Our Newsletter to your inbox every week!
In time, the POAC’s goals broadened with the desire to develop a medium-sized pony with a “little horse” look—one equally suitable for older children and young or petite adults. The Shetland blood was phased out of the POA breeding program as larger ponies like the Welsh and smaller horses like Arabians and wild mustangs were bred with Appaloosas, Quarter horses and Indian ponies. The original breed height requirement of 44 to 52 inches was amended in 1963 to a range of between 46 and 54 inches. Finally in 1985, the height range was raised to an upper limit of 54 inches, or 13.5 hands. A variety of breed crosses have been allowed into the registry as long as the animals have met the breed’s physical requirements, which have remained steadfast.
Today the POAC has over 50,000 registered ponies. It is one of the largest youth-oriented breed registries with 2,000 plus members and more than forty affiliated chapters, hosting a multitude of competitive events.
A defining and cherished characteristic of the Pony of the Americas is their Appaloosa-like coat colors which must be “loud,” meaning visible from forty feet. Two of the most recognizable and typical coat patterns are the blanket and leopard, though the coat may be snow-capped (a white-rumped variation of the blanket pattern) or roan. POA’s have mottled skin, evidenced by the variety of pigmented and unpigmented skin where the coat hair is thin or absent, often speckled on the muzzle and patchy in the genital area. Like Appaloosas, hooves have black and white vertical stripes.
The breed averages 11.2-14 hands and while the POA is called a “pony,” it actually has the phenotype or physical characteristics of a small horse, and “looks and moves like its larger counterparts.”
POA’s have refined heads that are often slightly dished. They must have white sclera in at least one eye, that is visible when the eye is open normally.
The ponies’ chests are deep, their shoulders well muscled and sloping. In general, this distinctive breed of pony combines the elegance of the Arabian, the coloration of the Appaloosa and the muscle strength and bone mass of a Quarter horse.
POA’s are rugged, athletic, intelligent and patient. Though mainly bred for Western riding, they are also often used by younger equestrians in English disciplines, driving and even dressage, making this flashy little pony “a complete package for any horse lover!”
To learn more about the Pony of the Americas, visit: POAC.ORG
(Originally published in the November 2014 issue of Cowgirl Magazine).