About German Riding Pony Horses
German Riding Ponies (or Deutsche Reitpony) is a very
popular pony breed from Germany. They are described as a "miniature
warmblood" with refined, horse-like characteristics that make them
suitable as both a children's pony and as a mount for sport horse competitions.
German Riding Ponies have a phenotype very similar to that
of a full-sized horse. Only their head is pony-like, giving the appearance of
having a pleasant manner and friendly disposition. They are bred to be handled
by children and adolescents. They are suited for both dressage and jumping.
Their development began around 1965, with a crossbreeding of
various English pony breeds, especially Welsh ponies, on Arabians,
Anglo-Arabians, and Thoroughbreds. The goal was to breed competition-quality
ponies for children to ride in sport horse competitions, more easily
controllable by children than the typical large Warmblood horses used by
adults, while also keeping some Pony characteristics, including character, type
and willingness to perform.
Initially, Thoroughbred and Arabian stallions were crossed
on pony-sized Fjords and Haflingers. These cross-breeding attempts to produce a
sport pony in one generation did not lead to the desired type. After British
pony breeds, primarily Welsh ponies were imported and added to the bloodline,
by 1975 a distinct German riding pony type developed. In the 1990's attempts
were made to further improve the breed through the infusion of Trakehner,
Hanoverian, and Holsteiner blood, but this infusion was unsuccessful: the pony
type and qualities were often lost. Today's German Riding Pony breeders use
specific bloodlines to reliably create German Riding Ponies that fulfill the
goal of a pony type who competes with the athleticism of a small warmblood.
Pony sport horse competitions or "tournaments" are
popular in continental Europe, and ponies are shown by children and adolescents
up to 16 years of age in the disciplines of dressage, show jumping, and
eventing. Major tournaments for pony riders include the German Youth
Championships, the European Championships and the "Preis der Besten,"
a team competition, which will be in dressage, with the International Dressage
tests of the FEI ridden, for preparatory examination, team and individual scoring.
This competition is very popular and both contestants and coaches vie for spots
on the respective participating teams.
The German Riding Pony breed is relatively new to the United
States, with a few imports and a single breed registry authorized to conduct
inspections for breeding stock.