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HorseShowCentral > Horse Breeds > Pony Breeds

Ponies - Breeds, Show & Rare Ponies

Two children and a pony.
Breeds of Ponies are listed lower on this page. Click on each for breed history, modern day use and photos.

A Pony Breed Means What?

All Ponies can be called a horse, because they belong to the same species.

The world today has many breeds and/or types; in referring to some of them ass ponies, varying aspects and standards are applied by scientists, breed associations, or the general public.

We at HorseShowCentral do not wish to even try to stipulate what any animal should be called.  If various breeds are considered ponies but are called otherwise by the respective association or registry, the reader is likely to find such an animal included on both of our lists. This is  because we at HSC wish to honor the association’s preferences while we also wish to display breeds listed in such a way as to allow readers to easily locate them on this site. HSC does most certainly however, endeavor to present truthful information, including scientific, genetic, historical, and modern day information.  More

Pony Breeds of the World

The following links will take the reader to pages pertaining to BREEDS of PONIES:
American ShetlandAmerican Shetland
The American Shetland is more refined than the original Shetland, with three categories at present: Modern, American Show, and National Show Pony.
The black Asturcon or Asturian has been sround since the days of Roman times, and is one of many north Iberian pony types. The Asturcon is also known for a lateral ambing gait.
The Bosnian or Bosnian Mountain Pony breed is part of a native population from the Balkans and their hardy, frugal, enduring performance is quite legendary.
Camargue Pony - Camargue HorseCamargue Pony - Camargue Horse
The Camargue displays predominant pony characteristics, but is known as the wild horses of France and also retains characterisics shown in prehistoric cave paintings.
The elegant Connemara combines Arabian beauty, with the agility, strength and hardiness of wild Irish mountain origins. The Connemara is a brilliant performer and jumper.
The Dales, a British native, is a great child’s mount and is mostly used for pleasure, although they come from strong work crosses and retrain great strentgh.
The Darmoor orginateds from England’s Darmoor Forest, has compiled a super history via many uses, but is on the endangered list today.
The Dulmen or Duelmener, is now in German small sporthorse registries --no longer properly considered ‘wild’. The Dulmen has also been heavily influenced by Polish Konik bloodlines.
Eriskay origins go back to the Celts and Nosemen. A lovley riding animals that moves more like a horse, the Eriskay is now on the ‘rare’ survival trust list.
The Italian Esperia is generally black and has been around for at lest 2 centuries now and an association was formed in 2002. some of those who are not kept in semi-wild herds are successfully used in competition.
The Exmoor of England is a living example of anctient times. The Exmoor is an ancestor of many of our domestics. The official Exmoor Society was formed in in 1921, though the influence of man is kept to a minimum.
The Fell, of England, is related to the Dales pony. The Fell is noted for a small, quality head, and an excellent trot, along with the willingness to do.
The Galiceno of Mexico, originated in Spain then arrived in Mexico with Cortes. The Galiceno is refined, pretty, yet muscalr and sports a real mustache.
The Garanno, Minho, or Tres os Motnes, is Portuguese in origin, whose ancestors are prehistoric North Iberian, with a bit of Celt. The Garrano was classified in 1994 as endangered.
The Giara, called by Sardiania natives the Cavallino della Fiara, is feral, mostly likely brought to their island by the Phoenicians or the Greeks about 500 B.C.
Hackney PonyHackney Pony
A Hackney Pony is not a smaller version of the Hackney Horse because they are full of pony-character as high as their trot! They are also as hardy as they are elegant.
The Highland, native of Scotland since the ice age, are first rate for riding ,sure-footed over terrible terrain, easy to keep, and very sound. They are also affectionate without being at all dull.
The Karakachan developed in Bulgaria and is one of the oldest forms of domestic stock in Europe, and is still irreplaceable in the mountains, for packing or logging. The Karakachan is listed as critically endangered and disappearing.
Kerry BogKerry Bog
The Kerry Bog, kind, sensible and confident, with great courage and endurance, evolved in Ireland over centuries and a Society was formed for their endurance and protection in 2003.
The Losino of Spain officially inhabit a semi-wild area in the highlands, having no contact with people until separated to be sold. The Losino is usually black without white markings, but of ancient heritage. Hopefully someone will try to preserve them.
The Navarra is officially called Caballo Espanol, Subraza de Navarra, and it is known that they had an influence on the Andalusian although these days they display draft features.
New ForestNew Forest
New Forest is a name for a mixture of almost all British native stock living semi-wild in a wooded area called The New Forest. Because of their scope and ability they are in great demand throughout Europe.
North IberianNorth Iberian
Northern Iberian ponies are many and varied and trace their origins to prehistoric times, even seen in cave paintings. Some often retain lateral gaits and the foundation of many breeds in the world today.
Pony of the Americas - POAPony of the Americas - POA
The POA Club was foremd in 1954, and the stock is now valued as a sportpony with admirerse world-wide. The registry started with Black Hand, POA #1, the original Appaloosa, Arab, Shetland, cross but Shetland was dropped in time.
Quarter PonyQuarter Pony
The QP has had several registries over the years, but ideally the QP exhibits the same qaulities as the QH -- good mind, conformation and agile speed!
The Shetland came to England from Scandinavia about 10,000 years ago and now beloved all across the world. In proportion to size, theyk are one of the world’s most powerful too.
Sport PonySport Pony
This term vareis from UK to USA to world wide, but always designates an agile mount sized for children and used in sport events.
Welsh MountainWelsh Mountain
Welsh Mountain is the base for all of the other Welsh varieties, and is also beautifully proportioned with tons of personality, while having fire and courage, yet is kind and gentle, plus strong and hardy.
The Welsh has high competition value today as action and scope was improved over orgins of the Welsh Mountain, and is now rather unequalled. This is a strong, atheletic, and sound choice for riding, jumping or driving.
Welsh Pony & CobWelsh Pony & Cob
The Cob is the largest of the Welsh, and is an excellent hunter and remains unsurpassed in harness internationally.

