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A pony is a type of small horse (Equus ferus caballus). Depending on the context, a pony may be a horse that is under an approximate or exact height at the withers, or a small horse with a specific conformation and temperament. Compared to a larger horse, a pony may have a thicker coat, mane and tail, with proportionally shorter legs, a wider barrel, heavier bone, a thicker neck and a shorter, broader head. The word pony derives from the old French poulenet, meaning foal, a young, immature horse.
Small horses and ponies were traditionally used for riding, driving and as pack beasts. During the Industrial Revolution, particularly in Great Britain, many were used as pit ponies, hauling loads of coal in the mines. In the modern era they may be kept as children's mounts, for recreational or competitive riding or driving, or for cultural or conservation reasons.
Ponies are generally considered intelligent and friendly. They are sometimes also described as stubborn or cunning. Properly trained ponies are appropriate mounts for children who are learning to ride. Larger ponies can be ridden by adults, as ponies are usually strong for their size. In modern use, some organizations may define a pony as a mature horse below a certain height at the withers; this may vary from about 142 cm (14.0 h) to nearly 150 cm (14.3 h). Some breeds classify an animal as either horse or pony from its pedigree and phenotype, no matter its height. A full-sized horse may sometimes be called a pony as a term of endearment.
For many forms of competition, the official definition of a pony is a horse that measures less than 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) at the withers. Standard horses are 14.2 or taller. The International Federation for Equestrian Sports defines the official cutoff point at 148 centimetres (58.3 in; 14.2 hands) without shoes and 149 centimetres (58.66 in; 14.2+1⁄2 hands) with shoes, though allows a margin for competition measurement of up to 150 centimetres (59.1 in; 14.3 hands) without shoes, or 151 centimetres (59.45 in; 14.3+1⁄2 hands) with shoes. However, the term pony can be used in general (or affectionately) for any small horse, regardless of its actual size or breed. Furthermore, some horse breeds may have individuals who mature under that height but are still called horses and are allowed to compete as horses. In Australia, horses that measure from 14 to 15 hands (142 to 152 cm; 56 to 60 inches) are known as a "galloway", and ponies in Australia measure under 14 hands (56 inches, 142 cm).
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