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Pony of the Americas Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Pony of the Americas Club

Native Country
United States of America

Other Names

Adult Height
11.2 to 14h

Adult Weight

General Description

Pony of the Americas should show style and substance, beauty and symmetry, being a balanced individual regardless of size and correct in all aspects of conformation, exhibiting approved color patterns and characteristics. The POA is between 46 and 56 inches in height at maturity. The symmetrical and smooth head is clean cut and slightly dished, showing mottled skin about the nostrils and lips; forehead is wide; sclera of eyes is white, adding distinctiveness to head appearance. The neck shows quality with clean cut throat latch and large windpipe; chest is deep and blends into well-muscled sloping shoulders; withers are prominent and well-defined; forearm is well muscled, long, wide and tapered down to a broad knee; cannons are short, wide and flat with wide, smooth and strongly supported fetlocks; pastern is medium long and sloping; hooves are striped, rounded, deep, open and wide at heels; back is short and straight; loin is short and wide; underline is long with the flank well let down; hips are smoothly covered, being long, sloping and muscular; thighs are long, muscular and deep, blending into well-rounded quarters; gaskins are long, wide and muscular, extending to clean, clearly defined, wide, straight hocks.

Quality of a POA: Quality refers to substance, style and refinement. The ponies should be well proportioned, the skin soft and pliable, in good health and flesh (not too fat or too thin), with the overall appearance of refinement, style, beauty and substance.

Head and Neck: Showing style and character, the neck should be slightly arched and clean cut, with a distinctly defined throat latch. The head should be proportionate in size to the body, with clean cut features. The eyes should be large, kind and prominent. The ears should be medium in size, pointedly alert and well carried.

Hindquarters: The croup should be long, level and muscular; the quarters and gaskins, deep and muscular. The hocks should be clean cut and well supporting.

Body: The body should be round, full ribbed, heavily muscled, with well-sprung ribs; back and loin short, wide and well muscled, with a long underline.Feet and Legs: The feet should be proportionate to the size of the pony, of good shape, wide and deep at the heels. The legs should be in correct position front, side and rear view; the pasterns a medium 45 degree angle. The cannons should be lean and flat; the knees broad, tapering gradually into cannon. The arm and forearm should show muscle; the chest should be fairly wide, deep and full. The shoulders should be deep and well laid in, sloping 45 degrees. The withers should be prominent with good saddle base. The legs should be set squarely under the body, straight and true at each comer so that the animal is well-balanced and travels easily. The hocks should be clean-cut, and well supporting. Cannons should be lean and flat; knees broad, tapering gradually into cannon. The ankles should be firm, the sloping pasterns medium length and the fetlocks clean of excess hair.

Chest: The chest should be fairly wide, deep and full; shoulders deep and well laid in, sloping 45 degrees. The withers should be prominent with good saddle base.

Gaits of a POA: This refers to a way of going. Walk - straight with long, easy stride, true and flat footed. The western jog trot should be soft, relaxed, and quiet with a definite two beat gait. At no time should it resemble a running walk nor should it be rough or stilted. The speed and stride should be compatible with the pony size. The English trot should be a free-moving, ground covering stride, executed in a long, low frame. Excessive knee or hock action is at no time desirable. Quick, short strides should be penalized. The lope or canter should be rolling and comfortable with b emphasis on a natural three beat, soft lope. A four beat lope is at no time desirable and should be penalized.


In 1954, Les Boomhower was a Shetland pony breeder and a lawyer with his own practice in Mason City, Iowa. A neighbor offered Les an Arab/Appaloosa mare who had accidentally been bred to a Shetland stallion. She was due to foal that spring. Les waited until the foal was born before he bought the mare. The little colt born of this union was white with what looked like black paint smears all over his body.

What intrigued Les the most were the spots on the colt's flank that formed a definite black hand. Another idea was forming in Les' mind as he watched the colt he named Black Hand. He called his Shetland breeder friends to his Memory Lane Ranch to discuss his idea, and the Pony Of the Americas Club was born. Les' expertise in the law set up a solid foundation for this new breed registry.