The term “pony” has various origins, and so ponies mean different things to different people. While it was and still is loosely applied in certain fields of equestrian activities (the cowboy often referred to his “pony”, irrespective of type or height, and polo pony is another example, irrespective of type or height), there are breeds and show associations which refer to anything under 14,2 hands as a pony. In hippologistic and scientific contexts, however, the phrases “horse” and “pony” carry different meanings, as each expresses different conformation types, which also are tied to certain behavioral traits. Within these parameters, animals may be above 15 hands and still be ponies, and there are animals under 13 hands that must be called a horse, in both instances due to that animal’s type.

Ponies vs. Horses

Two things are important to note here regarding such designations:

1) The different conformation types stem from different ancestral, prehistoric animals. Even among the post-glacial wild subspecies that all modern equines go back to, the pony type was represented. Generally, primeval equines of the northern regions were of pony type,  while those adapted to southern, warmer regions were not.

2) Whether a animal is called a pony or not is never meant in a demeaning, or an upgrading way, neither emotionally, nor economically. There are high-value animals, and there are those that might be considered of lesser value in both categories.

Scientifically, there are a number of factors that distinguish ponies, although some breeds fall into a gray area -- because most breeds represent a blend of traits, it is not always the case that the traits associated with pony are so dominant that a breed can confidently placed in that category.

The pony is found throughout the world and there are many distinctive breeds. Pony breeds and their outcrosses have influenced many breeds s the world over, but individual pony breed registries have also been maintained, with much delight in breeding superior animals.


Among the characteristics associaton with ponies as “type” are:

Rounded forms, a compact build with good muscling, short legs in comparison to the body, heavy mane and tail, including thick forelock, and a roof-like top of the tail; short cannon bones, well-developed joints; the head has a broad forehead, a light dent on the bridge of the nose when viewed from the side, medium-sized muzzle, big, round eyes protected by a protruding lid, short, wide-placed ears. The body is barrel-like, with a broad back, a well-rounded rib cage, a strong loin, a dropping hip and a low tail set. The withers are not very prominent.

Although all colors are found among today’s breeds of ponies, the original color of the ancestral pony was a peat brown, as is still expressed in the Exmoor pony; part of this prehistoric color package are a “mealy mouth” and lighter-colored areas around the eyes, at the belly and flanks, and inside the legs. Mane and tail are black, of course.

What does not meet the eye is that in typical ponies, the joints are constructed differently, providing more lateral stability, but not quite as much forward freedom as in the joints of the horse-types. Another anatomical peculiarity of ponies is the form and placement of the teeth: The incisors of the pony are more like a nipper, meeting straight up and down, instead of at an angle. Thus the pony can graze down deeper. The pony’s molars are larger and set evenly in the jaw (which is stronger, heavier) like the spokes of a wheel. The pony is typically an easy keeper; it can survive on hard grasses and bark, which it is able to grind sufficiently due to its strong molars, and it has a digestive tract capable of utilizing coarse feed high in fiber and low in nutrients.

Ponies are somewhat shorter-strided, but more of an all-rounder, rather than a specialized runner. The pony’s moves are flat, instead of moving with more knee action.

In most modern breeds, breeders have tried to combine traits. Traits like flat movements (short, broad cannon bones), well-expressed joints, compactness - well-sprung ribs, muscling, strong loins, highly efficient digestive tract - are all characteristics which they took from the pony, If the region they lived in had a wet and cold climate, and if they were too poor to supplement their animals, they also had to rely on those characteristics that allow ponies to prosper under those conditions, thus implementing more pony traits in their breed. In one way or another, the pony contributed to most, if not all, of today’s breeds. More often than most breeders realize, color is linked to certain conformation and other traits, so if in any given breed a brown or bay color was preferred and selected for, it automatically meant that other pony characteristics were perpetuated, too.

The pony is used for a wide variety of purposes in today’s world, ranging from riding, driving, and work with many varied disciplines within the competitive arenas and for pleasure. Ponies represent Mother Nature’s recipe for an all-rounder.

Article by Hardy Oelke. For information regarding the Sorraia, the Vale de Zebro Wild Horse Refuge, and the Sorraia Mustang - visit www.sorraia.org

Jansen, Forster, Levine, Oelke, Hurles, Weber, Olek, “Mitochondrial DNA and the origins of the domestic equine”, 2002, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The following links will take the reader to pages pertaining to pony “types” that are listed on the horse breeds page:

Haflinger, see the H section
Hucul  - Carpathian Pony
Icelandic pony, see Icelandic Horse
Miniature Horse, see the H  section.
Norwegian Fjord, see the H section
Polish Konik, see the H section