Tag Archives: Pony

Domestic Equines


In today’s post I am going to cover some basic similarities and differences between common domestic equines; horses and ponies, donkey’s, and mule’s and hinny’s. All of these animals belong to the family Euqidae, and the genus Equus.

Horse (Maggie) and Donkey (Lucy)

Horses and Ponies

Most people know what horses and ponies are, but often are unsure what the difference is. A surprising (to me) number of people have asked me if ponies are baby horses – the answer to that is no; a baby horse or a baby pony (of either gender, under the age of 1 year) is known as a foal. An adult female is known as a Mare, and a juvenile female (under 4 years old) is known as a Filly. An adult male that has been neutered is known as a Gelding, and entire (not neutered) adult male is known as a Stallion, and a juvenile male (under 4 years old) is known as a Colt. The gestation period for horses and ponies is 11-12 months.

There are many different breeds of horses and ponies; from thoroughbred horses to draughts and Shire’s, from cobs to Shetland ponies; within the different types, there are a myriad of colours and patterns – some specific to the breed (e.g. Appaloosa – spotted horse (see below)), others being quite commonplace across many breeds.

Horses are larger than ponies; ponies reach up to 14.2 hh (hands high), and horses are 14.3 hh and taller. The tallest recorded horse to date is a a Belgian Gelding called Big Jake, who was measured in 2010 at just over 20.2 hh.

Horses and ponies have small ears and long faces, long tails and manes, deep chests, and long legs with rounded hooves. They are intelligent creatures, with brilliant speed, agility and strength. Horses have long manes and tails; which need to be kept neat and clean, and are often trimmed, clipped or plaited. Their coats are thin, compared to a donkey’s.

The noises horses and ponies make range from neighing and whinnying to snorting and sighing; these noises can vary a lot in and of themselves, depending on the animal’s mood – body language and posture both help to identify the mood, alongside noises.

Donkey’s

Donkey’s are smaller than horses, and smaller than a good number of pony breeds. An entire male donkey is a known as a Jack (hence the term “Jack-Ass”), a male donkey that has been castrated (or gelded) is known as a John or a gelded-Jack, and a female is known as a Jenny or a Jennet. As with horses and ponies, donkey foals are donkey’s (of either gender) up to one year old, a filly is a female donkey under 4 years of age, and a colt is a male donkey under four yeas old.

The African Wild Ass (which are a critically endangered species according to the IUCN Red List), with a decreasing population, are the wild relatives of the domestic donkey.

There are a fair few different breeds of donkey; from the American Mammoth to the Miniature Mediterranean to the (long-haired) Poitou. The most common colour for a donkey is grey, but they also come in brown, black, roan, white, and a mixture of all of the aforementioned colours; in speckles or patches or other patterns, or just as broken colours. Donkey’s are usually white underneath, but can be solid colours too. Some colours and/or patterns being breed specific.

Donkey’s range from around 7.3 hh to 15.3 hh, with the average height of a donkey being approximately 11-13 hh. Donkey’s are very strong, they have long ears, and hooves rounded the same as a horse/pony. Donkey’s have short brush-like manes, and short tails with fur covering the tail, and a collection of hair at the end. Donkey’s have thicker coats than horse and ponies.

Donkey’s are known to make a braying sound, which most of us would recognise as the classic “hee-haw” donkey noise; this noise is unique to donkey’s, as they can vocalise whilst breathing in and out, unlike horses and zebras. Donkey’s are also known to squeal and snort, amongst producing other sounds.

Mule’s and Hinny’s

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, whereas a hinny is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. A female mule is called a Mare-mule or a Molly-mule, and a male mule is called a Horse-mule or a John-mule.

Genetically, horses have 32 pairs of chromosomes, and donkeys have 31 pairs; due to this, their offspring (when horses and donkeys are bred together) cannot themselves reproduce – they have 63 chromosomes, so one is left without a pair, resulting in mule’s and hinny’s being infertile.

Being part-horse and part-donkey, mule’s and hinny’s are, more often than not, taller than donkeys – ranging from approximately 12 hh to 17 hh. Some suggest that a mule is stronger than a hinny, but others believe it’s hard to gauge as it is hard to tell mule’s and hinny’s apart by appearance. They often inherit the best qualities of both the horse/ pony and the donkey parents; as with crossbreed dogs mule’s and hinny’s often inherit the good characteristics and physiology of their parents, and can be healthier. Physically they can range from looking quite donkey-like, to looking quite horse-like; more often than not they look like what they are – a mix of the two species.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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11th November – We Remember


This day, 11th November, we set aside to remember all the fallen in war; the hero’s who gave their today, for our tomorrow. These brave people and animals gave their lives, fighting to preserve all that they, and we, hold dear. Their selfless acts and sacrifices allow us the freedom we have; for that, and so much more, we remember them.

