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Hackney Pony Breed Profile 

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Elegance doesn’t get better than the Hackney pony breed.

Whether you are looking for a pony to show in rings professionally, to ride, or keep as a pet, you can never go wrong with the Hackney pony.

The best part is that Hackney ponies are sociable, making them great companions that you will love having around.

Read on for a closer look at what these ponies have to offer. 

Bay hackney pony running free

The History of the Hackney Pony 

Wrapping your head around the Hackney horse and Hackney pony can be confusing, especially as a beginner in the horse world. 

Hackney ponies are related to Hackney horses, and both belong to the larger Hackney horse breed. 

So much so that the Hackney pony breed doesn’t have breeding studs because they are usually the same as those of the Hackney horse.

The Hackney pony’s history dates back to 1872 when Christopher Wilson crossed a Hackney stud — Sir George — with Fell and Welsh pony mares to develop a true pony breed within the larger Hackney horse breed.  

The result was a pony with Hackney horse characteristics — such as long trots, speed, and agility — but in a smaller, more compact package best suited for shows and carriage pulling.

Hackney ponies are also beautiful and have a personality ideal for children. 

In the beginning, these ponies were referred to as Wilson ponies. 

Due to the tough conditions the breed was exposed to during its development, the ponies developed remarkable resilience, hence the ability to adapt to harsh conditions.  

The Hackney pony breed was finally established in the 1880s and was particularly renowned for its poise and trotting ability. 

From the 19th century through the early 20th century, the ponies were renowned elegant carriage horses throughout Great Britain and the United States. 

This was, however, followed by a decline in popularity in the late 20th century, with the increased use of automobiles as means of transport. 

The end of the Second World War returned the glory to the Hackney ponies when they became show ponies. 

mother and daughter hackney ponies enjoying a snowy day in Canada

The Characteristics of the Hackney Pony 

Hackney Pony Conformation

Hackney ponies are not and should not be sized-down versions of the Hackney horse.

They have true pony characteristics including small, high pony heads with intelligent eyes and alert ears. 

Like their heads, their muscular necks are elegantly arched and carried. While their bones are often fine, Hackney ponies have light frames, low withers, and compact backs held up by their powerful shoulders. 

Like their heads and necks, Hackney pony tails are also carried high. 

You will also notice that their feet are quite hard, with long toes to reinforce the pony’s action or trot, which is more pronounced than the Hackney horses. 

With the knees going as far up the legs as possible and hocks coming under the body, the pony’s park trot is not only fluid but also energetic and amazing to watch. 

Hackney Pony Size 

As far as height goes, Hackney ponies stand between 11 and 14 hands. They generally should not exceed 14 hands, and they weigh about 600 pounds

Hackney Pony Colors

bay hackney pony running in paddocks

Hackney ponies have silky and fine coats that are chestnut, bay, or black, with the bay being the most common. Black is a close second.

Chestnut coats are extremely rare. 

What’s more, Hackney ponies may have white markings on their bodies, legs, and heads. Lastly, chestnut-coated ponies usually have flaxen tails and manes — that is, the tails and manes are lighter than the body coat. 

Hackney Pony Temperament 

Hackney ponies have such desirable personalities to match their elegant looks.

In addition to their fearless and tenacious nature, Hackenys are friendly, smart, and calm.  

They are also spirited, alert, energetic, and love to stay active, thanks to their exceptional stamina. These traits, coupled with the fact that they love attention, make them ideal pets as well as for show rings.  

That being said, the breed startles easily and should therefore be handled with care, especially when around children and adults alike. 

All in all, Hackney ponies are friendly toward humans and are happy to be the center of attention.

They make great pets if you are willing to give them all the attention they want.    

Hackney Pony Lifespan 

There is no record of exactly how long Hackney ponies live. 

However, since they are related to the Hackney horse, which has a lifespan of 30 years, it is safe to say that Hackney ponies can live up to 30 years with proper care and love. 

Hackney Pony Uses 

Hackney ponies may still be used for carriage driving in regions or countries where carriages are still used as a means of transport. But the breed is popularly known today as a show breed. 

As show ponies, they are classified based on show ring performance and size. These include:

  • The Pleasure pony
  • The Hand pony 
  • The Roadster pony
  • The Cobtail pony 
  • The Harness pony

Besides showing, Hackney ponies are also excellent pets, as we have already mentioned, thanks to their friendly, calm, and sociable personalities. 

Hackneys are also used to influence breeds in the U.S., like the American Shetland pony, for refinement and quality. 

This includes refining the miniature horses’ action.

Caring for the Hackney Pony 

Diet and Nutrition 

Most, if not all, Hackney ponies prefer the conventional horse diet of hay and grass. 

That being said, be keen to maintain a balanced ration of hay and grass.

What’s more, offer feed concentrates to supplement the grass diet and make up for any nutritional deficiencies.  

Also, follow through with dietary adjustments to suit your Hackney pony’s competition or work requirements. This will help maintain optimum weight while providing the required energy.   


As previously established, Hackney ponies love attention.

Grooming sessions are great opportunities to bond with your pony. 

Luckily, as exotic as ponies sound, you do not need anything special to keep your Hackney pony looking healthy and sharp. 

The regular grooming routine you use on other horses in your herd will also suffice for Hackney ponies. 

Essentially, you only need a standard horse grooming kit and an established grooming routine and your pony will love it. 

A curry comb will help you remove debris and loose hair from pony coats, especially when used in circular motions. 

A body finishing brush follows the curry comb well, especially on sensitive spots like the legs. Then you can go in with a dandy brush and shedding blade to get rid of any remaining debris and hair.  

Next, you can move in with a soft damp towel or cloth to clean your Hackney pony’s face, including the areas around its eyes and ears. This should be after you have brushed it using a face brush. 

Similarly, use a mane comb and tail comb to comb and keep the mane and tail tangle free and lustrous.

Use a hoof pick to clean your pony’s hooves daily to keep them in good shape. 

Lastly, after you are done with all the brushing, you can choose to bathe your pony with a gentle horse-friendly shampoo. 

Keep in mind that grooming sessions offer you a chance to examine your pony’s body for injuries and signs of illness. 

While shoes may not be necessary for ponies — since they are pleasure and show horses — be keen to regularly trim their hooves, ideally every 6 to 8 weeks. 

Purebred hackney pony in the snow checking out the camera

Hackney Pony Common Health Issues

Hackney ponies are quite a healthy horse breed that is not prone to any genetic health conditions. 

That being said, it is crucial to ensure that your pony is up-to-date with deworming, vaccinations, and other pest and disease control measures. 

Also, their high-stepping action during training and driving can cause arthritis, stiffness, and joint pain. 

Offer your pony therapies, supplements, and massages for joint and bone support.

Hackney Pony Interesting Facts

Hackney Cobtail ponies are displayed with tightly braided manes and shortly trimmed or docked tails.

Hackney Roadsters are also shown hitched to four-wheel wagons in addition to bikes. This wagon class was first seen in the World’s Championship Horse Show in 2006.

Final Thoughts 

There you have it! If you have been dreaming of owning a pony, the Hackney pony might just be the right pony for you. Its docile, friendly temperament and active nature make it the perfect pet.

On the other hand, Hackney ponies are a great choice for the show ring if you are interested in trying out showing professionally.