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The I Love Ponies guide to horse breeds

There are very many horse and pony breeds all over the world – and here are some facts about just some of them!

This glamorous pony comes from Austria and is always a prettty golden chestnut or palomino colour. The mane and tail is always a creamy white called flaxen. Quiet and friendly, the Haflinger is great for children and adults alike and all Haflingers which are registered with the breed society have a brand of the Austrian flower, the Eidelwies, with a letter H in the centre. Haflingers can often be seen in Austria pulling sleighs!

Height: Up to 13.3hh
Colour: Always chestnut with a creamy mane and tail.


This breed was around during the time of the ancient Romans, over two thousand years ago! A heavy breed from France and Belgium, the Ardennais has been used for both riding and driving. Ardennais horses pulled French guns and carts full of food for the soldiers of Napoleon when he invaded Russia in the early 19th Century. Today, the horse is much heavier than it was in ancient times.

Height: 15.3hh and above
Colours: Roan and red-roan are popular. Also iron grey, dark chestnut and bay. Brown, light chestnut and palomino are also found.


This pony is Ireland’s native pony and originated in Connemara, on Ireland’s west coast. The pony has been crossed with other breeds – Arabs, Welsh cobs, Thoroughbreds and even Hackneys – to become the lovely pony we know today. Connemara ponies are strong and hardy and are great riding and driving ponies. They are usually good jumpers!

Height: Up to 14.2hh
Colours: Grey is the most popular colour. Black, bay, brown, dun, roan and chestnut are also found.

FjordThe Fjord

This is a pony you cannot mistake! With its upright mane and dun colouring, the Fjord pony is unique! Norway is the home of the Fjord, and it was the noble fighting horse of the Vikings. Today, the Fjord pony is used for ploughing, as a pack pony and in harness, as well as being ridden. Fjord ponies are hardy and great all-rounders!

Height: 13 – 14hh
Colour: Always dun – and look out for zebra markings on the legs!

HackneyThe Hackney

These high-stepping horses and ponies have to be seen to be believed! Bred from trotting horses from Norfolk and Yorkshire, they have the most impressive high stepping trot, their legs lifting higher than you can imagine! The movement is very difficult for riding, so the Hackney is usually only seen in harness. Hackneys are popular in the Netherlands, the USA and Canada, as well as Great Britain.

Height: The Hackney Horse is between 14 – 15.3hh. The Hackney Pony is up to 14hh.
Colour: Hackneys are bay, dark brown, chestnut or black.

Quarter HorseQuarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse gets its name because it is the fastest horse over a quarter of a mile! They are quiet and kind horses, with well developed muscles on the hindquarters – which gives them the power to move so fast! Quarter Horse racing is popular in the USA and Quarter Horses are also brilliant at herding cattle, so are popular cow ponies. There are millions of Quarter Horses registered in the USA!

Height: 15 – 15.2hh
Colour: Almost all colours. Chestnut is the most common.

Welsh Section AWelsh Section A

There are four types of Welsh ponies, and the Section A is the smallest and prettiest. Also known as Welsh Mountain Ponies, they make lovely children’s riding ponies – although they are very intelligent and quick-witted, so you need to pay attention when you ride them!

Height: Up to 12.hh
Colours: Grey is the most common colour, but almost all colours are found, apart from piebald, skewbald and spotted.

Welsh Pony Section CWelsh Pony Section C
This pony is a cob. That means it’s a chunky pony which can carry children and adults. It was originally a mixture of the Section A and Spanish Horses and this little cob is still pretty, but with a heavier body. A Welsh cob can be driven or ridden and has a lot of stamina, able to work all day – and it looks smart, too!

Height: Up to 13.2hh
Colour: All solid colours – so no piebald, skewbald or spotted.


The smallest of the British native breeds, the Shetland comes from the Island of Shetland, north of Scotland. Because there isn’t much grass to eat, over the years Shetland ponies got smaller and smaller – but tougher and tougher! Native Shetlands can even eat seaweed when there is nothing else to eat! They were a popular choice as pit ponies as they were small but strong. Being very intelligent, they can make challenging children’s ponies!

Height: Up to 40 inches (1.02 metres)
Colour: Grey, brown, black dun and chestnut. They are the only British native pony who can be skewbald or piebald.

ShireThe Shire

The Shire is the biggest horse in the world! It is the tractor and lorry of the horse world, and has been used for pulling heavy loads and ploughing the land for many years. The long hairs on its lower legs is called feather, and takes a long time to clean and dry when a Shire is going to a show! Shires may be big, but they are usually very kind and polite – they’re the gentle giants of the horse world!

Height: Around 17hh – although they can be even bigger!
Colours: Black, brown, bay and grey.


From Iceland, this pony is always called a horse! The most remarkable thing about them is that they don’t walk, trot, canter and gallop like other horses, but they have walk, trot, a fast gallop, the pace and the tölt. Pacing is a smooth trot and the tölt is a running walk, which is very fast and very comfortable for the rider.

Height: 12.2 – 13.2hh
Colours: Chestnut, bay, black, grey, dun, palomino and albino (white with pink eyes), as well as skewbald and piebald.


Home for this pony is the Highlands of Scotland. A chunky pony with a lovely nature, the Highland has been used for farming, as a pack pony and for riding over the mountains. It is strong, healthy and sure-footed. Popular for pony trekking, this pony can take children or adults for a ride!

Height: Up to 14.2hh
Colours: Grey, brown, black, dun and bloodstone, which is a chestnut colour with a silver mane and tail.

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