- It’s mostly a matter of size, ponies are smaller than horses.
- The former also tends to be more robust than the latter.
- Compared to horses, ponies have not always had the reputation of being suave.
To understand the key differences between a pony and a horse, you first need to understand how a horse is measured. The traditional method for measuring a horse or pony is by hand. One hand equals 4 inches. This tradition developed because the average width of a person’s palm is 4 inches.
Horses and ponies are measured from the ground to the highest point of the withers, the circular area where the base of the neck meets the back. A pony is 14.2 hh (hand height) or smaller, while a horse is anything higher than 14.2 hh. So, a pony is any horse that is 58 inches at the withers or less, and a horse is any horse taller than that.
While size is the main difference between horses and ponies, you can expect a few other differences as well. Ponies usually have thicker, bushier manes and tails. They also grow a thick and long winter coat. While horses do grow winter coats, they usually don’t grow as long as ponies.
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Comparing ponies and horses
|high||14.2hh or less||14.3hh or higher|
|dietary needs||gain weight easily||Variety|
|coat||Coarse mane and tail, long winter coat||exquisite|
Four Key Differences Between Pony and Horse
Pony vs. Horse: Size
The most obvious difference between a pony and a horse is size. Many people think of anything larger than a Shetland pony or other small breeds as a horse, but ponies can be over 4 1/2 feet tall on their backs. Large ponies can easily reach the chest of an average adult.
Pony vs. Horse: Temperament
Generally speaking, ponies are more docile than horses, but this is not always the case. One problem with ponies is that, due to their small size, it can be a challenge to find adults small enough to train them. Primarily ridden by children who may develop bad habits.
It’s also worth noting that ponies can be examples of deceiving appearances. Although they’re relatively strong and tough, they also occasionally like to pass the buck and can be a bit cunning — a behavior that doesn’t match their cute, endearing exterior.
Once they’ve made up their minds, getting them to back down can be a daunting task.
Horses also come in a variety of temperaments. Many generations-bred horses, such as the Quarter Horse, have very stable temperaments and are excellent choices for beginners. Horses known for their sensitivity and liveliness, such as Arabian horses, are often referred to as hot-blooded horses.
Pony vs. Horse: Metabolism
Ponies have a slower metabolism than horses. This means that many ponies can easily maintain their weight on small amounts of food, while foods rich in spring grass or grains can cause weight gain. This can also lead to health problems such as laminitis, a serious metabolic disease that affects a pony’s feet.
Some horses also have slower metabolisms, but most require more feed than ponies. A horse that puts on weight easily and doesn’t need much, if any, grain to maintain its weight is called an easy breeder. Horses that require more, higher quality food to maintain their weight are called hard horses.
Pony vs. Horse: Build
Horses are generally more refined than ponies, with longer legs and necks and a finer bone structure. Size varies among horse breeds, but even the more robust riding breeds, such as quarter horses, are usually more refined than ponies.
Ponies are generally more stocky, with strong bones and hooves, thick necks, and less refined heads. Many ponies are built more like working breeds, such as Clydesdales, than riding horses, although they are much smaller.
Keep reading these posts for more incredible facts about key animals.
- Elk vs Caribou: Although they are very similar and both love cold weather, they are not quite the same. Find out how these cervids are different.
- Guanaco vs Llama: Both are camelids, but one is smaller than the other, has finer fur, and is less accustomed to human company. Read about how to tell them apart, right here.
- Stork vs. Heron: What’s the Difference? Long legs, pointed beaks and a love of water are some of the things they have in common. However, there are also some differences. They are all listed here for your reading pleasure.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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