When Does A Pony Become A Horse?

Ponies and horses are two separate types of animals. Although they are from the same family tree, a pony doesn’t grow into a horse and a small horse is still a horse. It will never be a pony. Horses and ponies have clear differences even though they are both from the Equus ferus caballus species. 

Shetland Pony

Can A Pony Become A Horse?

No, a pony can’t become a horse and a small horse isn’t always a pony. There are differences between the two groups of animals like bone structure and proportions, even though both are from the species Equus caballus. Other differences include how they mature, strength and temperament.

A pony couldn’t become a horse any more than a house cat can become a tiger. 

However, many ponies are wrongfully called horses because of the similarities between the two. Several horse breeds can easily be confused for ponies. Some are structured wider than most horses or are smaller breeds that people tend to associate with ponies. However, they are still classified as horses.

The distinguishing attribute between horses and ponies is height. Animals in this species are measured in hands rather than feet. The average horse stands at 15. 2 hands high, or 62 inches tall fully grown. 

The average pony can be as small as 12.2 hands high or 50 inches tall but aren’t any taller than 14.2 hands high or 58 inches tall.

Icelandic Horses

Icelandic Horse

Icelandic horses are sometimes referred to as ponies but Icelandic registries state it is a horse. These horses, which arrived on the first settlers’ ships, have developed solely in Iceland. They are smaller than those seen in other parts of the world. 

These horses typically stand between 13 and 14 hands, which is the size of some ponies. Icelandic horses are extremely hardy and strong. 

They are different from other horses because they have five gaits rather than three. Most horses walk, trot and then move into a canter or gallop but Icelandic horses have two other gates commonly called a “flying pace.”

Miniature Horses

Miniature Horse

Another group of horses that confuse most people are miniature horses. They may look like a pony but the breed is developed to be a smaller version of full-grown horses. They have all the attributes of larger horses, including longer, leaner legs, narrow heads, and softer manes and tails. 

Yet, miniature horses are defined as being 7.2 hands high, which converts to 30-32 inches tall. The tallest they can be is 8 hands high, or a maximum of 34 inches tall.

Ponies are far more stocky than miniature horses and have fluffier tails and mains than their miniature cousins.

What Is The Difference Between A Pony And A Horse?

There are six major differences between ponies and horses. 

  1. Proportions
  2. Maturity
  3. Strength
  4. Temperament
  5. Mane and tail
  6. Hardiness

1. Bone Structure

Ponies are thicker, wider in proportion to their legs. They have broader foreheads, shorter necks, and wider heads. Ponies aren’t just small but have shorter legs. 

Horses, on the other hand, have leaner, longer legs. They are overall sleeker in bone structure than ponies. 

2. Maturity 

Ponies develop a maturity faster than horses and typically are mature at six years old while horses mature around seven years old. 

3. Strength

It may surprise some to know that ponies are typically a lot stronger than horses concerning their size. This is because of their breadth and bone structure. They just have more muscles across their bodies than horses.

4. Temperament

Ponies are known for their stubbornness. Horses on the other hand are easier to train and seem to be more willing to please. This doesn’t mean one is more intelligent than the other. 

5. Mane And Tail

You can tell the difference between a pony and a horse by its mane and tail. Ponies have a thinner and coarser mane and tails than horses. 

6. Hardiness

Ponies are known to be a hardier animal than a horse. Their hooves are tougher hooves and they have a heavier winter coat.

Pony Breeds

The number of pony breeds isn’t defined but there are more than 350 breeds of horses and ponies. 

The Shetland Pony

Shetland Ponies are the most well-known type of pony, as many buy these types of animals for children. They are gentle and easily trainable, making them a great pet for kids just learning to ride.

Welsh Pony

Welsh ponies come in different sizes but work well for children because they can ride them into adulthood. They are intelligent and athletic. 

Polo Pony

Polo ponies aren’t ponies at all. These are horses used in the game of polo and the term “polo pony” is a common term. These horses can be any combination of breeds but typically have a significant amount of thoroughbred lineage.


How Long Does It Take For A Pony To Become A Horse?

A pony is a different breed of animal within the species and can never be a horse.

Do Ponies Live Longer Than Horses?

Ponies live longer than horses and can live as long as 40 years while most horses live between 25 to 30 years.

At What Age Does A Filly Become A Mare?

A filly is considered a mare at four years old.

At What Age Does A Colt Become A Stallion?

A colt becomes a stallion at four years old. Those that are gelded are called geldings. They can also be called yearlings or long yearlings if between one and two years old.

Are Baby Horses And Baby Ponies The Same Size At Birth?

No, an average-sized mare gives birth to foals that can weigh around 100 pounds. That amounts to around 10 percent of her weight.

The rule holds true for ponies too. A pony mare will have a foal that weighs around 10 percent of its weight, which is less than a horse. 

Would A Young Horse Get Along With A Pony?

Horses and ponies of any age tend to live well together.  Horses are herd prone so they like companionship and the two are similar enough to get along.


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