What Is A Pony?

What is a pony?

A pony is a small-sized horse that has a certain temperament and conformation. Ponies have a stocky stature, a roundish shape, well-sprung ribs and a dense bone structure. They also have short heads with little ears and big eyes.

Throughout the Industrial Revolution (mainly in the United Kingdom) lots of ponies were used to carry large amounts of coal to the mines. Ponies stay small in stature even when they are fully grown, and sometimes people can get an adult pony and a young horse mixed up.

Specific ponies known as draft-type ponies are able to haul a greater amount of weight than their own body weight. Historically, they were used for freight transport and riding recreationally (especially children).

Lots of areas of the world have developed pony breeds, especially in cold climates where stocky, hardworking animals are required.

History Of Ponies

Ponies were originally a landrace which was developed to withstand harsh environments. These historical ponies belonged to Northern Europe and were members of the draft type. It was thought in the past that these ponies may have come from a wild draft species named Equus Ferus.

A large number of DNA studies showed that a huge amount of wild female ponies were behind the development of our modern pony breeds today. However, studies of male DNA found that there was one sole male pony that contributed to every modern pony breed.

The domestication of ponies is thought to have happened in the Eurasian steppes.

Once the domestication of these animals began to spread, male ponies were taken to be bred with wild females. Humans domesticated ponies because they needed a stocky, hardworking animal which could help them transport important supplies while withstanding harsh environments.

Farmers noticed how resilient ponies were and how they could do better in these environments than small-farm horses.

What is a pony?

Current Uses Of Ponies 

Ponies tend to be used as working animals in many different regions across the globe. They were used to pull vehicles, transport supplies and for riding. Lots of ponies are bred for shows and performances, and are seen a lot in the equestrian world.

Certain breeds are used for different functions – for example, the Australian pony is used just for riding whereas the Hackney pony are used for pulling vehicles. The Welsh pony, on the other hand, is an all-rounder used for both riding and pulling vehicles.

The Characteristics Of A Pony 

Physical Characteristics

Ponies have short legs and strong hooves. They have a heavy coat of hair (especially in the winter) and a thick mane, with a thick tail.

This physical features help them to withstand cold temperatures and harsh environments. Ponies are exceptionally strong and sturdy considering their size, with lots being able to carry adult riders, pull vehicles, and carry weight.

Ponies are so strong that they can carry a larger amount of weight pound for pound than a horse. They can carry a far larger weight than their own body weight, with some being able to pull up to 450% of their full body weight. Most pony breeds are very sturdy and hardy.

They can live on a lesser diet than that of a horse and need much less hay. Because of this, they can be more likely to get certain diseases, but farmers value their lower cost of living compared to horses. 

Personality Characteristics 

Ponies are also very companionable and intelligent animals, but can also be seen as stubborn.

This tends to be a direct result of how well a pony has been trained – those who have been trained and ridden by experts properly will be less stubborn and more cooperative than those ponies that have been trained by beginners or trainers who lack proper experience. 

In Conclusion

Ponies are strong, sturdy, hardy, and dedicated animals. Despite their small stature, they are incredibly strong and can pull a huge amount of weight for their size. They can support full-grown adult riders, pull horse-drawn vehicles and carry an abundance of supplies.

They can survive well in harsh environments and don’t cost a lot to feed and house, meaning they are of great value to farmers.

They make excellent worker animals because when they are trained properly, they are very cooperative and work hard no matter what the weather. Work aside, ponies make great companions too because they are so friendly and clever.

They’re an excellent choice for children learning to ride because they make good-sized mounts. Ponies are an affectionate, even-tempered species and display impressive strength and a reliable surefootedness.

What Do Horses Eat?

When it comes to horses, people tend to feed them carrots and mints as they walk by, but there are many reasons why you should not feed somebody else’s horse, but we will get into that later.

Horses have a long digestive tract due to them being herbivores, as well as very specific dietary needs. Whilst we enjoy 3 square meals a day, it just will not do for a horse.  

What Do Horses Eat

They need a lot of fibre which is consumed all day, but in small amounts.

If you think about it, a horse spends most of their day eating. When you see them in a field, they are normally chewing on pasture grass and nibbling at plants. That is because grass includes a lot of the nutrition that they need every day, such as silica which is great for their teeth. 

So if you are wondering what horses eat, then you have come to the right place. Let us take a look in more detail.

Pasture Grass

What Do Horses Eat

Grass is the main source of food for a horse because they spend most of their time eating it. If they are not used to being in an area that contains a plentiful amount of rich nutritious grass, then this can actually cause serious issues. They will need to be introduced to it gradually or avoid it altogether.

When a horse is left to eat grass, you will need to take sure that there are no toxic plants or weeds hiding amongst the greenery. You want it to be a place where they can eat without any problems that may cause your horse to become unwell.

