Did you ever ask for a pony for your birthday? At one time or another, most children will think that they’d like to receive a pony as a gift.

Of course, ponies require a lot of space and care, so most backyards aren’t really good places to raise a pony. Many of you may have ended up with a toy pony instead!

When most of us hear the word “pony,” we think of a small horse. In fact, it’s not unusual for people to believe that a pony is simply a young horse that has not grown to maturity yet.

The truth, though, is that ponies and horses are not two stages of development of a single animal. They’re actually different, although related and quite similar, creatures. Ponies remain small when they’re fully grown.

All types of horses are known as equines. Equine experts measure the height of animals in units of measurement called hands. A hand is approximately four inches, which is an average width of a human hand.

The main distinction between ponies and horses is height. A horse is usually considered to be an equine that’s at least 14.2 hands (or about four feet ten inches) tall. A pony, on the other hand (pun totally intended!), is an equine less than 14.2 hands.

This is not a black and white rule, though. There are horses less than 14.2 hands tall, and there are ponies that are taller than 14.2 hands. Why? The answer is that ponies and horses are different in other important ways beyond just their height.

Pony breeds, in addition to being shorter than horses, have other characteristics that make them different from horse breeds. Ponies and horses have different conformations. This means that they have differences in their bone structures, muscles and overall body proportions.

For example, ponies tend to be stocky and stronger (for their size) than horses. They are more tolerant of cold weather and have good endurance, which makes them good work horses. Ponies also tend to be very intelligent. From a human point of view, this means that ponies might be more stubborn than a horse.

Physically, ponies usually have thicker manes and coats that help protect them from the cold. They have shorter legs and wider chests, as well as heavier bones, thicker necks and shorter heads.

Likewise, there are horse breeds that don’t grow taller than 14.2 hands, yet don’t share the same characteristics of ponies. Examples of these breeds include Caspian, American Miniature, Morgan and Icelandic horses. Despite their shorter stature, these equines are considered horses because they are quite different from ponies.


132 Join the Discussion

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    • Hello, Moa! We’re so happy that you’re excited about today’s Wonder of the Day®! We appreciate your enthusiasm for learning about horses! :-)

  1. I already knew that. There are different kinds of ponies. My neighbor has 1 horse and 1 pony. She has a big pony. Her pony is almost as tall as the horse.

    • Thanks for sharing that you already had some background knowledge about the difference between horses and ponies, Caelah! That’s really cool about your neighbor’s horse and pony, too! We bet they are AWESOME! :-)

  2. Hey, I didn’t know that ponies and horses where different! I thought that ponies where baby horses!

    • We’re glad you learned something new by exploring today’s Wonder of the Day®, Delanie! Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis and leaving us this GREAT comment to let us know! :-)

  3. I think that ponies are so cute and horses are cute too. I live right by a horse barn so you can go and pet them. In the barn there are racoons, chickens, roosters, donkeys, cats, dogs, pigs, and llamas. The barn is freakishly weird.

    • WOW! A lot of different animals hang out in the horse barn near where you live, Cassidy! We think it would be AWESOME to get to see all those cute critters in one place! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to today’s Wonder! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about ponies and horses, Shundee! We’ve never seen either type of animal with a horn, but we think that would be a WONDERful sight to see! Here’s a past Wonder about a creature that is sometimes called the “unicorn of the sea:” Wonder #489 – What Is a Narwhal? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-narwhal/. :-)

  4. I drew a Shetland pony for my friend Hannah, it’s a really good pony. It was black and white and I called it my emo pony. I <3 it. Y’all should do a wonder on art or drawing.

  5. I’m Devan’s friend, Hannah!!!!! She drew a good pony!!!!! I already knew the answer to this wonder. I have a pony and a horse!!!

    • How awesome that you have a horse AND a pony, Hannah! Thanks for sharing that with everyone in Wonderopolis today! Thanks, also, for sharing that Devan’s pony drawing was good! We think that ROCKS! :-)

  6. Ponies are baby horses and horses are the adults that give birth to the ponies….Never mind I didn’t say that I meant to say that they are different in age.. I THINK..??????????

    • Hi, Sydney! We hope you learned some cool new facts about the differences in horses and ponies today! A lot of Wonder Friends think that ponies are just baby horses. We thought it was SUPER cool to learn that they aren’t! :-)

    • We’re so glad you liked exploring today’s Wonder of the Day®, Wonder Boo! Thanks for letting us know you thought it was FANTASTIC! :-)

    • Hi, Caelah! We appreciate you sharing another AWESOME comment with us today! We were WONDERing if your neighbor’s pony likes to eat treats like carrots or apples? :-)

  7. I like how you have a different background every wonder. You should do a wonder on how to speak French. {I already know how to speak French I just thought it would be neat].

