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Miniature Horse vs. Pony: What's the Difference?
Miniature horses are pint-size equine. Developed in Europe all the way back in the 1600s, they weren't designated as a distinct breed of horse in the U.S. until 1978. Ponies, on the other hand, are small horses and there are many different breeds. People often get the two confused, or think that they’re synonymous. While the two do share many characteristics, of course, they’re entirely different types of equine.
To read more about horses, ponies, and training tips, click on the article links below:
Many horse experts will tell you that any full grown equine that measures under 14.2 hands at the withers is classified as a pony. This isn’t always the case, however. A pony is typically considered any equine under 58 inches tall when it reaches adult height, but a pony also has other distinctive characteristics other than just its small size.
For example, most pony breeds have thick, broad bodies and thick necks. Their legs are proportionately shorter for their body than a horse's. Some pony breeds also have broad heads, especially through the forehead, and larger eyes. Some ponies also have large hooves for their size.
On the other hand, miniature horses are even smaller than most pony breeds. Most registries won’t allow membership to a mini that’s taller than 34 inches when full grown. There are miniature horses, however, as tall as 38 inches.
A miniature horse is also built differently than a pony. Ideally, a mini is a scaled-down version of a horse, with a slimmer build than a pony, and longer legs for its size. The head is also in proportion to the body, as are the feet. Also, a miniature horse does not have the heavy bones often associated with pony breeds. In essence, a miniature horse is usually more refined than a typical pony. A mini is longer-lived than most ponies, too. They have an average life span of 25-35 years.
What can you do with a miniature horse? Lots of things! They pull carts and sleds, they make pets and companion animals, and they’re used as guides for the blind. Small children can ride them, and there’s special tiny tack made just for the minis. As a matter of fact, I just bought one for my granddaughter’s sixth birthday. As I watched her riding “Snickers” around the back yard today, I realized she’ll outgrow him soon. But that’s okay. She has a little sister who can “inherit” him after Lexi moves on to a bigger pony or horse.
Snickers is our first miniature horse. We’ve had lots of horses and ponies, but never a mini. I was impressed by his conformation. His little legs are perfectly straight and balanced and he doesn’t have the “potbelly” that a lot of ponies seem to sport. I was amazed at how small his hooves were. He also seems to be calmer than most Shetland ponies I’ve known. He hadn’t been ridden or handled in months, yet he didn’t offer to buck when numerous kids at a recent birthday party took turns riding him. He’s definitely the smallest equine I’ve ever owned. In fact, he isn’t much larger than some of my Great Danes!
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