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The foundation stallion of the Pony of the Americas (POA ) breed is Black Hand, also known as Black Hand #1 because he became the first POA registered. Black Handâ€™s sire was a Shetland pony and his dam was a cross between and Arabian and a Quarter Horse. The mating was accidental. The mareâ€™s owner sold her while she was pregnant to Shetland pony breeder and attorney Les Boomhower of Iowa.
Black Hand was named for a distinctive hand-like formation of spots on his hip. The foal grew to resemble a small Appaloosa horse rather than a blocky pony. Black Hand also had a good temperament and was very athletic. He became in demand around Iowa as a sire for older childrenâ€™s ponies. Boomhower started the Pony of the Americas Club in 1954 with fellow Shetland pony breeders.
Other breeds were added to the mix to create a breed of Black Hands. These breeds included Arabians, small Quarter Horses, Welsh ponies, small but horse-like Indian ponies bred by Native American tribes and mustangs. One mustang in particular who influenced the breed was Dragon or Dragon #103, caught leading a band of mustangs in Mexico in 1957. Despite being a fully mature wild stallion, he eventually was trained to ride and compete with children on his back.