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First Posted: July 13, 2009
Sep 26, 2010

Pony of the Americas, or the POA

Pony of the Americas or POA


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Country of Origin:United States

The Pony of the Americas, or the POA, was developed to be a children's mount. The breed's origins are in America, where an Iowa breeder accidentally crossed a Shetland stallion with an Arabian/Appaloosa (Araloosa) mare to produce a pony-sized mount with a stunning hand-shaped Appaloosa marking.

Breed Characteristics

The POA was originally developed for small riders in need of a mount larger than a small pony, but not the size of a full-fledged horse. The breed standard originally had the height requirement between 11 and 13 hands (44 to 52 inches (112 to 132 cm). However, since that time the height range has been changed to 11.2-14.0 hands (46 to 56 inches (117 to 142 cm).

The head has large, expressive eyes with a small, refined, and sometimes has a "dished" face similar to an Arabian. The body is more like a stock horse, with plenty of muscling like a Quarter Horse, with a broad chest, round belly, sloping shoulders, and powerful hindquarters. The pony should have free-flowing movement, and the tail is never carried high. Today's POAs have the desirable movement of a forward-moving Quarter or Appaloosa horse. Troping and "peanut rolling" are discouraged. A level head set, smooth, slow movement and true gaits are desired.

Note: A term used for a horse that lopes or canters to a 4-beat gait instead of a 3-beat gait. It is very uncomfortable to ride. Another term for the same thing is troping. "The sport of western pleasure has been criticized on account of an extremely low head position many judges were favoring in the stock horse breeds, known as the 'peanut roller'. In this head set, horses carry their heads with the poll far below the level of their withers. This is a problem because it also forced the horse to travel at an extremely slow pace on the 'forehand' (carrying too much weight on their front legs instead of rocking it correctly back onto their hind legs). Over long periods of time, moving in this highly artificial frame can cause soundness problems in some horses, and even a sound horse cannot properly bring its hindquarters under its body when traveling forward. This fad and its problems created a poor view of the discipline as a whole, especially by competitors in other equestrian sports." Western Pleasure

The coloring of the pony must be the markings of an Appaloosa, and visible from a distance of 40 feet (12 m). This includes the spotted coat in any Appaloosa pattern and the white sclera, mottled skin around the eye, muzzle, and genitals, as well as striped hooves.

History of the POA

The POA first was developed in 1954, when Leslie Boomhower, an Iowa breeder of Shetland Ponies, founded the breed. A friend offered him an Arabian/Appaloosa mare that had been accidentally bred to a Shetland Pony stallion. Boomhower accepted the offer after the foal, a colt, was born. The Appaloosa-marked colt was named Black Hand, and he became the foundation sire for the breed.

Other breeds, including the American Quarter Horse, Welsh Pony, Thoroughbred, Mustang and Arabian have been used to infuse athleticism, stamina, and size.

Today there are almost 50,000 registered POAs in the United States. The ponies are presently being bred to have less Shetland Pony blood, with breeders striving for conformation that resembles a small horse more than a pony.

For More Information:

Horsemen Magazine - "Pony of the Americas."
Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock
Pony of the Americas Club


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