Bred in Great Britain as a flashy driving pony, this breed?s refined appearance and exaggerated high-stepping action make it a show ring star. A man named Christopher Wilson purposely developed the Hackney Pony (originally known as the Wilson Pony) in the 1800s by crossing speedy, stylish roadster-type horses with Fell and Welsh Ponies.
The Hackey Pony resembles his larger relative, the Hackney horse, but with more typical pony characteristics. The Hackney Pony?s head is short from ears to muzzle and broad between the eyes, with small, alert ears. The high-set neck is long and arched, and the body is slim, graceful, and athletic. The Hackney Pony?s legs are long and he is able to step very high, raising his knees up toward his nose. The tail is set and carried high, and the hooves are grown long to enhance his fancy step.
Hackney Pony height typically ranges from 12 to 14.2 hands. Bays are the most common color, but the breed is also brown, black, and chestnut (the chestnuts usually have lighter-colored manes and tails, known as ?flaxen? manes and tails). White markings are common on faces and legs, and may even appear on the body.
Road improvements in the mid-1800s allowed travel by lighter, faster horses, and driving a Hackney Pony was highly fashionable before automobiles took over. With transportation by horse disappearing, it was only the breed?s qualities as a show pony that saved it from disappearing, too.
Today Hackney Ponies are bred for the show ring, and compete most often in harness, though some compete in hand or under saddle. Show divisions for Hackney Ponies include harness pony, cob tail pony, roadster, and pleasure driving. Depending on the show division, their tails will be left full and long, or docked short, and their manes will be left loose and flowing or braided up tight.