Ponies for Adults?

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  • Renee Rider Original Poster Renee Rider
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 2

    I was wondering what people in the united states thought about adults riding ponies? And I do not mean barrel racing, trail riding, or any other type of hard riding. Just simply riding them at a walk around the pasture for a short time. Of course it depends on the size and weight of the adult and the size of the pony. But lets say the adult was 5 foot 8 inches and weigh 150 lb. (not fat in any way) and the pony was a 10 hh Shetland. Shetland ponies are very strong and sturdy for their size. In the UK adults ride Shetland ponies some times and the ponies are always healthy, and fine with it. Plus I think it would give novice adults, wanting to learn to ride, the experience and confidence they need. If anyone does not know about the Shetland breed I would greatly appreciate it if you would do some research on them before replying.


    A horse doesn't care how much you know, until he knows how much you care.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Ponies (smaller ones) can, at times, walk right out from underneath adults. They are frequently not easy for an inexperienced person to handle as well. It would depend on the pony in question, regardless of breed.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I think that more adults should consider riding ponies or pony size horse breeds. I personally would recommend both Haflingers and Bashkir Curlies, if you are looking for something fun loving and sturdy.

    Sugarmouse Sugarmouse
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    I am also 5’8″ and 150lb…I cannot for one minute imagine being comfortable riding a Shetland pony…I think my feet would drag on the ground! There’s nothing wrong with adults riding ponies,(Clinton Anderson only rides ponies which I find odd for a big man) but if you can’t sit comfortably, you won’t ride effectively. Many years ago I used to ride my daughter’s 13hh Welsh pony – everyone said I looked ridiculous but it was tremendous fun! If you want a pony, at your height and weight, I think you need a sturdily built one of at least 13.2hh to be able to ride properly at your height. Haflingers as someone else said are perfect for adults!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 25

    Paso finos are horses, but are frequently pony-sized. My mare is only 13.2, but I ride her all the time. She’s very energetic on trail rides – she definitely doesn’t seem to be over-loaded.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I ride a 13.1 Welsh Section B mare. I am 5’4″, and she has no problem at all carrying me. That said, I am very careful about tack and use a 5 Star pad with my western saddle. She has good care, gets turn out, and we ride about 5 days a week so she is in top condition. I particularly like her size because she is perfect for me to handle. She does occasionally get a bit of pony attitude, but I have a friend helping me deal with those blips. The Welsh come in 4 unique sizes from Mountain pony Section A to cobs Section C and D. There should be something for nearly everyone unless you are a larger person. The flip side of the pony attitude is that she is very sweet and loving and likes contact with me. I think you will see many adults riding Welsh if you go to a breed show. Give a pony a chance! I love mine! And, she drives, too.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 15

    Much has to do with size of adult and size of pony. When my daughter was in Pony Club I used to work with the owner of the pony club. It required that I exercised and schooled the ponies for the children. I’m abut 5’7″ and weighed at the time about 128 lbs. I was not riding any Shetland ponies, but I was riding Welsh Ponies section B – D.

    Ponies can be very willful and are far faster at coming up with mischief than any large horse. They take more skill than many riders are willing to believe.

    Anyhow, depending upon your size and how much riding planned…. Choose your horse/pony accordingly.

    I have an American Shetland pony stallion measuring in at 44.5 inches tall. I’ve backed him, but as mentioned…. They can walk out from under us and he did it to me once when I sat on him in just a halter. I got a good laugh out of it. But please remember. They’re faster, smarter, stronger, more willful and far more athletic than you can dream of.

    If you have to have a pony. Make sure it’s minimum a large section B pony. But really, choose more wisely a section D pony which will have the strength to carry you for more than just a few minutes….

    Also, build the pony up if not used to being ridden by an adult.

