What’s the Difference Between Pony and Mini Horse?

mini horse is running

The difference between mini horses and ponies lies in their conformation, size, temperament, and use. A miniature horse is slightly shorter than a pony. Mini horses don’t have as muscular bodies as ponies. Ponies tend to have long manes and tails with thicker coats. While miniature horses have smoother hair. Miniature horses tend to live longer.

These and other miniature horse and pony characteristics are revealed in this article. Here, you’ll find out how to differ a pony from a mini horse. Get to know the pony and miniature horse and pony breeds to distinguish them from horses.

two ponies in winter

What Are Ponies?

Ponies are mistaken as “baby horses” or “tiny horses”. But that’s not true. Ponies belong to the same species as horses – Equus caballus. The average pony height is 14.2 hands or less. Equines that are taller than 14.2 hands are considered horses. Here’s a detailed article that highlights the difference between a horse and a pony. The popular pony breeds include Shetland Ponies and Hackney Ponies.

Ponies were domesticated and selectively bred to help people in different activities. Such animals were used for driving and farm work. People commonly used ponies to pull heavy equipment. During the Industrial Revolution, most ponies were used in coal mines around the US and the UK. You may face a pony on a show ring as well. They are typically divided into small (12.2 hands), medium (12.2-13.2 hands), and large (13.2-14.2 hands) pony sizes.

pony on pasture

Pony Conformation

As for the pony conformation, they have a thick mane and tail. They feature shorter legs, the barrels are wider, the bones are heavier. These little equines have a shorter head, a broader forehead, and a thicker neck. Small ponies remain their small stature for the rest of their lives. As they were originally living in rugged terrain and harsh climates. While horses grow up when they mature.

Ponies are extremely intelligent animals. They are usually friendly and outgoing. On the other hand, ponies may be stubborn and cunning. If trained properly, they are great for riding young children. Some people keep them as a family pet. The average lifespan of ponies is 25 to 30 years, which is solid.

mini horse with white belly

What Are Miniature Horses?

Miniature Horses or minis look like small horses on a smaller scale. Mini horses occurred as a result of selective breeding for the Shetland ponies and horse phenotype. The earliest sources trace back to 1650. King Louis XIV kept minis in his zoo located in the Palace of Versailles. In the 1800s, small equines were transported to the United States. They were primarily used in coal mines like ponies.

Ponies and minis are different species. A miniature horse grabs more characteristics from a full-sized horse. Despite their appearance is closer to other pony breeds. In other words, minis are called horses. Miniature horse breeds include Falabella and the Caspian Horse.

Most miniature horses express friendliness to other animals and people. That’s why a small horse is usually kept as a family pet. However, miniature horses may keep horse behavior. Thus, they should be treated like full-sized horses. Mini horses are increasingly popular therapy animals. The animals also perform on shows like driving and equine agility.

mini horse running around

Miniature Horse Conformation

As for the conformation, different registries set their own characteristics. Some of them accept animals with horse distinctive features. While others encourage to retain more pony-sized equines. In general, a well-balanced horse has a head in proportion to a flexible neck. Their longer necks come with well-defined throat latches. The body is well-muscled, the back is short, and the barrel is trimmed. Minis have straight legs with round hooves.

The American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) is one of the main breed registries in the United States. It claims a miniature pony must be 38 inches tall at the wither or less. The American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) separates minis into two divisions. The “A” division includes miniature horses with a height of 34 inches or less. The “B” division keeps larger horses that are 34 to 38 inches tall.

Miniature horses are long-livers. The average lifespan of a mini horse is 25 to 35 years. However, there are health issues common to a miniature horse. Miniature horses may struggle from overfeeding, obesity, colic, and dental issues.

two small horses grazing

How Can You Tell a Miniature Horse From a Pony?

The difference between a mini horse and a pony is in several characteristics. Minis have a small size and they are well-proportioned. Such animals are slimmer than ponies. A pony has a different built. Their necks and bodies are thicker.

A mini is a small version of a horse. They have longer legs and slimmer bodies than ponies. Ponies have heavier bones. A miniature horse is more refined.

Miniature horses are smaller than ponies. Ponies may grow up to 58 inches tall. While minis grow up to 38 inches tall. Most miniature horses are no taller than 34 inches.

As for the use, ponies are more outdoor workers. While miniature horses are usually kept indoors. However, most owners allow their minis to live outdoors if not in use.

Miniature horses tend to live longer than ponies. Their lifespan reaches up to 35 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

two mini horses posing

How to Care for a Mini Horse?

  • One acre of pasture and grass is enough for one to three miniature horses.
  • Trim the grass if necessary.
  • Provide enough space so the horse can graze and stretch.
  • Add hay and grains to the horse’s diet.
  • Miniature horses are quite sociable. Make sure they have other horses/pets to communicate with.
  • Comb and groom your mini regularly.
  • Bathe your miniature horse not too frequently.
  • Use a fly-repellent spray if necessary.
  • Get regular vet and farrier checks.
  • Provide easy access to fresh water.

How to Care for a Pony?

  • Provide solid sheltering and blanketing.
  • Feed your pony with 1.5 pounds of hay per 100 pounds of its body weight.
  • Add fresh grass and grains to the pony’s diet.
  • Groom and comb to avoid tangled hair.
  • Ponies are herd animals. Make sure they have access to other peers.
  • Bathe your miniature horse not too frequently.
  • Get regular vet and farrier checks.
  • Provide easy access to fresh water.
girl riding a pony

How Much Weight Can a Mini Horse Pull?

Miniature horses can pull their own weight. Such animals are used for driving and pulling.

How Much Weight Can a Pony Pull?

Ponies can pull a weight of 20% from their own weight. For instance, a pony that weighs 500 pounds can carry a 100-pound driver.

How Much Are Ponies?

The average price of a pony is $1,000. The price range depends on the pony’s age, conformation, and health conditions.

How Much Are Miniature Horses?

The average price of a pony goes from $800 to $3,000. Show miniature horses may cost up to $200,000. The price depends on the animal’s conformation and purpose.

three minis between hay barrels

Pony vs Mini Horse Compared

From the first view, a miniature horse and a pony are hard to differ. But this article reveals the common features to help you get the hang of these equines. Even though they look similar, miniature horses and ponies have different characteristics. Now you can feel which of these horse breeds fits your needs best.

We at Horsezz also have a section where you can find a lot of information on the most popular horse breeds in the US and worldwide.

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David Garcia

David Garcia

David Garcia is a vivid writer and a big fan of equestrian sports. He founded Horsezz – the blog where David shares his knowledge and experience about horses, tack, equestrian riding equipment, taking care of horses, and other useful guidelines.