Have you ever wondered why movies with horses or ponies as main characters are so popular and remain classics years after they were made? Misty of Chincoteague, Black Beauty, The Black Stallion; these classic books have been made into movies that are watched over and over. Most of my friends were horse crazy before they ever had their first crush on a boy. Ask any parent and you will likely find that their child has asked for a pony as a present.
There are approximately 350 breeds of equines around the world today. A pony is a small equine that is shorter than a certain height (usually 14.2 hands or 58 inches tall) at the withers or is classified as such because of small size and temperament.
Visit a website about ponies and you will likely find 50 or more breeds listed. The breeds that were the most popular among my friends were Shetland, Welch, Ponies of America - POA, and Hackney.
A Shetland is most likely to be the breed pictured when someone says the word pony. These small, strong animals have a shorter stride and are quite strong for their size. Shetlands are smart and make devoted pets. These traits make them loved by their owners young and old.
The POA is a breed whose organization offers family friendly events that help children gain in responsibility and confidence while learning many new skills. The POA was developed in Iowa from a combination of Arabian, Appaloosa and Shetland. POA's are bred to be gentle and easy for a child to manage. The organization limits participation by adults to halter and the showing of young animals in training.
Welch ponies can be trained in almost any discipline. They are versatile enough to be ideal for a growing child yet have enough spirit and endurance to please the adult rider. The first Welch came to America in the 1880's. Now, registered Welches can be found in all 50 states and Canada.
Hackney ponies are Hackneys that stand 58 inches or less at the withers. They are separated into five main divisions for shows depending on mane and tail appearance, size and show ring performance.
These smaller versions of a horse continue to garner admiration with children and adults alike. Many characteristics endear these small equines to their owners and make them the most loved horse.