The British Spotted Pony is a small pony breed from England that has been around for centuries. Its spotted fur serving as a way to camouflage among the British countryside. There are cave paintings dating back as far as 18000 BC that clearly show the Spotted Pony. Throughout history, the Spotted Pony was seen as a magical creature and therefore beloved by Royalty and the likes and they were often sent as gifts between the Royal families.
While the Spotted Pony is believed to be native to Great Britain, many ponies were exported to Australia, Canada, United States, Netherlands, Germany and France after World War II. However, breed associations stopped the export in the 1970s when they realized that many of their best animals were lost due to the high demand and that the Spotted Pony was becoming quite rare in England. Nowadays the Spotted Pony is a rare breed with only about 800 ponies registered as British Spotted Ponies. It is likely that there are more British Spotted Ponies but as some of them are born without spots, they aren’t always recognized as what they are.
While the breed is known for its unusually spotted coat, the spotting is not enough to make a pony a member of this breed. Here are a few characteristics of which the pony must display some or all of in order to be classified as a British Spotted Pony:
The British Spotted breed doesn’t have one distinctive coloration, but many: The “Leopard” coloration appears as spots of any color on a white or light background, while the “Near Leopard” has a darker head, neck and legs in addition to spots like the “Leopard”. Then there is also the “Few Spot Leopard”, which only has a few spots on a white background. In contrast to the Leopard colorations, there is also the “Snowflake” which has white spots on a dark base coat. Some spotted ponies that were bred from spotted parents do not inherit their parents spotted coat.
Apart from the coat there are a few other characteristics: they often have a white sclera around the eye (most horses or ponies have a dark sclera that matches the color of the iris). They also have pink, mottled skin around the eyes, the muzzle and the ears as well as striped hooves.
The pony’s head and ears are well proportioned with an equally proportioned, strong neck. The legs are straight, with the hindquarters being more muscled and the front legs having flat legs. In order for the animal to be a British Spotted pony rather than an Appaloosa (spotted horse), it must be no taller than 14.2 hands. Its character is often described as endearing and versatile with a wonderful temperament.