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What is a Riding Pony?

By Mandi Raymond
Updated May 21, 2024
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A riding pony basically is a show pony that is built more like a horse than a traditional pony. The proportions of a riding pony are more evenly distributed than those of the traditional pony, leading to an elegant-looking, graceful animal. The three classifications of riding pony for competition are show pony, show hunter and working hunter.

The head and the ears of a riding pony are small, but they are proportionate to its head. The size of a riding pony ranges from 12.2 hands to 14.2 hands high. These compact animals have a narrow front and sloping shoulders. They possess tough feet and legs that are strong.

Many of the riding ponies are decedents of Arabian and thoroughbred horses. First bred in the United Kingdom, the ponies were formed into a smaller animal with grace and elegance, and they could be seen in many show rings. Riding ponies gained in popularity and drew much attention from all levels of equestrians, from the wealthy to those in the middle class. This growth created an excitement among equestrians around the world for an animal that held great elegance and pride.

The riding pony is considered to be an excellent driving pony. It is able to help herd small animals such as sheep. In addition, this pony is a favorite among polo players.

As popular as the riding pony is in the ring as a show pony, it also is extremely popular with families, especially children. The show pony is a petite, gentle animal, which allows for excellent riding by people of all ages. Many people choose this pony as the family riding pet because of the demeanor of the animal. The ponies have a calm presence and a level of patience, and those qualities make them ideal for families with small children.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a riding pony?

A riding pony is a small horse breed specifically bred for children to ride. They typically possess the elegance, movement, and temperament suitable for various equestrian disciplines. Riding ponies often resemble small show horses and are known for their intelligence, friendly nature, and versatility in competitions such as dressage, jumping, and driving.

How tall is a riding pony?

Riding ponies generally stand between 12 and 14.2 hands (48 to 58 inches) at the withers. The height classification can vary slightly by country and breed standards, but they are consistently smaller than horses while offering a similar grace and athleticism, making them ideal for youth and smaller adults.

What are the common breeds of riding ponies?

Common breeds of riding ponies include the Welsh Pony, known for its good temperament and versatility; the Shetland Pony, famed for its strength and durability; and the Connemara Pony, which is appreciated for its athleticism and jumping ability. Each breed brings unique qualities to the riding pony category.

What disciplines are riding ponies used for?

Riding ponies are used in a wide range of equestrian disciplines. They excel in competitive arenas such as show jumping, dressage, and eventing. They are also popular in showing classes, where their conformation and movement are judged, and in driving competitions. Additionally, they are often used for recreational riding and as children's mounts.

How do you care for a riding pony?

Caring for a riding pony involves providing a balanced diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and proper hoof care. They require daily exercise and mental stimulation to maintain their health and happiness. Adequate shelter, grooming, and attention to their specific breed needs are also essential for their well-being.

Are riding ponies suitable for beginner riders?

Riding ponies can be excellent for beginner riders due to their manageable size and generally calm disposition. However, like all equines, individual temperaments vary, so it's important to match the right pony with the rider's skill level. Ponies known for their patience and gentle nature are particularly well-suited for novices.

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