Whenever a novice to horses sees a pony a question pops in their head: Is a pony a baby horse? And even if you don't believe it, it's NOT.
The misunderstanding doesn’t come only from the fact that ponies are quite similar to baby horses, but also, because of the word PONY by itself.
Want to know more? Discover it with us. Learn the differences between a pony and a baby horse. And if in fact, a pony can be a horse at all.
Not a baby horse? Then what?
What is a pony?
A pony can be one at any age, unlike the baby horse, called foal, which are considered such only while it’s younger than one year.
The word pony has its origins in the French "poulenet," which in the franco language literally means foal, that is an immature, young horse.
However, nowadays the meaning is not the same. And when the words came into English, it passed to describe what we know as ponies.
Ponies have shorter legs compared to a foal, and even wider bodies than a full-sized horse. So physically it cannot be considered either taking into account an average pony vs. an average foal or horse.
A small horse is the perfect description for a pony, and it doesn’t have to do with its age, but rather its body dimensions.
Some notorious differences, easily noticeable by a trained eye, are that in comparison to horses the ponies exhibit thicker manes, which is the hair that grows from the top of their neck.
On a par with the manes, the ponies also possess fuller tails and overall coats.
They are well proportioned, with shorter legs, wider barrels, heavier bones structured, thicker necks and shorter heads with their foreheads being broader than that of a horse or even a foal.
Why are ponies so small?
Initially, these type of horses came to be, because they lived on the edges of habitat suitable for horses to live in.
Humans then bred them for different purposes, such as freight transport and driving, children mount, recreational riding. Also, as pit ponies, since their sturdiness allowed them to carry big loads of coal.
In general, ponies are regarded as intelligent, friendly and somewhat stubborn animals.
When does a Pony become a horse?
Depending on various circumstances a pony can be considered a horse. For example, if it possesses the same or approximate height at the withers, the front "shoulder area in a horse.
Also, if they have a specific conformation and temperament.
In spite of this, a pony will be called a horse on an off-record manner, as the guidelines for the breed and race are very strict in the horse breeding community.
Ponies are not baby horses or grown-up horses for the matter. They are a race by themselves with distinctive characteristics.
Ponies are kind, smart creatures, loved the most by children. Having a pony is similar to owning a forever baby horse looking animal. But, for sure something not to regret.