- HEIGHT: 13.2–14.2 hands
- PLACE OF ORIGIN: Georgia
- SPECIAL QUALITIES: A gaited pony breed of great beauty, versatility, and athleticism; some individuals can perform seven gaits
- BEST SUITED FOR: Pleasure, harness, jumping, and trail
Lifelong horsewoman Joan Hudson Brown, of Macon, Georgia, set about developing a breed of large, attractive, smooth-gaited ponies in 1956. She began by crossing Welsh Ponies and Tennessee Walking Horses. The Welsh bloodlines contributed a lovely head and long, arched neck, while the Walking Horse lines produced the desired smooth gaits. Twelve years later she reached her first major goal when she produced what she felt was an ideal pony, BT Golden Splendor, a palomino colt with lovely gaits; a long, flowing mane and tail; and a high tail carriage. The embodiment of the perfect pony she had long been trying to produce, he became the foundation sire for the breed. Brown founded the American Walking Pony Registry in the fall of 1968.
Walking Ponies are shown under saddle and in both pleasure and fine harness driving. They also have considerable jumping ability and are highly successful at open shows in the pony hunter division. An American Walking Pony was national champion in competitive trail at a time when there were only 175 ponies in the breed. These ponies make ideal trail and pleasure mounts for children and small adults.
The American Walking Pony is a versatile, smooth-gaited pony with excellent jumping ability.
Owners have such a good time riding their animals that surprisingly few are used for breeding. The association encourages any breeder interested in producing top-quality animals to join its ranks.
The natural gaits of the American Walking Pony are the walk, pleasure walk, merry walk, trot, and canter. Some individuals also perform the slow gait and the rack, making them seven-gaited.
BREED ASSOCIATION FACTS AND FIGURES
According to Joan Hudson Brown, of the American Walking Pony Registry (founded in 1968):
- There are about 400 ponies in the breed.
- Ten to 15 new foals are registered each year.
- The ponies are most common in Georgia, California, Washington, and Canada.
The light and flowing gaits of the American Walking Pony are inherited and unique. They are the walk, pleasure walk, merry walk, trot, and canter. The pleasure walk is a slow, easy, four-beat gait, a little bit faster than a regular walk. In this gait, Walking Ponies move their head slightly in rhythm with the gait. The merry walk is a faster, yet still smooth, four-beat gait with a little bit more head motion. American Walking Ponies also trot. And, like the great foundation sire of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Roan Allen, some of these ponies can perform the slow gait and the rack. It is thus possible to have a pony that is actually seven-gaited.
Correct conformation is strongly stressed by both the association and breeders, who desire a sound, well-made pony, not just an animal that can perform the gaits. The American Walking Pony is a large pony, usually 13.2 to 14.2 hands.
It has a small, neatly chiseled head. Its bold eyes, set well apart, often show white sclera. The ears are pointed and well shaped; the neck is long, arched, and well muscled. The neck may be slightly cresty in stallions but leaner in mares and is carried high and connected well back into moderately high withers. The shoulders are long and sloping. The ribs are well sprung, with a deep heart girth and wide chest. A short back connects to a croup that is moderate in slope and length, with muscular hips.
The front legs must be straight, but the hocks may turn in slightly. The pasterns should have medium length and slope.
All solid colors and pintos are eligible for registration. Appaloosa coloring is not allowed.