Pony Express

What does pony express mean?

The original Pony Express doesn’t exist any more, but the phrase is still used.

The Pony Express was an American express (fast) mail delivery service, using horse riders, instead of stagecoaches. 

The service was used for 18 months in 1860 and 1861 between the east and west coast of America. It was fast, reducing the delivery time from months down to 10 days. The fastest delivery from to Fort Kearny in Nebraska to California was only 7 days and 17 hours. 

Highland Pony

The Pony Express service, operated by the Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Compay, employed 6,000 men and 400 horses. There were 186 Pony Express stations along the route, where the express rider would change to a fresh horse. The average distance between stations was 24 kilometres (15 miles) for each horse.

To make sure the horse could run fast, the express riders had to weigh less than 57 kilograms (125 pounds). They rode day and night, and they were paid $125 a month. 

The horses were mostly ponies (small horses), because they were, on average, 147 centimetres (58 inches) tall – or 14.2 hands – and 410 kilograms (900 pounds) in weight. Today, the definition of ‘pony’ (Equus ferus caballus) is a mature horse beteen 142-150 centimetres (56-59 inches) tall.  

In October 1861, the transcontinental telegraph replaced the Pony Express.

If people say that you will receive information by ‘Pony Express’ it means that you will quickly receive an important letter, note, information, email, text, or phone message. The timing of this ‘quick’ information is usually 1-10 days! 

Highland Pony

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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