Ponies have gotten a bad rap. Half the population of adults in this country either had, or knew someone who had, a nasty little pony. A pony that would bite, buck, scrape off riders on fences, barn doors, or tree branches, assuming the pony could be caught in the first place. This pony was usually kept in a back yard, maybe had a stall in a shed, maybe was tethered on a rope. This pony had no training and very little proper handling, care, or feeding yet was expected to pull a cart and go riding. The pony survived on grass, bread, corn stalks, apples, carrots, birdseed, cereal or whatever anyone thought to feed it. From this pony, people formed an opinion of ponies in general. And it wasn't a good one.
The general population of ponies are, if not rainbow colored like a popular toy may lead one to believe, cute and fluffy. Even the ones that aren't cute, are homely enough to be so. They have little ears, long hair, big eyes and they are pint-sized. There is a society of show ponies that are pampered, groomed within an inch of their lives, and are more well-trained than secret agents. These are not the ponies you find in the first paragraph. They are a different species. Also a different genus, are the ponies that are actually small horses. Technically, a pony is an equine under 14.2 hands high (58"). There are some large ponies that are really just small horses and are regarded as such.
The first paragraph ponies are the Rodney Dangerfields of the horse world. They get no respect. Due to their size, they don't get structured training. The people small enough to ride them, are the ones who haven't had much training themselves, therefore being inexperienced and not qualified to teach a pony the path it should take in life and not balanced or strong enough to be delicate riders. These ponies are hardy and self-sufficient which allows them to survive in less than ideal situations but also lends them to the idea that they need to fend for themselves. It's akin to a naughty child who hasn't had a structured home life or good parenting. Can we blame that child for not knowing how to be a good citizen? No. Can we blame a pony for figuring out that a child's head is right about level with the clothesline when seated on said pony?
People will say that ponies are bad-tempered and conniving. I think they're just clever and not about to put up with any baloney. Ponies are like MacGyver. They're crafty. They don't know that they are little and cute. They think they are big and spectacular. There are two reasons ponies are disagreeable, one is the lack of formal training, the other is that they are too smart. Ponies know that they don't have to do a darn thing they're told to do. Unless there is food involved. The quickest route to a pony's brain is through its stomach. One of my students did a science project on "Things My Pony Will Eat". The list was long.
All ponies can be devoted, willing partners as long as they trust and have respect for their human sidekicks. One misstep though, and it's the clothesline for you, buddy.