The standards Les and his friends set up were a real challenge to any breeder. To be registered as a POA, strict guidelines were followed. The pony had to be between the height limits of 44 inches to 52 inches. The head was to be small and dished as the Arab; the body was to be muscled as the Quarter Horse; and the coloring had to be Appaloosa, visible at 40 feet. This was to be a breed for children to ride and show. Adults could only show the animals at halter or with a cart. So these equines must also be gentle and easy to train.

From the original national POA Club came state clubs, state shows, regional shows and sales, a world class international show and sale and a world championship show. The registry went from Black Hand POA #1 in 1954 to 1996's registry of over 40,000. The height limit of the breed increased to 46 inches and 54 inches in 1963. It was about this time the Shetland began to disappear from the POA breeding program. Larger ponies like the Welsh and small horses like the wild mustang and the Arab were combined with Indian ponies, Quarter Horses and Appaloosas by the breeders to achieve that "little horse" look. The membership voted in 1985 to again raise the upper height limit to 56 inches beginning in 1986. The age limit of a child showing went from age 16 in 1954 to 18 in 1973. In 1987, 19 and over riding classes were added with a limitation for the POAs under saddle to be only 2, 3, and 4 year olds in training. In 1988, the first national POA Convention was held. In 1990, a Hall of Fame for POAs and POA members was begun.

Besides the usual high point standings, the breed added Register of Merit Awards for halter, performance and gaming. A POA earning all three receives the highest of all awards, Supreme Champion. The first Supreme Champion mare was GR's Siri Raindrop. The first Supreme Champion stallion was Chief Little Britches and the first Supreme Champion gelding was Cindy's Fury. Breeders whose POAs receive a number of these outstanding awards can earn Bronze, Silver, Golden, and Diamond Premier Breeder Awards. A mare and stallion can earn Premier and Golden Premier status when a number of their offspring have achieved Supreme Champion. Futurities also offer monetary and prestige rewards for the breeders.

These gentle child-size equines can give a boy or girl confidence and responsibility which will serve in later life. The POA motto is "Try hard, win humbly, lose gracefully and, if you must ... protest with dignity." This perhaps more than anything else, sets POA exhibitors apart from others in the world of horse show competition. Boys and girls cheer for each other even though they are competing against each other. Deep friendships are made that last entire lifetimes for both parents and children from coast to coast. POAs are perfect for trail and endurance riding, ranch work and hunting. The gentle disposition, durability and intelligence of the breed serves it well.


Good manners are demonstrated by the pony's obedience to all commands and includes the ability to stand quietly, back readily, walk, jog, lope or stop as requested and, in general, guided by a light mouth. Pulling on bit, head tossing, breaking stride, traveling in a sideways motion and wringing the tail are objectionable.

Presence refers to animation, self-assurance, alertness and personality that stem from good breeding, good grooming, good care, good training, and good handling. Evidence of being a "professional" in its line is also present, in that the pony senses what is required and readily expends the effort necessary to obey the demands of its rider, driver, or handler.


Although originally developed mainly for Western riding and stock uses, it has also been seen competing in endurance riding, three-day eventing, show hunter, and driving. It jumps well, and can be used for dressage. Originally, breed club shows did not allow people over the age of 16 to show POAs under saddle; adults could, however, show them in halter or driving classes. In 1973, the age limit for riders was raised to 18, and in 1987 it was decided that adults 19 and over could show horses two to four years old under saddle.


Similar to the Appaloosa, Pony of the Americas can be afflicted by congenital stationary night blindness (CSNB) which causes them to have virtually no night vision. The disease is thought to be caused by the LP gene that creates certain Appaloosa-like coat patterns. Any pony that is homozygous for the LP gene can be afflicted. The disease is present at birth and is non-progressive. Clinical signs are confusion, spookiness, and reluctance to move in places with low lighting. The only way to test for CSNB is to have a veterinary ophthalmologist perform an ERG (electroretinogram) vision test.

POAs can also be more prone to equine recurrent uveitis than other breeds. This is an immune inflammatory response of the uveal tract of the eye. Clinical signs are puffy, watery eyes, red blood vessels on the sides of the eye and lids, and squinting. It can cause damage to the retina if it goes untreated.

The pink skin that is exposed on a POA, especially on the muzzle, is susceptible to sunburn so applying sun block to these areas is advisable.

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