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What is the difference between pony riders and horse riders?

Have you ever thought about the basic – and amusing – differences between pony riders and horse riders? When you put it into sharp focus, besides age and height, each has some quirky characteristics that emphasise how different we as riders are – and, importantly, how much we can learn from each other. Here, the editorial team considers what distinguishes these two types of riders.

The pony rider

The young rider and her pony are unmistakable. There's a full array of colours and glitter – and often the same goes for the pace. The pony rider is fearless and loves to gallop across the fields – and if she falls off, she gets right back up again. This also means that a jump can hardly ever be too high and a challenge rarely too big. In the dressage arena, the pony rider may occasionally experience resistance. This is simply because the pony doesn't always agree with its rider's instructions – and because a racing gallop is rarely the favourite discipline of the horse rider – so she has to tolerate quite a bit. However, she is also one of the most affectionate beings you can find in a stable. She frequently shares hugs, kisses, and treats and loves her pony like her best friend – and she always has a little extra love to give to the other horses in the stable.


Also read: Exmoor pony: The little wild one

The horse rider

The horse rider is somewhat more subdued. However, this doesn't mean that the pair is hard to recognise. Positioned high on her horse, the horse rider has the best overview of what's happening on the riding track – for better or worse. To the pony rider, she can seem like a principled person, always emphasising that one walks within the hoof beat, doesn't ride two abreast, and remembers to look up. The horse rider is fully justified, as her comments are often simply due to a loving desire for safety for everyone's benefit. Fortunately, it's at least as common for the horse rider, with her caring role, to serve as a great role model for the younger riders. Not least does she show her best side when she kindly helps the younger girls in the stable to correctly position the saddle and tighten the girth.

Also read: Study: Some riders prioritize the safety of the horse above their own

When opposites meet

The two types of riders each embody admirable values that are beneficial for the social environment in a stable: the pony rider's zest for fun and mischief, and the horse rider's well-intentioned sense of reason. Doesn't it just make riding an even better sport, that we can occasionally laugh at each other's mistakes and misunderstandings? And what would simultaneously happen if we didn't have our wits about us somewhere amid all the fun?


The difference between pony riders and horse riders underscores what is special about equestrian sports, among many other things: the diversity. Not just between the rider with a horse and the rider with a pony, but between riders in general. We have vastly different approaches to handling our horses, and this forces us in the best sense to respect and learn from each other's differences - and we can certainly be proud of that​.


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