    Good luck

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    It all depends on the weight of the adult vs the size of the horse. Do you know about the 20% weight rule? It states that the rider should not weigh more that 20 percent of the horse/ponies weight. Any more that that could cause health and/or spinal problems. Ponies sure will humble you.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Hello Avalon or should I say “Howdy?” like in the Western movies. I also occasionally ride with an “English” saddle on contact and jump but one can also jump, usually a tad behind, in a Stock seat or Western saddle.

    I Googled Shetland Pony to reaquaint myself about this Scotish breed. Briefly i found:
    The Shetland pony is the smallest breed of horse, originating in the Shetland Islands. The Shetland Pony is the strongest horse for its size and can pull up to twice its own weight. Shetland Ponies are an extremely tough and durable breed, with a thick double coat in the winter. Some Shetlands can carry up to 130 pounds on their backs, but it is important to be cautious with putting too much weight on their backs because it can lead to back pain and other lameness issues. Many Shetland Ponies are long-lived, and it is not unusual for a Shetland pony to live more than 30 years.

    The height of the Shetland Pony is traditionally counted in inches, not in hands. Shetlands are generally between 38- 40 inches in height, but are not to exceed 42 inches (for most American Shetlands the limit is 46 inches). Shetlands range in size from a minimum height of approximately 28 inches (7.0 hands; 71 cm) to an official maximum height of 10.2 hands (42 inches, 107 cm) at the withers (11.2 hands (46 inches, 117 cm) for American Shetlands).

    The Shetland Pony is one of the world’s most popular ponies. It can be a great first riding pony for small children due to its small size and gentle personality. They are wonderful children’s mounts for pleasure riding and at riding schools. These ponies are great for harness driving and are a favorite entry in parades. Shetlands can be found at fairs for pony rides and at petting zoos. They are also used as guide animals and in therapeutic programs for the mentally or physically challenged. In the United Kingdom they are featured in the Shetland Pony Grand National, galloping around a racetrack with young jockeys.

    Many “pony” breeds can be clever and stubborn and be a challenge to ride. Being under five feet tall, I like to ride ponies and small horses and find them challenging when they often outsmart me. But many horse sized 14h2″ and up can behave the same way and I prefer horses no larger than 15 hands 2 inches and not wide. As a Western rider I prefer the Western horse breeds like the American Quarter Horse, Paint Horse, Pinto Horse, Appaloosa and…believe it or not- Mules, which cannot be shown in horse shows, only in mule shows.

    You are gently riding your Shetland walking around a field and s/he is healthy and happy, I can only applaud you for doing what you like with your wonderful horse. Also, the weight of your thighs and legs do not really contribute to the weight on the animal’s back, even with stirrups. And the information quoted from a Google search is a generalization, each person and horse is different and you two seem well suited for each other and need no one’s approval. I agree with you that many adults would enjoy riding ponies and the Icelandic pony is quite popular in the U.S. A much often quoted horse saying here is, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a (hu)man. Enjoy your pnny and riding. P.S. I am an Anglophile.

    Best regards,


    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    There was a study of the effect of weight on horses that was done in Sweden and reported via the Blood Horse in this country; the study looked at the impact of the riders’ weights on the horses’ gaits, and discovered that when the rider’s weight exceeded 20 per cent of the horse’s, there was disruption of the gait. This is the only scientific study I’m aware of on the subject of riders’size; I think the take home is match the adult to the pony by weight, and then rider height for the safety and comfort of both.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 5

    Well, it looks like you certainly got some responses. Renee, you may want to explain a little more of what you are asking and the situation. I know Shetlands well and although they are one of the strongest “ponies” for their size ratio, it is sometimes very hard to stay with them while in the saddle. Yes, your legs do hang down and the weight is a bit much for any kind of consistent work or even over a few weeks/months however “light” work it might be..

    I am English and have competed all over Europe and now in the US, so to answer your question: In my opinion from what I have seen, ponies (big or small) would be frowned upon if an adult were riding it. Ponies are becoming more popular in the US but they are still not totally accepted yet, I do hope it will get there.