Horses are the animals primarily thought of when war animals are mention (at least in my experience in conversations); a war horse had many uses. Depending on the military role of the division in which a horse was placed, would often determine the use(s) of the animal.

A war horse would carry soldiers into battle, be used as transport for messengers, would pull equipment, machinery, artillery, supply carts, and much more. However, horses were integral to the war, and soldiers would form bonds with their horse, often sleeping close together for warmth when necessary. Donkey’s and Mule’s would also have been used for similar roles; however less so as transport for riders.

Perhaps a lesser-known animal used for pulling equipment and supplies, not used on the battlefield, but back home. Due to the usual animals used (horses, mules, donkeys, etc) as they had been taken into war, their roles at home were taken over by some less-common animals in their absence. Elephants and camels were used for transporting materials and such, as well as for ploughing fields, hauling hay/straw, and other every-day jobs that needed to be done. One of the more famous, was Lizzie the Indian elephant (pictured below); once part of a travelling circus, had her role in life completely altered by WW1 just as many people had – and she was put to work in a scrap metal yard in Sheffield.

Pigeons and dogs were also used to carry messages during war. Pigeons were useful with their homing instincts, being able to bring them back to where the message came from – thus being able to return a response message to the correct place as necessary. Dogs were able to navigate trenches and battlefields with more ease and speed than a human soldier, which made them great at transporting messages this way. Dogs had other uses in war, such as; being guard and/or watch dogs, using their keen sense of smell to find injured soldiers on the battlefield and carry medical supplies, as ratters, and (my no means least) as companions.

Cats would also have been used for companionship, as well as for rodent control in the trenches and living areas of the soldiers, as well as on Naval ships. As rodents spread disease and deplete food supplies, cats were of great value in war-time.

Although you probably wouldn’t have thought it, slugs were also of great value during war. How? Well, slugs have the ability to detect gas before humans. They close up their breathing pores and compress their body to protect themselves, and survive the gas. As such, soldiers would take a “Slug Brigade” with them, and when they saw the slugs react to gas, they put on their gas masks before the gas reached harmful levels, and many lives were saved.

Thanks to brave men and women on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the many animals playing their part on the battlefields, and back home; thanks to the sacrifices made by so many, we have the lives we live today.

Please check out my November 2014 post Remembrance to see other animals that have been used in wars throughout history.


All other images are open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AlisAnswers)
. LinkedIn (Ali Lloyd)

National Day of the Horse

13th December 2014 – National Day of the Horse

Day of the Horse

Today is National Day of the Horse (and pony) – this varied species comes in all heights (hands heigh – hh), weight ranges, colours, shapes, and personalities; with various talents.

Ponies can be any height up to 14.2hh – once the animal is 14.3hh and above it is classed as a horse. There are over 300 different breeds of horses/ponies in the world. Different breeds have been bred for different uses – racing/speed, trotting, dressage, hacking, strength, jumping, size, colour, coat texture, and height are some of the more modern traits bred for. Horses and ponies were often bred for working purposes rather than recreational/ hobby reasons prior to the invention/ mass production of cars and other machinery; such as work in the mines, on the docks, farming, pulling boats, transporting people – on their backs and by pulling carriages, pulling emergency vehicles, and were often used in war.

Find a collection of various horse and pony breeds, for your viewing pleasure, below…
[all photo’s are either my own personal ones or open source images from the internet]

Curious About Cross-Breeds!

Cross-Breed or Hybrid

Cross-breed means the animal is of mixed blood; the animal is often a mix of two different breeds, or a mix of several breeds. These are often referred to as mongrels for dogs, or moggies for cats, mules in sheep, or just known as a cross-breed with other species. Cross-breeds often display traits from all the breeds that make up the mix. Cross-breeds can reproduce, as they are just different types of the same species.

A cross-breed is different to what is referred to as a hybrid. A hybrid is cross between different species, as with cross-breeds, hybrids often display both physical and personality traits from both parents species. However, hybrids tend to be infertile (they cannot reproduce their own young) and therefore the only way to get the particular hybrid is to cross the 2 original species. A few hybrid animal examples are:

  • Mule (female donkey x male horse)
  • Hinny (male donkey x female horse)
  • Liger (male lion x tigress)
  • Tigon (lioness x male tiger)
  • Leopon (lion x leopard)
  • Beefalo (buffalo x domestic cow)
  • Dzo (yak x domestic cow)
  • Cama (camel x llama)
  • Zorse (zebra x horse)
  • Donkra (zebra x donkey)

Tigon
Tigon (lioness x male tiger)

Cross-Breed Dogs

It is important to think about this when acquiring a cross-breed as a pet; if the mix of breeds is known, you can research into them to see the likely physical characteristics, as well as the likely personality traits you may see in your pet.

