The Difference Between Pony And Mini Horse

Horses come in all shapes and sizes, each with distinct characteristics, so let’s take a look at the difference between a pony and a mini horse. Even though both ponies and mini horses are both small and it is easy to think they are all ponies, they aren’t. Here we will introduce you to both and talk about how they are different.

What Is A Pony

The distinction between a pony and a horse is the size. All ponies stand no taller than 14.2 hands. Generally, all equines over 14.2 hands tall are horses. However, sometimes a pony can grow over height and is technically a pony due to its breed.

It is also possible for a horse breed to not grow above 14.2 hands. These horses will measure as a pony and can take part in some equestrian activities. For example, in Europe, it is popular to use a top-class horse stallion to breed with a pony.

What Is A Pony

Only certain stallions that produce smaller offspring will work with this method. The result of this cross is a horse that measures as a pony. The hope is to produce a pony that can compete at the top level of pony jumpers, which is jumping 1.30 meters for a 14.2.

This doesn’t always work, and you end up with a talented, but small horse. However, while this horse is in one way a pony, it is not a pony if you go by breed.

Pony Characteristics

Ponies differ from horses in several ways other than their specific breed. A pony has a different body shape to horses and mini horses. The body shape of a pony is stockier, with shorter legs.

Ponies tend to have a rounder shape body, shorter necks, and more bone in relation to their body size. A pony matures physically sooner than a horse. Most ponies stop growing by the ages of six, whereas horses can keep growing until age 7.

Most ponies have harder constitutions than horses or mini horses. In the winter, they grow thicker coats, and they usually have a wider forehead. A pony can also outlive a horse in many cases.

Pony Characteristics

Another distinctive difference between ponies and other types of equines is temperament. Some feel that ponies are more intelligent than other horses. They are certainly more stubborn or opinionated at times. 

Pony Breeds

The following are breeds of ponies.

  • Connemara Pony
  • Dales Pony
  • Fell Pony
  • Welsh Pony
  • Exmoor Pony
  • Highland Pony
  • Shetland Pony

Mini Horses

So what is the difference between a pony and a mini horse? First, let’s understand what a mini horse is. A miniature horse is the smallest type of equine, even small than a pony. A mini horse is a very specific type of equine, developed to resemble a true horse in miniature.

A mini horse must not stand taller than 34 inches. The features of a mini horse are refined like a full-sized horse and not as stocky as a pony. It has a longer neck than a pony. A mini horse has less bone and is not as strong as a pony.  

One pony breed, in particular, is often confused with a miniature horse. This is the Shetland pony. Shetland ponies are slightly taller than miniature horses, with an average height of 42 inches.

The Shetland also possesses pony characteristics that the mini horse does not. A Shetland has a round body, short legs with more bone than a mini horse, and a very hairy winter coat. Many people mistakenly call a Shetland Pony a mini horse. A Shetland pony weighs between 400 to 450 pounds. Whereas a mini horse weighs between 150 to 300 pounds

Difference Between Miniature Horse And Pony

In addition to the difference we’ve already covered, weight is another major distinction between a mini horse and a pony. At birth, a mini horse weighs only 12 to 25 pounds. A pony foal will weigh between 30 and 45 pounds, depending on the weight of its mother. Generally, a foal will weigh 10 percent of its mother’s weight. 

Miniature Horse Health Issues

A mini horse is more prone to health issues than a pony. Unfortunately, it is relatively common for a mini horse to have leg deformities at birth. This is anything from mildly to severely crocked legs.

To prevent long-term issues with walking these foals need special care to help their legs straighten as much as possible before it is too late, usually within the first six months of life. Another health issue affecting mini horses more than ponies is dwarfism. Dwarf mini horses have leg deformities, domed heads, and sometimes a roached back.

The Big Book of Miniature Horses: Everything You Need to Know to Buy, Care for, Train, Show, Breed, and Enjoy a Miniature Horse of Your Own


To an inexperienced eye, the difference between a pony and a mini horse is sometimes hard to spot. But once you have an understanding of each type of equine, you will soon spot this difference straight away.

If you have any questions about ponies or miniature horses, put them in the comments below.

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