    • We’re glad you noticed and like the different backgrounds we use in Wonderopolis, Caelah! We change them once a week, usually on Fridays (sometimes on Thursdays). The backgrounds are sometimes kind of like another clue to what an upcoming Wonder might be about that week. Thanks for suggesting a future Wonder about speaking French…we think that’s a GREAT idea! :-)

    • We like that question, Caelah! To make a smiley face with sunglasses, you put the number “8″ and an end parenthesis. It looks like this:

      8 + ) = 8)

  8. Ponies are are small, horses are big. I LOVE LOVE LOVE HORSES. THEY ARE MY FAVORITE ANIMALS. I WISH I HAD ONE. THEY ARE SO SO SO SO SO SO SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We can tell by your comment that you REALLY, REALLY love horses, Gloria! We’re glad today’s Wonder of the Day® is all about them (and ponies)! Thanks for being a FANTASTIC Wonder Friend! :-)

  9. My pony has a lighting bolt mane and I have lighting bolt clothes. I get shocked a lot. I kinda stinks, but I don’t mind.

    • Thanks for sharing about your super cool pony, LIGHTING BOLT RIDER! We bet your lightning bolt clothes are AWESOME! We appreciate your comment today! :-)

  10. I LIKE HORSES!!!!! THEY’RE MY FAVORITE ANIMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I MEAN SERIOUSLY, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We’re glad you visited today’s Wonder about horses and ponies, Lydia! It ROCKS that you love horses so much! We hope you liked exploring the links found throughout this Wonder to learn even MORE about them! Thanks for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Hello, Jason! Thanks for visiting today’s Wonder and THANKS for leaving us a comment to let us know you were here! :-)

  11. Some of us have wished we had a pony. Horses in the video look cool. Do horses generally weigh more than ponies? Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Happy Friday, Mr. Draper’s Class! We’re glad you guys stopped by Wonderopolis for another AWESOME visit today! We really liked learning about ponies and horses, and we’re glad you did, too! We’re not sure whether horses weigh more than ponies. We think it might depend on the breed and the horse’s/pony’s age, but we don’t know for certain. We guess we will all have to do a bit more WONDERing about that! :-)

  12. This is really cool. I bet tomorrow’s wonder will be about jolly ranchers can it please be about jolly ranchers?? :)

    • Hi, Abby! We’re not sure what the next Wonder will be about, but we like your guess! Maybe a CANDY-themed Wonder is what’s in store for us tomorrow! We can’t wait to find out! :-)

  13. This was a good Wonder!!!!! I always knew there was a difference, but I learned more about the difference. Good Job with today’s Wonder!!!!!

    I agree with Caelah, the background is cool!!!


    • We’re glad you learned some new, interesting facts about equines today, Annie! Thanks for letting us know you think this Wonder AND the Wonderopolis background are both great! :-)

  14. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Now we know the difference between a pony and a horse! We never knew a pony was smaller than a horse. We love ponies so much! We have lots of guesses on what tomorrow’s wonder might be, like, jealousy, leprechauns, and poison ivy.

    We learned that it is awesome to wonder! Thanks!

    • We’re not sure about that one, Caelah! That picture is called an “avatar,” and it can be linked to a specific email account, blog account or some other account online! We think it might be a great idea to ask your mom or dad to help you figure that one out! :-)

  15. I had the pleasure of meeting Geno, Cathy and Heather this weekend, which is how I heard about this website. My boys, Hunter and Hayden, LOVE this! We’ll be sharing this site with their school.

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Tonya, Hunter and Hayden! We are SUPER glad you guys like learning here…it’s LOTS of fun to WONDER! We are excited that you will be sharing about us with your classmates at school! We hope you have a WONDERful weekend! :-)

  16. Hi, wonderopolis. I wanted to say that the video that you guys posted did not really answer the wonder of the day for me, and also I don’t like horses. If one man showed up at my house dressed up like a horse I might spray him with the hose.

    ((smile)) (giggle)

    • Hello, Yamel! Thanks SO MUCH for visiting Wonderopolis and sharing your opinion about the video for today’s Wonder! Sometimes the video we choose for the Wonder of the Day® might explain the Wonder a little better, but sometimes they just add something “extra” to the Wonder experience! We think the video for this Wonder did just that! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts about ponies and horses, Bryce! Sometimes horses can be a little on the small side, too! We encourage you to re-explore today’s Wonder and click on the picture links to learn more about that! :-)

    • Hmmmmm. We WONDER what worm saddles might look like, Mr. Flab, and do worms really enjoy riding ponies? Thanks for making us WONDER today…we enjoy your clever comments! :-)

  17. Yeah, ponies!!!!! Like I always wanted for a wonder. I hope someday there will be chihuahuas wonder!!!!

    • We’re glad you like today’s Wonder of the Day®, Jenna! We think a future Wonder about chihuahuas is a GREAT idea, too! Thanks for suggesting it…have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We hope you’ll explore today’s Wonder to find out if they are or not, Camille! Thanks for leaving us a GREAT comment! :-)

  18. Hi there, Moa and Carolyn! Thank you BOTH for sharing your awesome smiley faces with sunglasses! They make us happy (in a super cool sort of way)! :-)

  19. Cool horses and love the music. We both have different opinions. My friend thinks the music is creepy, but I love it. Keep posting more wonders, our 5 grade teacher always takes us here every afternoon. Bye.