Cross-breeds are becoming increasingly popular with dogs, and cross-bred dogs are being sold as designer breeds. Some of the more popular designer dog breeds are:

  • Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle)
  • Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle)
  • Chorkie (Chihuahua x Yorkshire Terrier)
  • Puggle (Pug x Beagle)

As you may have noticed, these  deisgner  breeds have been given their own, new name that combines the 2 breeds they have been crossed with.

Chihuahua x Yorkie
Chihuahua x Yorkie

Due to the fact that cross-breeds have ability to reproduce, there is dispute about designer breeds and what makes them up. Take the Labradoodle for example, most breeders will only accept a dog as being a Labradoodle if it is the first generation; i.e. one parent is a Poodle, the other parent is a Labrador. If 2 Labradoodles have offspring, most breeders do not class the puppies as Labradoodles, but rather as mongrels. If one parent is a Labradoodle, and the other is either a Poodle or a Labrador, the offspring is also termed as being mongrels along most breeders of the designer breed.

Labradoodle
Labradoodle

Aside from the designer cross-breeds, most cross-breeds are not recognised as “breeds”, but rather just referred to as crosses. The crosses from just 2 different breeds that are not designer dogs are easily differentiated by the fact they are referred to as cross-breeds, and do not have their own “breed name”.

Often cross-breeds are similar breeds that have been mated, such as the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland Terrier. These are 2 similar looking breeds; similar height, coat, ears, face, as well as having a similar temperament.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (2 breeds crossed)

However, due to the ability to reproduce, cross-breeds become more and more diluted in breed terms and eventually just get termed as a mongrel. A lot of mongrels are so mixed with breeds that a similarity to any one breed is very hard to see, others have a distinct breed that stands out; such as the Alsatian mix and the Tibetan Terrier mix, pictured below.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)

All breeds, including the ones that are now classified as pedigree breeds, have come about from mixing different kinds of canines to get the desired appearance and/ or personality out of the animal that the breeder desired. The Bedlington Terrier for example, is thought to be a mix of; the Rothbury Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Wheaten Terrier,  Otterhound, Poodle and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier… so basically a mongrel with a lot of breeds mixed in! However, nowadays it is its own recognised breed, a pedigree.

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terrier

Other Cross-Breed Animals

Dogs may be the most popular animals to mix breeds, but they are certainly not the only ones! Cats, birds, fish, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, sheep, cows, pigs, horses and ponies can all be cross bred; but some species cross-breeds are more common than others. For example, cross-breed rabbits are fairly common, often due to un-neutered pets having accidental litters!

Cats cross-breed often too, however in one litter there can be a different father for each kitten, so the crosses cannot always be determined and may not be known – unless the cross-breeding was intentional and artificially selected. Cats are usually bred via artificial selection for their pedigree, so in the way we get designer dog breeds, it is not the same with cats. Some cat crosses  can be seen clearly, but most are unsure and just get termed as a moggie.

Cross-breed cat
Cross-breed cat

Just to clarify – the terms horse and pony refers to the height of the same animal. They are measure in hands high (hh) – horses are 14.2hh+, whereas ponies are up to (and including) 14.1hh. Horses and ponies are usually selected for their pedigree too, due to needing pure bloodlines for race and show animals. However, there are a few recognised cross-breeds:

  • Welera (Welsh pony x Arabian horse)
  • National Show Horse (American Saddlebred x Arabian horse)
  • Morab (Morgan x Arabian horse)
  • Appendix Quarter Horse (Quarter horse x Thoroughbred)
  • Quarab (Quarter horse x Arabian horse)
  • Walkaloosa (Tennessee walking horse x Appaloosa)

Cross-breed horse
Cross-breed horse

There is also a mongrel of horses – a mix breed of many breeds that has come to be recognised as a breed, the Pony of the Americas (POA).

Mix breed horse (POA)
Mix breed horse (POA)

A lot of people do not believe birds and fish can be cross bred, however this is just due to the occurrence of this being very low (lower in fish than birds). Birds can cross breed as long as they belong to the same sub-species; for example, 2 of the same type (such as 2 conures, or 2 cockatoos) of parrot can have offspring, 2 of the same type of aviary bird (such as a pair of different finch types) can have offspring, 2 different chicken types can have offspring… And the list goes on. It is just uncommon, but the ability is there.

 So really… they’re all mongrels and moggies and mixed breeds, our pets! But whatever we have, we love them regardless!
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