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Newfoundland Pony Breed Description

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Breed Organization

The Newfoundland Pony Society

Native Country

Other Names

Adult Height
11 - 14.2h

Adult Weight
400 - 800 lbs

General Description

They have a color range from black to brown to bays to roans, chestnuts, and greys, including various shades of dun. They usually have dark legs and manes.

They have a heavy coat which can change color and character seasonally. They have small furry ears and a low set of tail to conserve heat in winter. They have a short back and a height that ranges from 11.0 to 14.2 hands.

Evolution gave them legs that are close together so they can travel narrow woods paths freely.


The ancestors of the Newfoundland Pony arrived with the Island's early settlers from the British Isles. These ancestors were primarily, Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest ponies and to a lesser extent, Welsh Mountain, Galloway (extinct), Highland and Connemara ponies. They were hardy creatures, already well adapted to the harsh climate of the islands of the North Atlantic. Over subsequent centuries, and with little outside influence, the hardiest of these early pony immigrants to Newfoundland interbred and eventually evolved into one common pony type, now recognized as the Newfoundland Pony.

In the past, the Newfoundland Pony was used to plough gardens; haul fishing nets, kelp and wood; gather hay; and provide their families with transportation about the Island. These functions were replaced by modern technology and the pony population plummeted. To protect this special and historic pony, the Newfoundland Government has recognized it as a Heritage Animal. The current Newfoundland Pony population totals less than 400 animals. An ongoing effort on the part of concerned individuals from across Canada has stabilized the population. However, the Newfoundland Pony continues to be identified as a critically endangered species by Rare Breeds Canada.

Today, the Newfoundland Pony is used for riding, driving and light draft work. They make excellent mounts for children and adults, and excel under saddle and in harness.


Perhaps greatest attributes of the Newfoundland Pony are its good temperament, and ability to survive on relatively small amounts of most available grasses and foods. Also it can stand harsh winters in relative comfort mostly due to its thick winter coat.

In 1883 the English Hackney Horse Society was created to preserve and develop the integrity of the Hackney lines. The first annual show was held by the society in 1885 in London. In 1891, the American Hackney Horse Society was formed.

The name "Hackney" comes from the French word Hacquenee derived from the Latin word for horse, equus. The term, brought to England by the Normans in the 11th century, was fully assimilated into the English language by 1303. At that time the term meant a riding horse, as distinguished from the heavier warhorse, and later evolved to the abbreviated "Hack" meaning a riding horse or a hired carriage. The modern Hackney breed took only its name from Medieval times as it is rarely ridden because its conformation and extreme motion make it rough to ride. When crossed with modern Thoroughbreds, however, Hackneys have produced some excellent jumpers.

Since the development of the automobile eliminated the demand for carriage horses for transportation, the most popular use of the Hackney has been in the show ring. Hackneys are shown almost exclusively in harness (singly, in pairs, or in tandem), but they may be shown in hand, (lead by a person on the ground).


In 2011, The Livestock Conservancy (TLC) added the Newfoundland pony to their Conservation Priority List in the "study" category, as it worked to verify the breed's history and population numbers. In 2012, with studies completed, the breed was moved to the "critical" category, meaning that the breed has a global population of less than 2,000 and annual registrations in the US of less than 200.[9] Rare Breeds Canada also considers the breed critically endangered, with fewer than 15 annual registrations of purebred female breeding stock. As of 2008, there were 248 registered ponies of breeding age, out of a total registered population of 361 ponies. The largest populations were in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, with smaller populations in seven other Canadian provinces and the United States. As of 2013, TLC estimates that the widely dispersed breeding population consists of between 200 and 250 ponies.

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