Tough. Powerful. Clever. The genuine pony displays the traits of centuries of pony progenitors, distinguishing himself from small horse breeds. In general, the pony is the same animal as the horse, yet he has many traits that make him unique. Those differences endear fanciers of all ages, with adults as the strongest supporters of pony breeds.

The pony is of the same species as the horse, Equus caballus. The genus Equus has eight species, although scientists have disagreed on precise classifications and whether the pony forms a distinct zoological type. (Note: The miniature horse is a separate breed, not to be confused with the pony.) Ponies have the same anatomy and general physiology as the horse, yet their conformation and character sets them apart.

So, what exactly distinguishes the ponies from the horses?

Physical attributes can differentiate a pony from a horse. In general, the typical pony has a compact body. Ponies have a round shape and stocky build, which includes a wide chest and well-sprung ribs. The length of his legs place him close to the ground (for example, the Dales pony should have a cannon measurement of only eight to nine inches). Other characteristics include a short head and neck, trim ears, and large eyes.

In general, pony breeds typically have ample bone, as compared to the horse. “Ponies have dense bone, and that makes them weigh a lot more for their size,” says Ruth Wilburn, DVM. Based in Olive Branch, Miss., “Dr. Ruth” meets many ponies in her practice, and raises Welsh ponies herself.

“Ponies are very sturdy,” explains Cathy Harris, DVM, of Richmond, Mo. Harris trea