    • We think it’s GREAT that you guys have different opinions about the music in today’s Wonder video, D & K! Everyone has things they like and things they don’t care for. If everyone always liked the same exact things, the world wouldn’t be quite as WONDERful! :-)

      We’ll keep posting Wonders if you keep visiting us with your class every afternoon, OK? Thanks for being AWESOME Wonder Friends! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing how you feel about horses and ponies, Kylie, and THANK YOU for visiting Wonderopolis today! We think horses and ponies are SUPER FUN animals to learn about! :-)

  20. I have a lot of smiley faces. And my brother wanted me to send them in as a comment.

    And here is a mouse!!!
    ha ha!

    • Those are GREAT smileys, Annie! Thank you so much for sharing them! Please tell your brother that your friends in Wonderopolis said, “Hello!” :-)

    • Those are all GREAT questions, Yossi! We appreciate you sharing what you WONDER about! There are LOTS of Wonder Friends (just like YOU) who WONDER about many different things all the time! Whenever they WONDER, they click on the “nominate” link at the top of each page in Wonderopolis and tell us what they’re WONDERing about! You can always leave us a comment like you did today to let us know your WONDER ideas, too! :-)

    • We think so, too, Kate! Thanks so much for exploring this Wonder of the Day® today and leaving us a comment…we hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

  21. Hey Wonderopolis!
    Aren’t ponies just a smaller version of a horse?
    My little brother has ridden a pony at a fair and it was named Speckle because it has speckles on its stomach and even more on its back!
    I think tomorrow’s wonder might be about poison ivy…

    • Hi, Kayla! Thanks so much for sharing your story about the pony your brother rode at the fair! Speckles is an AWESOME name! We invited you to explore all the links and information in this Wonder of the Day® to learn why ponies aren’t just smaller versions of horses! It’s really cool stuff to learn about! :-)

    • We think it ROCKS that you are going to share Wonderopolis with your kiddos, Malissa! The family that WONDERs together learns together! Have a GREAT day! :-)

  22. It all matters about the height. If a horse is fully grown then it could be pony be it matters about how tall they are!!! I LOVE WONDEROPOLIS!!!! :)

    • Hi there, Kamryn! We appreciate you sharing some of the AWESOME things you know about the difference in horses and ponies! You helped make this Wonder EXTRA WONDERful…THANKS! :-)

    • Thanks for leaving us this GREAT comment today, Devan! Did you know there is already an AWESOME Wonder about monkeys? It’s past Wonder #566 – Why Is It So Fun To Monkey Around? Here is a link that will take you right to it: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-is-it-so-fun-to-monkey-around/. :-)

      We liked figuring out the math problems from your comment this morning, too! Thanks for helping wake up our Wonder brains with FUN! :-)

  23. Have y’all done a wonder on sugar gliders???????? I really want to know more, or oooh, hamsters!!! I really want one!

    • A Wonder on sugar gliders or hamsters sounds like a GREAT idea, Devan! Thanks so much for suggesting it! We think sugar gliders are super cute…we would like to WONDER more about them, too! :-)

    • That’s a cool way to thing about it, “Pony!” Thanks for sharing what you know about this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • That’s what LOTS of Wonder Friends might think, Cody, but they are actually different species! Isn’t that cool? We encourage you to re-explore this Wonder of the Day® to learn more about the differences in ponies and horses! :-)

    • We’re glad you liked today’s Wonder, Hackey 789! Thanks for letting us know and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing how you feel about ponies and horses, Sara! We appreciate your comment and we think they are both really awesome creatures, too! :-)

  24. Hi wonderopolis,
    This was an phenomenal wonder about horses and ponies! I knew from backround knowledge the a pony is usually 14.2 hands or under. I go to a horse camp where we learn about the measurements of both horses and ponies, I can use this wonder to help me! I was wondering, what is the tallest horse in the world? So I looked it up and saw that he is 20.2 hands high, for me I thought that was amazing! When I was younger I always thought that ponies were little horses but I soon found out they are many ways that they’re different. I never knew that all horses were considered equines. I think that the next day’s wonder will be about being jealous because being green with envy means you are super jealous about something.

