Conformation Traits to Look for in a Pony

Whether it’s for a birthday, holiday, or just to add some extra love to the family, bringing a pony into the fold can be both an exciting and a daunting task. Ponies for sale come from a variety of backgrounds, training, and genetics, making the correct choice an important one to consider. When judging the conformation of a pony for sale you must take into account breed characteristics, muscling, balance, and type characteristics.


There are many types of horses for sale. The type of pony you want to seek out depends on the functions the pony will be expected to perform. Saddle ponies should have a fairly short back that is not deeply swayed, and the ribs should be wide and well-sprung. Front and rear quarters should be well muscled, and the pony’s legs should be clean and free from bumps and blemishes. If you’re not sure what to look for, do some research on the pony breed so you’ll have a clear image of that breed’s conformation before viewing your particular candidate. Look for withers that are prominent, but not too sharp. Flat withers do not hold a saddle, whereas those that are too prominent can cause a saddle to slip backwards away from a proper fit.


The action of a pony is affected by the way its legs and feet are set. A pony that is splay-footed or pigeon-toed will show signs of misalignment in their gait. Look for ponies that have well-aligned feet and legs that neither point in or out.

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Ponies can have multiple gait issues, such as cross-firing (when diagonal fore and hind feet scuff each other during movement), dwelling (where there is a pause in the flight of the foot), and forging (where the rear hoof hits the heel of the front foot) to name a few.

Unsoundness or Blemishes

It’s important to be able to assess when a pony is unsound. Blemishes are a matter of personal preference. If your pony will be judged on conformation, blemishes can detract from the appearance of a pony. Unsoundness detracts from the pony’s serviceability. Look for lameness, swelling, splints or unusual bony protrusions, and also any lameness or unevenness in the pony’s gait. Some unsoundness can be a cause of mistreatment or malnutrition, which can surface in negative ways after purchase, so be sure to also question the owner thoroughly about the pony’s background to ensure it’s a good fit and worth the price.

Ponies can be a great addition and provide years of fun to a family or individual. Knowing how to make the best choice up-front can save time and effort later and ensure you find a perfect fit.

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