    There are a lot of variables here which have not been explained. Is the Shetland a stocky sturdy one, that could handle more weight for some schooling or more of a fine Shetland who probably will not be able to handle the weight. Is the rider experienced or not, if the rider were more experienced than they would probably be able to distribute their weight more evenly and not have it all on the saddle on the spine which is where a novice tends to carry their weight while learning. Is the rider learning and the pony more experienced so that the pony can teach the rider or is it the other way around. Does the tack fit correctly, is there a sufficient nummah (saddle pad). I have seen, much too often here that tack does not fit correctly and then the horse is hurt somehow or can not move to it’s full potential. There is too much of “fit the horse to the tack” not “fit the tack to the horse”. It really comes down to the situation but if you have done your training and exams in the UK, you should have a good base and horse care/knowledge.

    Good Luck

    Renee Rider Original Poster Renee Rider
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 2

    Thank you so much for everyone’s thoughts on “Ponies for Adults”! I don’t have any ponies yet but I have always loved them, and I would like to get one someday. My favorite breeds have always been the Icelandic, Haflingers, Welsh, Shetland, and Bashkir Curlies. 🙂

    A horse doesn't care how much you know, until he knows how much you care.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Haflingers are ponies in the sense that they are typically under 15 hands, but because they are so broad backed, they can easily be excellent mounts for adults. What defines an equine as a “pony” also depends on whose rules one it looking at. 4-H rules require ponies to be no bigger than 14 hands, while USEF rules allow ponies to be 14-2. The little ponies can be very hard for an adult to balance on, as there often is just not enough horse beneath the rider for the rider to stay centered & blalance. Also the rider’s leg length and possibly weight may not be compatible with what a “pony” is built to carry easily. Ponies come in such a wide range of shapes & sizes that it can be difficult to to group all “ponies” into one category and come up with a single set of rules that will work for all “ponies”.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    I’m still a teenager, but I’m “adult sized”. At 5’4″, I still ride, show, and help train ponies. One of my mares is still considered a pony at 14.1, and I ride her consistently. Last summer, I rode my sisters old 11-12hh spunky pony, and during the winter I rode a quarter pony about the same height and a Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse that’s around 12-13hh. None of them have had any trouble carrying me. It’s acrually pretty common in the gaited horse world to see fairly large men riding ponies who’s legs are about as long as the man’s. Icelandic Horses are usually pony sized, yet grown adults ride them all the time and they don’t seem to have any problems just riding right along even at faster paces.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 15

    I see that this subject is still active so I want to add this.

    Can adults ride ponies? Sure they can, but we have to relate the issue to the size of the pony and the size of the adult.

    First up – certain pony breeds are stronger than others. Take the Welsh Cob which is pound for pound super strong. Another is the Icelandic which for some strange idea is being referred to as a “horse”, while in fact it’s a pony sized mount.

    Secondly – there are small and very light adults.

    So, according to the US Cavalry manual of old, the equation is, the rider and tack (yes that does include your huge Western saddle or whatever) not to exceed 20% of the horse’s weight. But that’s the absolute max.

    Fact is that the horse or pony, will preform better if the equation is more around 10 % of the horse’s weight, give or take.

    So, a large pony of a strong breed like a Welsh Cob, Connemara or such is most capable in carrying an adult. But we need to consider the weight of the adult.

    I found out that the average weight of a New Forest Pony, comparable to a Welsh Cob, is 300 – 500 Kg or 662 – 1103 lbs. That’s a huge variation. Now for simplicity sake lets calculate that the one we’re looking at is 800 lbs. At 10% the rider and tack should weigh no more than 80 lbs. At 15% that comes to 120 lbs and at 20% it comes to 160 lbs.

    Just food for thoughts and nothing set in stones. I have myself as an adult ridden and competed on Welsh Cobs and at the time I weighed in at about 128 lbs plus the tack. I can attest the ponies/horses had no issue with my weight nor did anyone ever question the pony’s ability to handle my weight.

    Still, my feeling is that these are judgments needed to be made by those capable of doing so.

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