Even though this website might appear as a niche for equine lovers, one of its goals is also to provide enough information for people who are not familiar with the world of horse racing and equine sports in general, so that they better understand the nuanced and subtle nature of the sport, as well as to spark their interest in riding. And the fact is that horse riding has a very dignified aura, and that people, in general, are not very familiar with it. For example, one of the most common misconceptions is thinking that ponies are baby horses, which could not be farther from the truth. In this article, we will debunk this myth and explain in detail how horses and ponies differ.
Why the misconception?
Not to be too hasty, as there are many similarities that lead people to believe that ponies and horses are the same animals. In fact, they are very closely related, precisely due to the fact that they come from the same species of animal, and that physiologically, they are fairly similar. There are subtler differences, which we will group into several categories, in order to more easily understand the two animals.
The size is the most obvious culprit for thinking that ponies are baby horses. however, the one thing that people usually do not know is that ponies mature far more quickly than horses. Baby ponies are very small, and they fairly quickly grow to their limit, whilst horses take as long as six years to reach their full size, depending on their breed.
Whilst it is usually seen as a clear cut distinction between the two, and despite the fact that there are official measures that state that a pony is under 14.5 hands in size, we can consider horses and ponies as part of a spectrum – some ponies are more or less horse-ish, and some horses are more or less pony-ish. However, even though it is not a clear-cut line, we still need to have official guidelines set into place, so as to prevent ponies from competing against regular horses in competitions, which is not really fair.
Eating and nutrition
Probably the biggest difference that you can notice between horses and ponies can not easily be spotted by amateurs, and it is related to the feeding and digestive systems of ponies. Due to their size and their capacity for activities, they are able to obtain enough nutrition even from a tiny pasture, and their owners may need to be careful to prevent them from overfeeding, which can cause further health issues like laminitis. On the other hand, horses can be notoriously difficult to keep, and they require large areas of grass to graze on, in order to take their daily dose of nutrients.
Even though this may come as a shock to many of you, ponies actually live quite a bit longer than horses, and among the record holders for equine longevity, ponies certainly do hold the most titles. In fact, it is well known that some ponies live well into their twenties, and even reach as far as thirty years of age, whilst still being used for riding and work.