Horse Breeds Native To America
The Pony of the Americas
The Pony of the Americas (POA) is a pony breed developed in America for its young riders. POAs should have substance and symmetry. POAs can vary from 46 inches (11.2hh) and 56 inches (14hh) in height.
The head is clean cut and has a slightly concave profile. The prominent eye is large with a kind expression. The ears are medium in size and carried in an alert manner.
The skin around the nostrils and lips is mottled and the sclera of the eyes is white. The throat is clean cut and the chest deep. The shoulders are well muscled and sloping. The withers should be prominent and the legs strong with short cannon bones, wide fetlocks, moderately long and sloping pasterns and rounded hooves that are open and wide at the heels. The back is short and straight but the underline long.
The hooves should be striped. The mottled skin, white sclera and striped hooves are characteristics of all Appaloosa equines, tall or short.The paces are relaxed with a long, easy stride at the walk and a ground-covering trot. There should be no excessive knee or hock action. The canter is rolling and comfortable.
The POA began when Les Boomhower bought an Arab/Appaloosa mare which was in foal to a Shetland. Les was a breeder of Shetlands. The resulting colt was white with black smears all over his body. The splotches on the colt's flank were in the form of a black hand and the pony was subsequently called Black Hand. Les set up a breed registry with some friends and the Pony of the Americas Club was born.
Strict guidelines were enforced from day 1. Ponies were to be between 44 and 52 inches with a small, dished head reminiscent of an Arab, a compact, muscled body like a Quarter Horse and the colouring of an Appaloosa (visible at 40 feet). All Appaloosa coat patterns occur in the POAs.
These coat patterns are:
- Frost - white specks on a dark background
- Marble - mottled pattern all over the body
- Blanket - spots on the hip and rump
- Snowcap - widespread spotting but generally concentrated on the rump
- Leopard - most or all of the body being white with dark egg-shaped spots.
The POA was intended for children so it had to be easy to handle and train. Adults could show POAs at halter or in harness. The concept was to bridge the gap between a small pony and a full-size horse. It is rugged and athletic with the speed and endurance for games and jumping and the patience for equitation.
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From these humble beginnings of one stallion in 1954, registrations in 1996 numbered over 40,000. In 1963, height limits were changed to 46 to 54 inches. Efforts were made to achieve a 'little horse' look by eliminating Shetlands from the breeding program and using Welsh, Mustang, Arab, Quarter horse and Appaloosa blood. In 1973, the age limit of the child rider went from 16 to 18. In 1985, the upper height limit of ponies was raised to 56 inches and the age limit of the child rider went from 16 to 18. Today there is a complete array of awards for every conceivable class.
POAs have a kind, obedient disposition and carry their young riders into every allowable equestrian pursuit.