Best for Experienced owners
Activity Level: Medium
Ponies are found worldwide and are one of the most popular rural pets. Ponies have been domesticated for hundreds of years and have been used as beasts of burdens, farm helpers, transportation, children’s mounts, and for racing. Today, especially in countries like North America and Europe, the biggest role ponies play are beloved companions and pets. Worldwide, there are over 100 different breeds of ponies. Ponies are very tough and hardy; most breeds of ponies can pull 3-4 times there own weight, but some breeds like the Shetland pony can pull up to 5-6 times it's own weight.
Ponies are intelligent animals that are generally friendly and easygoing. However, ponies’ temperaments vary per breed and individual pony; some ponies are more intelligent and cunning than others, some more stubborn, some friendlier, and some easier to train etc. When well raised and trained, ponies are mostly friendly, good natured, affectionate animals. Like horses, ponies tend to pick up bad habits easily and lose them with difficulty; training needs to be consistent and fair. Like all animals, ponies are best trained using positive reward focused techniques. Ponies do not respond very well to harsh or ill treatment, and may become aggressive, very timid, prone to biting, and/or uncooperative. Ponies are naturally herd animals and are happiest when the are kept in at least pairs or small groups of 4-6. However, some breeds of pony prefer to live only with other ponies of a same breed, while other ponies are happy to live with any other type of pony, horses, or sometimes even mules or donkeys.
Even though ponies are smaller than horses, the space required is rarely seen in an urban environment. Ponies require a large fenced area where they can get exercise and graze. Like horses and many other farm animals, ponies also require a stable to sleep in and take shelter in, when the weather is stormy.
Appearance and Care:
Depending on the breed, ponies range in size from 10-14 hands tall ( 40-56 inches tall) and weigh from 600-1200 pounds. However, some breeds of ponies can reach up to 1500 pounds or as low as 300-400 pounds; the smallest pony in the world is the Shetland pony that grows to be 8-10 hands tall and weighs 300-400 pounds. Ponies have thick coats, and either short or long tails and manes which can vary in thickness. Ponies come in a variety of colors and colour combinations.
Like horses, ponies require regular hoof care and should be brushed weekly. They also need to see a dentist every 2-4 months to check on their teeth.
Like all equine, ponies graze on grass and hay, and may be fed a diet of commercial horse feed during the winter when grazing is not readily available. However, over-grazing can cause health problems so owners will need to ensure their pony does not overeat excessively. Calcium and phosphorous supplements are often needed, depending on the quality of hay that is fed. All ponies require fresh water at all times.
Ponies are very hardy animals with an average life span of 20-30 years, but some individuals can live to 40 years of age. Like horses, ponies require annual vaccinations, deworming every six months and owners should check them regularly for lice. All ponies require regular teeth care and hoof trimming. Ponies are susceptible to laminitis if fed a diet high in non-structural carbohydrates.