Authored By Staff Writer (Updated: 3/2/2011): The Steppe Pony was an ideal choice of war horse for the roaming bands of warriors found through Asia and Europe following the demise of the Roman Empire. Born from the steppes, the steppe pony's design attributed to its successes on the battlefield by offering up a complete package that complimented the riding styles and warfare of its operators.
Steppe ponies were deceptive in that they appeared with short legs, with bodies built close to the ground. Standing, on average, about 13 hands tall, the pony was ideal for use in darting quick distances and could turn on a dime, affording the marauding horse archer the ultimate platform in the way of harassing or chasing down one's enemy.
Steppe ponies were also highly adaptable to most environments. As grass was their primary food source, feeding across the continent was not an issue. Their natural heavy coats allowed for them to stay cool in the summers and brave the worst of the winters. Additionally, their low center of gravity offered up unprecedented control and speed over short distances. Their resilience also extended to their ability to quickly and instinctively recover from a fall by rolling back up to a stand.
Drawbacks of the use of steppe ponies lay in their lack of stamina. Remounts would have to be a part of any roaming force so recently used ponies could receive breaks from having undergone previous battles. It was not uncommon to see large groups of men and even larger groups of ponies marching or herding across borders in search of the next plunder.