Dulmen is a small German wild pony breed. They are one of the oldest pony breeds in Europe. They have a strong survival instinct and a high resistance to diseases.
The Dulmens are typically 12-13 hands tall. The majority are a standard dun color, but there are also bay, black, and chestnut examples. The short necks and sloping backs are distinguishing features. The medium-sized head of this breed is characterized by short ears and a somewhat domed appearance.
The Eriskay Pony is native to Scotland’s Western Isles. They are one of the rarest pony breeds in the world, with only about 300–400 individuals left. The typical Eriskay is 12.2 hands tall, with the noted feature of resembling a horse in gait rather than a pony.
The grey coloration of the Eriskay Pony is easily recognizable and can range in intensity. The foals are born with a black coat that fades to grey as they mature. The thick, waterproof coat of the Eriskay Pony serves as insulation against the cold and harsh weather. They are gentle and smooth to ride, making them ideal for children.
In the Italian province of Frosinone, Lazio, a unique pony breed has been developed over the centuries. The Esperia Pony, or Pony di Esperia in Italian, is the only native pony breed in Italy, and one of the 15 horse breeds that are protected by the Italian Horse Breeders’ Association (AIA).
The Esperia Pony has a striking black coat that shines in the sun. Only the mares may have some white markings on their legs or heads, but the stallions must be completely black. The Esperia Pony is a lively, alert, and gentle breed, that can adapt to different terrains and climates. It is a perfect choice for riders who want a pony that is between 13 and 14 hands tall.
The Exmoor Pony is a rare and ancient breed that has lived on the wild and windy moors of southwestern England for thousands of years. They have adapted to the harsh environment, becoming one of the toughest pony breeds in the world.
The Exmoors have a distinctive coat color that sets it apart from other breeds. They are mostly brown, but some have a lighter shade that is close to dun. They also have a dark stripe along their spine, called a mealy, and pale rings around their eyes, called toad eyes. These features help them blend in with their surroundings and protect them from predators.
Because of its quick, well-balanced trot, the Fell Pony makes an excellent driving pony. It’s also got the guts, tenacity, and endurance to get through whatever comes its way. It has shown its mettle in the extremely challenging sport of combination driving and the inter-breed obstacle driving competition started by HRH Prince Philip at the Royal Windsor Horse Shows.
Fell ponies are small and powerful, standing at a maximum of 14 hands in height. The head is rather small, yet the forehead is broad, and the muzzle is narrow. Its large, bright eyes are a reflection of its wit and good nature. Its sloping shoulder makes for a smooth ride.
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The Galician pony is a type of horse native to that region of Spain. It has supposedly influenced the Mustang and the Mexican Galiceno breed. These ponies are as tough as they come. They stand between 1.20 and 1.40 meters tall, with a compact build and powerful legs. Presently, the Galician government is trying to boost the wild stock population by regulating and protecting this breed.
The Highland Pony originated in Scotland. When compared to other types of British ponies, this pony stands out as the largest and most powerful. The Highlands have ancestors that date back to the 1880s. It is also one of the best pony breeds for adults, as it can carry heavy loads and riders with ease.
The Highland Pony has a stunning variety of colors that make them stand out from other breeds. They can be dun, gray, mouse, yellow, gold, cream, or fox, with different shades and patterns. These ponies are easy to care for, as they thrive on rough grassland and natural shelter. They are long-lived and healthy, with no genetic diseases or defects.
16. New Forest
The New Forest Pony is a native breed that comes from mountainous and moorland areas of the British Isles. They are medium-sized ponies, standing between 12 and 14.2 hands tall. They are intelligent and love to interact with humans.
The New Forest Pony is a versatile and talented breed that can do many things. They are are also capable jumpers and excel at mounted sports. This breed has long been raced locally and is swift even over tough terrain, making it suitable for dressage, polo, long-distance riding, cross-country events, and more.
17. Pony of the Americas – POA
Originally, the Pony of the Americas breed was an amalgam of many pony breeds and strains, but through careful selective breeding, the breed has been refined into a true breed. As a modern American sports pony breed, the POA has gained a devoted following not only in the United States but all around the world.
There is a lot of variety in the Pony of the Americas’ coat patterns. The blanket pattern is one of the most common and is distinguished by a white “blanket” over the hips and back and by dark dots. Others may have the blanket in its “snow-capped” form, which lacks the black patches.
The Shetland Pony is a native of Scotland’s Shetland Islands and is known for being one of the most adaptable domesticated animal species. Along with other small local pony breeds, such as the Welsh Pony and the Dartmoor Pony, they were employed to pull carts filled with coal from underground to the surface of mines.
Because they were used in the mines from dawn until after nightfall, some pit ponies never saw the light of day. Some mines even had underground stalls for their ponies. In 1999, the last pit pony was finally retired.
19. Welsh Pony
These ponies belong to one of the four pony breeds that originated in Wales. Don’t be fooled by their small stature, the Welsh ponies are reliable, swift, and strong companions. They stand no taller than 13.2 hands, but they come in all shapes and sizes, from slender to sturdy.
They have proven themselves worthy of a spot in the show ring, where they can be ridden or driven. If you own a Welsh pony, you will never be bored by their lively personalities.
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As we come to a close on our fascinating tour of these 19 best ponies, we hope you’ve learned as much and been as enchanted as we have. Nature’s diversity and beauty are on full display in the world of pony breeds, which range from the refined Arabian to the dependable Welsh. Stay tuned for more equine delights on Canvas Personalized if you’ve fallen in love with any of these incredible breeds or want to grow a deeper understanding of the horse world.