Stowaway Files – Picture on a Pony

Are you like me with an attic or basement full of old photos, collections and mementos (otherwise known as junk) stowed away for safe keeping because you know you’re going to need it, want to look at it, or touch it again?  You just can’t part with it…not yet, maybe never!

I’ve always wanted a pony, and ahh no,  I do not have a pony tucked away in my attic.

vintage-photo-picture-of-child-on-a-ponyBut I did come across a very old photo once, while at an estate sale, of a child pictured on a pony dressed in full western attire.  I was fascinated immediately and purchased it right on the spot.

At the time, I remembered seeing an old photo of my grandfather on a pony in the same type of cowboy get-up.  As time went by I came across various other portraits of cowboy clad children on ponies, although I couldn’t say for sure where I saw them.   I found this whole practice very curious, very curious indeed.

Anyways, I took my pony portrait home and displayed it on a shelf for several years.  Eventually it was taken down and stored in my attic, but the burning question still remained.

Why were there all these vintage photos of children on ponies?  And more so, why were they so often dressed in cowboy attire?

Was it a right to passage for these children, like that of getting your own cell phone is for the kids of today?

Was it a matter of prestige?  “…my child has had his picture taken… on a pony… while in full cowboy attire…from this day forward, he is officially a respectable member of society… “


With a little help from Google, I think I finally have at least a semblance of an answer.

According to, circa 1950’s salesmen would navigate the streets of cities and towns with a pony in tow, enticing the neighborhood children to get their picture taken on a pony, often while dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl.  Children in droves would run home and beg their parents to pay the photographer the going rate for a picture with a pony.  Several people share their pony pictures and stories, here.

I couldn’t find much more of an explanation on this subject without delving deep into research.  So for now, I would have to assume, that for the most part, it was really more of a marketing ploy like you would see at Disney World, if you take your picture with Mickey Mouse.

I have to wonder if there is more to the story though, going further back in time.

Quentin_Roosevelt_Child_1902 Source

This photo is of Quentin Roosevelt (son of President Theodore Roosevelt)  and it was taken circa 1902.

 I think my grandfather’s photo was taken not too long after this one, but way before the 1950’s.

  • Could it be that taking a portrait on a pony became all the rage from this (iconic) photo?
  • Do you think the tradition got it’s beginnings at the circus or perhaps The World’s Fair?
  • Would you display vintage photos of children on ponies?
  • Do you think there is more to the history of why there were so many photos of children on ponies, often dressed in cowboy gear?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

To see a large collection, check out this Children on Ponies board on Pinterest

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope you are having a great weekend! ~ Amy

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12 Responses to Stowaway Files – Picture on a Pony

  1. Bliss March 22, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    I sent a thinking of you card to a friend last week. It was a photo like these only the kid was sitting on a donkey. The outside read, “nothing new around here” and the inside said, “just sitting around on my asss thinking of you”.

  2. Feral Turtle March 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    A very interesting post! Now I have to figure out where I saw a picture like that. I think my sisters in-laws had one.

    • Amy March 23, 2014 at 8:07 am #

      I want to say that I most likely saw a few in a restaurant or two with a decor theme that may have center around neighborhood memories or vintage wild west artifacts, something like that. Thank you, Karen

  3. Mel March 23, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    I spent my teen years on horses so I’m sure there must be a few of me on horses and ponies but I probably wouldn’t display them, just not my thing. However I think a collection of vintage photos would be fun and something different.

    • Amy March 23, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      My sisters and I did, too. One of our favorite movies is Man from Snowy River! I think that was set on an Australian ranch.

  4. Danni@SiloHillFarm March 23, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I was terrified of ponies as a child. Glad that salesmen didn’t come to my town! LOL! What a fun thing to research and collect!

  5. Doreen@househoneys March 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    Very interesting Amy, and I have to admit I’ve wondered the same thing but was too lazy to research it lol. I can always count on you to be my ‘go to’ gal 😉

  6. Sharleen March 25, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    I remember pony rides at picnics and fairs . Now we have camel rides. Our kids would have their photos taken I’m sure. It was such a special thing for them. But unlike the old photos . Out kids just didn’t get dressed up . Except my daughter once got dressed up as a fairy and her photo was take on a computer generated unicorn. ! It’s all just fun . Great post Amy. Thank you. We are loving the old photos / old things nowadays.

  7. Sonya@Beyond the Screen Door March 29, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    This was really interesting. I’ve seen photos like these too and that the ponies were a marketing tool makes so much sense! I’d never thought about that before. And I like your thought that Quentin’s photo may have helped this fad take off!

  8. TucsonPatty April 5, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    What a great research subject. I don’t think any of my siblings did this, but I’ve seen them. I loved looking a the Pinterest board of children on ponies. Too fun.


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