    • Hi Fitz, thanks for WONDERing with us today! We are glad you learned so much about ponies– and your horse camp sounds SUPER cool, too! Thanks for sharing your comment with us– we’ll see you soon! :)

    • WOW, how cool, horses rock! It sounds like fun at your house (or farm)! We Wonder if you and your family care for them, or if there are others who help you? :)

  25. I have always wanted a pony for Christmas. I love them so much. I have since I was little. I love to ride horses, this website really helped me. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear that this Wonder made you smile, Megan O! We have a LOT of pony lovers here at Wonderopolis, too! Even if we don’t have one to keep, ponies and horses are always fun to Wonder about! Thanks for joining the fun today! :)

  26. COOL I liked that video!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  27. I LOVE PONIES!(and horses) I don’t have a horse or a pony but I want one. P.S. How do you type a smiley face???Please answer back.

    • We are glad you’ve been WONDERing about two of your favorite animals, Katie! Thanks for sharing your comment… we have another Wonder you might enjoy. The zebra and the horse are actually related! Wonder #852– Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-zebras-have-stripes-2/

      All you have to do to make a :) is hit the semi-colon : and the closed parenthese key ) — they have to be next to one another! : + ) = :)

  28. That was really cool and I have one question about horses. How do you know what kind of marking a white horse has wait let me guess is it by what is on the hooves like a sock? Also I know a lot of stuff about horses like some horses have a star or blaze. I found that out by a book about horses and ponies and you also have to take care of a horse because some horses get barn sour or start to fight some facts are very interesing like a mule is a cross with a female horse and a male donkey.

    • Maddy, we are so impressed with all the WONDERing you have been doing about ponies and horses! We’re learning new vocabulary words from you, like blaze! It’s great that you’ve been doing your own reading and research about horses! Perhaps you will work with horses in your future profession! Thanks for telling us all about what you learned! :)

  29. Thank you for the amazing and WONDERing comment that you wrote. I also learned that a sock is a marking on a horse or pony it’s called a sock because it looks like a sock. I also learned that a mule is a female horse mixed with a male donkey. I thought that was pretty WONDERtastic to me. I also learned that a horse can get barnsour and try to run away…. Also, did you know that a horse can not lift as much as a shetland pony? Did you know that an arab (that’s a horse breed) is a very stong and muscular horse…?

    • We can’t take credit for our Wonder videos, Maddy, but we are so glad to have Wonder Friends all over the world who share their work! We love looking for new awesome videos to share with our Wonderopolis community! Thanks for sharing your comment- we’re happy this video made you smile! :)

  30. :)

    Did you know that some horses are called polo ponies and horses are measured in hand high and the abbreviation for hands high is h.h.? I also learned that some ponies can be the size of a regualar hores. I also learned that some parts of the horse are very very sensitive. I also learned that a filly is a baby horse between one year to four years old.
    P.S. I am the one who keeps responding.

    • WOW Maddy, we are so excited you’re back to tell us all about the different names for ponies and horses! There are so very many details that are different when it comes to those animals. We hope you’ll keep WONDERing with us– you ROCK! :)

  31. I love horses. I think I know what is the difference of a pony and a horses. Horses are bigger and ponies are smaller and furier. Do you think that is true wonderopolis? Please answer.

    • Hey Jarylyn, thanks for sharing your comment! We are so happy you’ve been using your WONDERful imagination to compare and contrast horses and ponies! Nice work, Wonder Friend! YOU ROCK! :)

  32. I really like horse and ponies a lot! I was wondering if ponies are more money then horse? and are ponies harder to take care of?

    • Hey Olivia, great question! It all depends on the person or farm that raises the animals! We bet you can do some research of your own to start saving up for your very own animal! :)

  33. A pony and a horse aren’t even separate species. Both are classified under Equus Caballus, i.e. domestic horses. A pony simply belongs to a short breed of horses. To write about their difference is like writing about the difference between Huskies and dogs, or polar bears and bears.

    • Yes, Chris. That is true, but can you tell us some other ways that ponies and horses are different? Keep WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend! :-)

    • That’s a good question, Gracie! We found that a horse named Einstein was born weighing the size of a newborn baby, but the Guinness World Record holder is currently Thumbelina! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How are ponies and horses different?
  • What is an equine?
  • Can a horse be small and still be a horse?


Wonder Gallery

pony_shutterstock_50279794Vimeo Video

Try It Out

How would you dress up your pony if you had one? Jump online to play the My Little Pony dress-up game and decorate your pony any way you want!

As you learned, there are some breeds of horses that are particularly small (like ponies), but are still considered horses. To see pictures of some of these animals, check out National Geographic’s Miniature Horses online photo gallery.

To see pictures of different breeds of ponies, check out the online Pony Breed Gallery. Which pony breed is your favorite?


Still Wondering

Check out National Geographic Education’s Pony Express Route resource to explore a map of the Pony Express, a trail that used 80 riders and 400-500 horses to carry mail from the settled Midwest to the new state of California.


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