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Use and characteristics of the German Riding Pony
Known in Germany as the Deutsche Reitpony, the breed’s conformation is very much that of a miniature horse. Their elastic paces and correct movement also reflect those of full-size warmbloods. However, breeders who sell a German Riding Pony confirm that they certainly retain some pony qualities such as being great characters and bonding willingly with their riders. Although breed standards vary between different countries, the majority of German Riding Ponies are between 13.2 hands (54 inches/137 cm) and 14.2 hands (58 inches/147 cm). It is possible to buy a German Riding Pony that is taller and there is a great deal of interest in these “oversize” ponies, as they are suitable for small adults too.
Origin and history of breeding German Riding Ponies
After initial experiments using Fjords and Haflingers crossed with Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs did not produce the right pony type for competition, a different approach was needed. In the mid-1960s, foundation stock was selected from various pony breeds, many of them British, including Welsh Section B, New Forest and Connemara, as well as the German Dülmen. By the mid-1970s, a pony of distinctive type had emerged that had the desired qualities and athleticism. The ponies were spirited and intelligent but also capable of being confidently ridden by young riders. Further breeding experiments with German warmbloods such as the Hanoverian, Holsteiner and Trakehner meant that some of the desirable pony qualities were at risk of being lost. Focussing on selected bloodlines and rigorous standards mean that the German Riding Pony now maintains the original requirements of a miniature warmblood that still has the appeal of the pony. Performance testing in Germany encourages breeders to produce to the highest standards. These are recognised by various titles such as State Premium Mare. In order to be registered in the studbook. stallions must successfully complete a performance test of thirty days. The Weser-Ems registry in Germany, which is affiliated with the Oldenburg register, now registers the ponies in Germany. This organisation is also recognised in the USA, as are ponies inspected by the Hanover and Rheinlander Pflalz-Sarr registries. Welsh and Arabian crosses are also still taking place. The most important event for German Riding Pony breeding stock is the Bundeschampionat, a national competition for leading stallions and mares that compete under saddle.
German Riding Ponies in equestrianism
These popular riding ponies also make good harness ponies. In Europe, they are a highly rated choice for pony sport horse competitions, which are also known as "tournaments". These are competitive events for young people up to the age of 16, including dressage events of FEI standard. Because German Riding Ponies have been specially bred to be handled by children and adolescents, their natures help young riders gain confidence while progressing competitively.