Difference Between Horse and Pony

Horse vs Pony

There are many who are confused about the difference between a horse and a pony. In fact, they both differ in some features, but the important thing is that these two animals are the same according to scientists as they classify them into the same species Equus ferus. There are two extant subspecies under this, and they are E. f. caballus and E. f. przewalskii. The domestic horse and pony belong to the subspecies Equus caballus. Coming to the classification of horse and pony, as a general rule, an animal that is 14.2 hands or more is considered to be a horse, while an animal that is less than 14.2 hands is called a pony. One hand totals 4 inches, and so this translates into 58 inches or 147 cm to be the criteria for classification as a horse or a pony. The International Federation for Equestrian Events uses the metric system and has ruled that 148 cm is a cutoff point between a pony and a horse. However, sometimes you will see that there are certain horse breeds that have horses, which are shorter than this cutoff point and still called horses. Also, there are ponies, which are really close to this cutoff point, but still are categorized as ponies.

To remove the confusion, the distinction between a horse and a pony has been thus broadened and other aspects such as conformity and other nature traits are taken into consideration. Some other physical traits like the appearance also matter when classifying an animal as a horse or a pony.

More about Horse

Horses at different ages are referred by different names. Less than one year olds are Foals. Yearlings are the 1 – 2 year olds. Colts are males under 4 years. Fillies are females under 4 years. Adult females are known as Mare while adult reproductive males are known as Stallion. The castrated adult male horse is referred as a Gelding. In general, horses are slender and bigger in stature. On average, measure about 400 – 550 kilograms. They have long and slender necks. They also have long heads with narrower foreheads. Their coat colour, markings on the coat, and body size vary depending on the breed, nourishment levels, and genes of the parental populations. A unique feature of the horses is their tails. The tail hairs are long and silky and drop down like a waterfall. They have a small pointed ears and long hairs between poll and withers.


Horses have played an important part in the history and, even today, they play an important part mainly in sports. You will also see horses used in armies and police even today, but mainly for decorative purposes. In earlier times, especially, people used horses to travel. Actually to travel great distances as horses are built with speed. They were even used in wars in the past.

More about Pony

In general, ponies have thicker manes, coats and tails. They are also more playful and have a friendlier attitude towards trainers. However, there are many horse breeders who still feel that it is easy to categorize an animal as a pony on the basis of its physical structure. Apart from their smaller stature, ponies are stockier; thicker and stronger, pound for pound. Because of a thick coat and mane, ponies are resistant to harsh climates such as chilly winters. Ponies are said to be more intelligent, but this is one trait that sometimes makes them more stubborn than horses. With their stockier body, ponies are used for slow, heavy work.

Difference Between Horse and Pony

What is the difference between Horse and Pony?

• Pony and horse are one and the same animal according to scientists as they classify both under the same species Equus caballus.

• For practical reasons, the cutoff point to be classified as a horse or a pony is 14.2 hands. If one is more than 14.2 hands that is a horse. If one is less than 14.2 that is a pony.

• Ponies tend to have thicker mane and coat and are more resistant to cold weather.

• Ponies are more playful than horses.

• Horses with their speed are used for traveling purposes and ponies with their stockier bodies are used for slow, heavy work.

• Height should not be the only determining factor between a horse and pony for the following reasons. The Shetland pony is about 10 hands tall and is still considered a pony while miniature horse breeds such as Falabella, which are not taller than 30 inches, are still known as very small horses, not ponies. The classification is decided by considering other factors too, which were discussed in the article such as temperament, appearance, stature, etc.


Images Courtesy:

  1. 7 years old Westphalian horse by Karlyne (CC BY-SA 2.5)
  2. Windswept Hill Pony on Rowtor, Dartmoor by Miles Wolstenholme (CC BY 2.0)