Last Updated on November 7, 2021
Low maintenance and easy to look after, small ponies have always been incredibly popular all around the world. But did you know that there are many different types of small pony breeds? Let’s take a look at the smallest pony breed list find out all about these tiny horses!
Each breed of small pony has its own distinctive appearance and characteristics. Many people prefer one type of small pony over another, but they are all popular in their own right. Let’s find out about the most popular and famous smallest pony breeds in the world.
Introducing Small Pony Breeds
Now we need to get one thing straight right from the start here, and that is what exactly is a pony?
Most people think that a pony is a small horse, and they would be right. The main and most significant difference between horses and ponies is their height. A pony must measure 14.2 hands high or less; anything bigger than this is a horse.
However, there are differences between horses and ponies in other ways. They have different confirmations, meaning that their bone structure, body shape, and overall proportions are not the same.
Ponies tend to be much stockier than horses. This means that they have a larger and more muscular body with thick, strong legs. Horses are more refined and elegant than ponies.
The body shape of a pony tends to have a wider chest than a horse, with shorter legs in proportion to the body. The neck is shorter and thicker, often with a crest running along the top. The head of a pony is normally shorter than that of a horse.
Ponies also normally have thicker coats than horses, with a dense mane and tail. This is because pony breeds tend to come from colder countries, where they need protection from the weather. Therefore, ponies are normally much tougher and harder than horses.
When it comes to strength and endurance, pony breeds may be small, but they can outmatch many horses! Even the smallest pony breeds can be very strong and can pull or carry large loads.
People often refer to ponies as cheeky or strong-willed; this is because they are very intelligent and like to keep themselves amused. This has earned ponies the reputation of being naughty and less obedient than horses.
And where do miniature, horses come into this? Miniature horses may be small in size, but they are very different from ponies! They have been bred specifically to reduce the height of horse breeds, without losing the characteristics.
This means that miniature horses have the same appearance as a horse, but they are much smaller. So, although their size means that they should be referred to as ponies, they are normally classified as horses.
Smallest Ponies In The World Revealed
So, if you’re a pony fan, here is the moment you have been waiting for! These are the smallest pony breeds in the world:
Welsh Mountain Pony
The Welsh Mountain Pony, or Welsh Section A, is a small breed of pony originating from Wales in the United Kingdom. This is a very pretty and elegant breed of pony, adapted to survive on difficult terrain.
The Noma pony is a very rare breed of small pony from Japan. At one point this breed almost went extinct, with just six purebred ponies surviving. Luckily, an intensive breeding program has ensured that the Noma pony is slowly growing in numbers, although not in size!
The Fell pony originates from the United Kingdom. It is descended from wild ponies which roamed the hills, or fells, of northern England. This is a tough and hardy little pony, capable of withstanding harsh weather and carrying heavy loads.
Also from England, the Exmoor pony is the descendant of wild ponies who roamed free on the Exmoor hills. This is a beautiful breed of pony, with distinctive lighter patches around its eyes and mouth.
The Guoxia pony is a rare breed that dates back over 2000 years. Originally from China, this tiny pony breed was thought to be extinct, until a large herd of a thousand Guoxia ponies was discovered in 1981. A breeding program has now stabilized numbers of this once popular small pony breed.
What Is The Smallest Pony Breed In The World?
There is some dispute about the smallest pony breed in the world. Many breeders have created miniature horse breeds which are very small, but these are often thought to be genetic mutations. We could have discussed tiny equine breeds such as the Falabella here, but officially they are recognized as miniature horses, not ponies.
When it comes to small pony breeds, there is one that has been a consistent favorite for many years now, and that is the Shetland pony.
The Shetland pony is one of the most famous small pony breeds in the world. This tough little pony has been around for hundreds of years and was originally used by humans as a packhorse.
Unusually, Shetland ponies are measured in inches, not hands! The average height of a Shetland pony is 40 inches high – this is around 10 hands high.
The Shetland pony may be small, but it is very strong in relation to its size! Traditionally, they were used on the Shetland Isles in Britain to carry fuel and fertilizer up and down steep and rough terrain.
This has made the Shetland pony one of the toughest and most resilient breeds of pony in the world. They can withstand harsh weather and require smaller amounts of food than more refined breeds of horses. The Shetland pony is popular as a child’s riding pony, and they are also used in harnesses for carriage driving.
So, as our smallest pony breed list has revealed, a pony is not just a small version of a horse! Most pony breeds have their own distinctive appearance and characteristics. There are some very popular small pony breeds, and most of them have very big personalities!
We would love to hear about your experiences with small ponies – have you ever owned one? Perhaps you learned to ride on the cutest small pony and you’ve never forgotten it? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE