Among the variety of domestic horses, absolutely charming horses stand out – ponies, which are also called little horses. They are diminutive and compact and are capable of causing all passers-by to feel affection and desire to pet the animal. Ponies are quite common animals in many households, on farms, and especially where there are children. But their maintenance is very different from that of large horses. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
Distinguishing a pony from an ordinary horse is not difficult – just look at its height. Ponies do not grow more than 150 centimeters, and for some, even 1.2 meters is already the limit. It is because of their height that they received such a name since in translation from English “ponaidh” means “little horse”. But despite their small size, such horses require no less care than real horses, and therefore they need to be started only consciously and with great responsibility. All horses, including ponies and regular horses, arose from the same ancestor, Equus ferus caballus. It is believed that it was in France that those ponies that are now so common all over the world were first discovered. Now there is a small nature reserve called Camargue, in which wild ponies live.
Some researchers consider Scandinavia and the western European islands to be the birthplace of ponies. On this land, which is dominated by stony soil, the ponies have changed a lot in their size and have become much smaller, since there is generally little vegetation there and the animals have nothing to eat. In addition, there are many more features that made horses get used to that climate – bad weather, frosts can be attributed here.
Little ponies are completely different from horses not only in appearance but also in behavioral characteristics – they are calm, patient, obedient. This is mainly due to the fact that they buy these horses for children, so the specialists fixed the necessary character traits. In terms of grooming, they require slightly less attention than tall individuals.
The appearance of ponies is very different from tall horses, not only in size but despite this, they are not inferior to trotters in beauty and nobility. The pony’s physique is athletic, strong, albeit small. Their usual way of life and living conditions led to this result. A small creature needs much less food than tall horses to maintain its health and ability to survive.
Also, the small stature of the horses helps to protect them from strong cold winds, in addition, it is easier for small ponies to reach the grass in the pastures. The legs of these horses are muscular, strong, with rather stiff hooves, thanks to which they are able to dig roots in the ground that can be used for food.
Thick wool with warm down protects them from low temperatures. Also, the pony has a long mane that descends over the eyes, resembling a kind of bangs – it protects the eyes of animals from insects and dust.
The weight of a pony can reach from one hundred to two hundred kilograms. Growth in ponies depends on their origin and habitat. So, for example, Russian horses are no more than 115 centimeters tall, German horses are 122 centimeters tall, and British horses are almost 150 centimeters tall. There is a classification of horse height, the results of which we will indicate below.
In nature, there are not so many varieties of ponies – only about twenty.
These individuals were acquired at a distant time in order to transport heavy loads. This breed was already widespread in ancient times, and only after the appearance of the Romans there, they began to mix with Arab horses. As a result, their appearance has changed a lot and acquired a different look; Now the Welsh mini-horses can grow up to 125-149 centimeters. The tallest individuals are taken for horseback riding or sledding; Welsh horses have a fairly voluminous body, strong legs, small ears, and brightly colored eyes. The color of the coat can be absolutely any, but mostly these are solid colors – red, chestnut. The Welsh people are very patient, flexible, and artistic by nature, which helps them to take part in many shows.
This horse was born in Scotland. It is believed that the distant ancestors of the Shetland breed were discovered there as far back as two thousand years BC. This is one of the oldest breeds. These ponies are very small in stature, not growing more than 110 centimeters. They are very kind, calm, and absolutely unpretentious.
The Highlands were born in the heart of Scotland – the Highlands. They appeared as a result of mixing different types of blood, mainly local ponies with Arab, and sometimes Spanish and English, horses. These breeds gave the Highlands immense strength and power, endurance, and activity. The Highland breed is considered the most unpretentious, hardened pony breed. Their growth can reach one and a half meters. Previously, these horses were used to transport heavy loads. Now they are intended for entertainment: they help tourists to move around the mountains, they are introduced during participation in competitions, sometimes they are harnessed to a sleigh to ride children.
This is one of the tallest pony breeds. They grow up to 155 centimeters. Breeding of this breed is practiced where polo is played. Today, it is for polo that representatives of this breed are used. This horse is characterized by the good reaction, speed, and developed intelligence. These ponies are trained from an early age.
The breed was born in Britain and embodies all the characteristics characteristic of their ancestors. This is especially true of her jaw shape. These horses do not grow more than 125-130 centimeters. Some features can be counted in their eyelids, which are also called “toad”.
Icelandic Pony-Sized Horse
The Icelanders are descended from Norse horses brought to Iceland in the eighth century. At that time they crossed uncontrollably, and therefore the quality of the Icelandic breed only deteriorated. As a result, it was forbidden to cross them with other breeds of ponies. Now, after centuries of isolation from other breeds, Icelandic individuals are called “pure in blood.” The height of the horses can be from 122 to 144 centimeters. These horses feed not only on grass but also on fish. They have good learning and nurturing abilities, can learn almost all types of gait, and master them well in the process. They also learn telt and amble.
This breed is one of the few dwarf pony breeds. Their height cannot be higher than 89 centimeters. Some ponies generally only grow up to 45-50 centimeters. The weight of the horses is about 35-65 kilograms. The physique of the representatives of this breed is proportional and quite beautiful: not bulky, thin legs, small head, stately croup. Sometimes these miniature horses are called miniature copies of Arabian horses.
Maintenance and Care of Ponies
Ponies are very cute and kind creatures that almost every farmer wants to acquire. But you need to start them only after assessing your abilities, because you will have to take good care of them, creating special conditions for their living. In addition, you will need to provide appointments with the veterinarian, food, and other important details. Ponies can live on average 45-50 years, which must also be taken into account – you will have to take care of them for a long time. The price of horses may be different, but more often you can buy a foal from breeders for 60-90 thousand rubles.
Very important in keeping a pony is to equip a walking space. It will take quite a lot of territory, as the ponies are very active and they need to move a lot to stay healthy. Therefore, in addition to simple walking, you also need to have a place for pasture, where you can take the animal from time to time.
An important point. Housing for ponies can be absolutely anything, but it is important to equip it so that they feel comfortable. The main thing is that the room must be very clean and dry. The possibility of drafts must be excluded immediately since they strongly affect the condition of the animal. In the stable, you will have to maintain a certain temperature so that the horses are not cold – for this you will need to insulate the floor and walls well so that the wind does not blow them through.
In the northern regions, additional steam heating will need to be carried out so that the ponies do not suffer from these frosts. And even this will not be enough for them: if the days are too cold, the horses will need to be covered with blankets.
Flea treatment for ponies is not required as they do not suffer from this ailment. But nevertheless, from time to time it is necessary to comb the pony’s fur – this is especially necessary for the spring during the molt when the winter undercoat comes off the animals. In order to comb the animal well, you need to use special brushes.
Every month you need to very carefully examine the pony’s legs. You can do this more often if you notice that the animal has become unaccustomed to behave: it loses its mood, it is in constant apathy, it is experiencing, possibly showing pain. It is a good habit to check the animal’s hooves daily. Sometimes you need to shoe your ponies, especially if the surrounding area is paved.
If hooves are not cared for, chances are they will start to crack. The hoof plate becomes uneven and stones or other debris begins to fall under it, causing the pony to limp. It is very important to notice such a problem in time and remove all the stones. Hooves need to be lubricated with oils regularly so that they do not crack.
Pony Hoof Care: Step by Step Instructions
Feet and hoof care can be done in just a few steps. We will tell you more about this in the step-by-step instructions.
- Clean the hooves after coming home from a walk from foreign objects. Check them for cracks while cleaning.
- Remove dirt from the bottom of the hooves by cleaning the shoes well – this can be done with a hook. Never use sharp objects as this can damage the glaze.
- Wash the horses’ feet and dry them well. This is a very important point to help prevent inflammation. Particular attention must be paid to the hooves – the feet themselves can only be washed in warm weather, otherwise, the pony will get sick.
Bathing ponies is often not necessary, but there are times when it is impossible without it. Most often, the dirt from the horses is removed with brushes, cleaning the hair, but if the animal is sweating a lot or it is just hot weather outside, you can pamper your pony with a shower or bath – after washing, the horses’ hair acquires a special shine.
In addition, you may not be afraid of moisture, because water does not harm the pony in any way, but, on the contrary, will perfectly cheer up. If possible, you can take the horse to a lake or river and wash it there, or just pour warm water on it outside.
To bathe a pony, you need to purchase special shampoo, sponges, and scrapers. When lathering your pet, it is important to make sure that the soap does not get into its eyes and ears. In general, it is not recommended to wash the horse’s head with shampoo – you can simply rinse it with warm water.
Apply shampoo not in chaotic movements, but according to hair growth. Then you need to scrub the wool with a scraper, thereby collecting the foam, wipe it with a sponge and rinse with shampoo with water. The mane and tail deserve separate washing. After bathing, the water must be collected with the same scraper, and then dry the animal with sheets or a towel.
In the wild, ponies feed exclusively on grass and pasture, and therefore they are picky when kept at home. But the quality of the products is very important. The following components must be included in the horse diet:
- Grass. It forms the basis of a pony’s diet. Clover, nettle, and other field plants can be added.
- Hay. They can be fed to a horse in winter.
- Concentrated feed. It can also be used, but not much! It is very important to ensure that the horse does not eat a lot of oats at one meal, as problems with the digestive tract may appear.
- Vegetables, root vegetables. These components should take up a little place in the diet. Only occasionally can you thank the horse with an apple or pumpkin.
- Water. There is a small feature here – unlike other animals, ponies drink exceptionally pure water from clean dishes, so you will have to change the water more often and wash your inventory. Ponies must have constant access to water.
Miniature horses have a lot of features, and this applies not only to their small stature. They are good-natured and sweet, they become great friends for children and adults. You can breed ponies on the farm for both children’s fun and walks, and for real work. Despite their small size, ponies, as well as horses, are able to help with the transportation of heavy loads and several passengers.
Ponies are long-livers and very picky creatures, and therefore everyone can keep them. The main thing is to have the responsibility to provide your animals with a comfortable stay.