Grains Such As Oats

What Do Horses Eat

Grains can be fed to horses, but there are limitations that should not be ignored. Whilst you might want to feed them human-grade grains which are over-processed, it is best not to do so. Instead, opt for something natural like the seed head of grasses, because it is just like what a horse would eat in the wild.

You can also feed a horse some oats which is the most common choice. Whilst grains are a popular method, avoid overdoing it. They do not require the horse to chew and have no dental health benefit unlike grass which as we noted before contains silica. 

Also, overeating of grains may cause the horse to become unwell by causing colic or founder.


What Do Horses Eat

Because horses do not always get to graze on a lovely pasture throughout the full year, hay is a good alternative. Just like with rich grass, some horses may find nutritious hay troublesome, so it might be best to make sure they avoid it altogether. 

Hay also might not provide a horse with enough minerals and vitamins, so it is a great idea to test it before adding it back into their diet. If you find that the hay does not give them what they need, you can always add supplements alongside the hay.


What Do Horses Eat

Whilst salts and minerals can be added into a concentrate mix, they can also be available on their own. This can be via a salt block, or added loosely in a pasture or stall. When a horse needs it, they will consume the salt.

Because a horse, just like humans, sweats more during the summer, they tend to need more salt during that time of the year.


What Do Horses Eat

If you find that your horse does need extra nutrition, then a concentrate mix can do a great job of adding in things they are missing. Some of these can include flaxseed, grains, molasses, and beet pulp, as well as added minerals and vitamins. 

You can either buy them commercially which are readymade, or have them made up to your own particular specifications.

Treating A Horse

What Do Horses Eat

It is always nice to treat a horse, but you also have to be wary of giving them too much of the good stuff. A carrot, a sugar cube or grains might seem like a lovely thing to do, but if given in large quantities it can have a long-term effect on the horse’s health.

You might not see the results straight away either, especially if it is affecting their digestive tract or gut. Odd food and things they should not eat (like meat) can all have a negative affect on their overall health. 

Also, whilst we can figure out what food has impacted our health, a horse will not. So even if the hotdog you fed him gave him gas, he will eat it again because he cannot make the connection like a human would.

What Horses Should Not Eat

There are a number of things that should never be fed to a horse. If they do happen to eat anything on the list below, then it can risk them becoming ill or obese, especially when some of the items are given to them over a long period of time. 

This can also become a problem when passers by feed somebody else’s horses with a treat such as a carrot. If you own a horse, put up a sign saying ‘Do not feed’, and always keep an eye on your horse’s wellbeing.

Meat, Chocolate And Sugary Foods

What Do Horses Eat

Meat is an item horses do not need to eat, as it gives them no nutritional value. There is also a potential that it could be harmful to them in the long-term if it has become a part of their diet.

Sugary foods would most certainly be enjoyed by a horse due to the sweetness, but doing so can lead to obesity and general health problems.

Too Many Treats

What Do Horses Eat

It is fine to give a horse a wedge of fruit, say an apple or a couple of carrots, but giving them too much in one day can lead to health problems such as the painful foot issue laminitis. 

It is also helpful not to have the horse graze near an orchid where fruit may fall, and as mentioned above, put up a sign to deter people from feeding them treats. Having strangers feed your horse is a sure fire way of them over indulging in high sugary treats. 

Also, avoid any fruit that has a stone in it. If not removed, your horse may choke and it could be fatal.


What Do Horses Eat

Along with cake can cause a blockage in the digestive system so should be completely avoided.

Tomatoes, Potatoes And Cabbage Vegetables

What Do Horses Eat

Tomatoes and potatoes should not be fed to a horse at all, whilst anything like cabbage, broccoli, turnips, kale and brussel sprouts – amongst many more – would cause digestive discomfort if fed to your horse. Yes, this does mean they will be gassy, so avoid it like the plague!

Brans, Including Rice Bran And Wheat

What Do Horses Eat

Unless your horse has been given a specialized diet, avoid feeding them any type of bran as they are generally not good for a horse to consume. This is because it can cause your horse to have a mineral imbalance.

Moldy Hay

What Do Horses Eat

Just like with us humans, horses should not be exposed to mold. If the hay is dusty or moldy, then it could affect their lungs and cause damage. Always make sure it is in good condition.

Garden Waste

What Do Horses Eat

Even though it is hard to believe anyone would feed their horse garden waste, it has to be noted how dangerous it can be. 

Garden waste has the potential to poison a horse due to their being possible weeds, plants and general toxins included that they should not digest. 

This means that it is best not to give horses freshly cut grass either, because they will eat it faster than if they were grazing which could result in colic. 

Final Words

A horse’s diet is made up of simple food that gives them all the nutrients they need to lead a healthy life. Whilst we eat 3 square meals a day, a horse will enjoy grazing and chewing on pasture grass all day, taking in small amounts of food rather than being fed during mealtimes.

Whilst a horse will enjoy treats like a carrot or apple wedge, it is always best to feed it to them in moderation to avoid illness. Also, there are many things a horse should not eat, and these items should be completely avoided.