pony vs. miniature horse

Just a curiosity question, since we won’t be getting one, but exactly what are the differences? I’ve heard that you can’t ride miniature horses.


Well, I wouldn’t recommend riding a miniature horse, just as I wouldn’t recommend riding a large dog. While ponies are horses found in nature that happen to be under 14.2 hands (that’s about 58 inches to you non-equestrians), miniature horses are freaky little inbreds (well, okay, so are Arabians, Quarter horses, etc.) that must be under 34 inches. 34 inches. Yes, they can be trained for fun and profit and the larger ones can be ridden by small children. However, just because they’re small and cute doesn’t mean they won’t be any gentler than a non-freak horse. In fact, ponies and miniature horses seem to be more stubborn and bite more than their larger brothers and sisters. Of course, that probably has more to do with kids tugging at them and such all day.

Thanks. I didn’t know that mini horses were actually smaller than ponies (also, I thought ponies were different than just small horses, cause they kinda look fuzzier). I did find a website with a picture of a “mini” and let me tell ya it was freaky looking. It actually kinda looked like a giant human next to a normal sized horse.


Next to the apartment where I lived prior to buying this house was a small mini-horse breeding operation. Bizarre little creatures, and lemme tell yah, no one tells them that they’re itty bitty horsies. They act like they’re 1000 pounds of snorting mustang fury. (Reminiscent of chihuahuas–didn’t anyone ever tell them they’re little tiny almost-dogs and not big vicious Dobermans?)

Anywho, I’ve read on numerous occasions that a miniature horse is, in fact, actually a horse, not a pony. What delineates them as such? Body proportions. Supposedly, when they were first being bred, the goal was to create an equine with the same proportions as an adult horse, as opposed to the shorter-legged, stockier-frame pony. That’s what they say. Personally, mini-horses don’t seem to be proportionately equal to the ones I ride, but eh. What do I know.

Interesting anecdote–hubby DeathLlama and I were at the Kentucky Horse Park a few years ago when there was a miniature horse show. I saw someone off in the distance walking their golden-retriever-sized horse back to the barn; when I pointed it out to DL, he thought it had to be a dog. Nope–closer inspection revealed it was, in fact, a freakishly small horse.

While breeders state that miniture horses are horses and not ponies, they cannot deny that there is a lot of pony breeding in the breed’s background. IMHO it is a way of getting higher prices for them. It happens with other breeds too, for example most Icelandic horses are less than 14.2 hands high, but never, ever, call Icelandics “ponies”.

Miniature horses look freaky to me too, and a lot I have seen would be considered very poorly conformed if they were full-sized horses. But mini donkeys are the cutest animal known to man…I wish I had one of those.

Wait a sec. I thought a pony was a baby horse?!?

Is a pony NOT a horse?

A foal is a baby horse. A female horse aged birth to three is a filly; a male is a colt.

A pony, technically, is an equine–but by definition, not a horse.

I’ve seen some of the mini-equines up close, and the small herd I saw was full of the sweetest little freaks of breeding I’ve even had the pleasure to meet. They were quite well sociallized and house-broken. Of course, they were all mares or geldings…

Anyway, I don’t really see the point, but then, many things breeders do seem to have no point, and yet people will pay a premium for hairless cats and dogs so small they have to shiver all the time just to avoid hypothermia. All said and done, I’d rather a mini-equine over a pot-bellied pig, but I’ll take a mutt or a stray cat over either of those.

A note on Pony vs. Horse.

Although there are Pony breeds (Shetland, Welsh and Connemara being some of the more well-known), the word “Pony” indicates a height not a certain type of breeding. As previously mentioned the height limit is 14 Hands, 2 inches, with a hand =4 inches.

For example, if you breed two Quarter Horses but the resulting foal grows to be only 14.1 Hands… guess what, you just bred a “Quarter Pony.” Conversely if the progeny of your two Welsh ponies grows to be 14 hands 3 inches, you have yourself a Welsh Horse.*

On a horsie message board I frequent, “When will your pony grow up?” is considered one of the more amusing ignorant questions asked by interested but ill-informed friends. Right up there with “did you win your race?”

Horses are measured at the highest part of their “withers” which is the top of the shoulder blade at the very base of the neck. So, this height is “at the shoulder” if you will.

*The British have a term, “Cob” for a horse of ponyish proportions but standing up to IIRC 15 hands tall.