What is the Difference Between a Horse and a Pony?

If you are currently looking into horses for the first time and aren’t particularly familiar with them yet, then you may be forgiven for thinking that a pony and a horse are essentially the same thing – the common understanding it seems for many people is that ponies are just smaller horses. However this is very much not the reality, and there are many considerable differences between horses and ponies that you should familiarize yourself with if you have an interest in buying one. Here we will look at the differences between horses and ponies and examine the differences that are more than just skin deep…

Size: While ponies are of course smaller than horses, it’s important to note when choosing an animal that horses come in different sizes too – and there is a lot of difference between a Stallion and a Mustang for instance. Some horses are actually quite small themselves – for instance miniature horses which can be under 90cm tall in some cases. This alone demonstrates that there is more than just the height defining horses and ponies. Meanwhile there are also different breeds of ponies and these too can vary in height.

Coats: One thing to note here is that a pony has a thicker coat than a horse. While the hairs of a horse will usually be quite fine and thin, a pony’s will provide a thicker layer that will make the pony almost appear plump. This can help the Pony to survive in cooler weather.

Proportions: The main way to tell the difference between a miniature horse and a pony is by looking at the proportions of their legs which will be ‘stockier’ meaning that the horse appears closer to the ground. Adding to the thick fur the bones of a pony are also thicker set making them appear stockier still and ensuring that they have an overall more ‘plump’ appearance. In other words if it looks like it could take off like a bolt of lightning then most likely it’s not a pony.

Temperament: As well as the differences in appearance, ponies also behave slightly differently and this makes them more suited to specific circumstances. Generally ponies tend to possess a more gentle disposition and are less violent and volatile which makes them more suited to being kept by young girls and being regularly petted. At the same time a pony is also said to have a higher IQ and this can help your little girl to bond more with the pony and in some ways can make them more entertaining.

Which is For You?

While horses are majestic and powerful creatures they are also difficult to look after – like bottled lightning. If you want to race your horse, ride it or simple marvel at its power, then you may well have your heart set on getting a genuine horse. However if you are looking for more of a family pet that will be safer, better natured and less expensive to look after, then you should consider a pony which can be much more manageable. In many other ways the two animals are also very similar in terms of lifestyle and even lifespan with both living to around 25 or 30 years of age and being safe to keep outside in a stable.

Greg Dickson is a pet care expert and has been blogging about using Horse Mats to keep your horses comfortable while providing an attractive environment.

  • addi

    The difference is that a horse is 14.2 hands or higher, while ponies are under 14.2 hands high.