Shetland (Scottish) pony: keeping and breeding

Today the attitude towards horses is completely different than hundred years ago. With the advent of powerful trucks, and the large number of different types of modern agricultural technology, these four-legged workers have become less popular.

However yet they still remain popular, despite the fact that interest in them has decreased. Among the existing species it is worth to highlight a Shetland pony, which belongs to the largest in the world.

This horse can be found on different continents of the world – in Europe and Asia, Africa and Australia as well as America.


The birthplace of this breed is the Scottish archipelago, which is divided on one side by the North sea, and on the other the Atlantic ocean. This is the extreme Northern point of the British Isles. In this archipelago are concentrated on 18 reefs and Islands, among which only 24 are inhabited. The place where they were first discovered by the Shetland pony has no active settling. The reason for that are the unfavourable conditions, many deserts, rocky hills, harsh climate, sparse vegetation, numerous wetlands, a constant dampness and strong winds.

Although this breed is known for a long time, until now, scientists do not have precise information about its origins. According to historical documents, the first specimens of this breed were discovered in the year 500 ad. It is assumed that then it was the descendants of the tundra ponies who emigrated to this part of the world from Scandinavia 10 thousand years ago.

But also there is another version of the origin of Shetland pony. Scientists do not exclude that on the island in I-IV centuries, ponies were imported by the Picts, which is the most ancient people of Scotland. In those days the area was very wooded and conducive to the breeding of this breed. However, in the period from IX to X century in this region has greatly changed the climate that led to the complete disappearance of a pony. Such conditions could adapt some animals – sheep, field mice, hedgehogs and Shetland ponies. For many centuries the breed has evolved and today they represent a stalwart, hardy with a strong Constitution.

Since a long time Shetland pony lived in isolation, breeding of this breed took place between the tribesmen. On numerous occasions attempts were made to mix it with ordinary horses, but nothing ever came of it.


Do Shetland ponies have a number of characteristic features by which they can easily recognize. They look like heavyweights in miniature.

Purebred representative are the following features:

  • Height 65-110 cm;
  • Weight not more than 200 kg;
  • A strong Constitution, proportional medium size head;
  • Broad forehead;
  • Straight profile, which in some specimens may be adapted to a concave or hook-nosed;
  • the large size of the eye, located at a distance from each other;
  • Small mouth;
  • Wide nostrils;
  • Proportionally set ears of small size;
  • Muscular neck with high output;
  • Wide body;
  • A well-developed chest;
  • Large size with a sagging stomach;
  • Broad muscular little length back;
  • Flat croup;
  • Strong, short length well boned legs:
    • Front have the correct setting and developed the carpal joint;
    • At the rear there is also a correct statement, and pronounced hock joint, Tarsus developed dry.
  • Rounded hooves, culminating in a solid hoof horn;
  • Wool consists of long fur and thick undercoat;
  • Lush mane and tail.
  • The variety of colors among which the most common is piebald;
  • Quite a large lifetime, which is 30-40 years. Record for the breed is the age of 54 years.

Shetland pony propagated in the same way as normal horses. Since mares quite petite, at the time of birth it is desirable the presence of an experienced veterinarian. From mares most often appear one or two foals. When selecting candidates for crossing adhere to the General rules of the breeding of farm animals. Shetland pony – a powerful horse with a well developed croup. Given its weight it can carry cargo, twice the one that can handle her big brothers.


For a more complete understanding of the breed we list the distinctive features of the Shetland pony:

  • All representatives of this breed is long-lived;
  • Very bold and independent animals;
  • have a highly developed intellect;
  • easily trained, quickly learn any commands, but also bad habits;
  • Sometimes can be very stubborn;
  • High endurance;
  • The tendency to obesity;
  • Among this breed a lot of blue-eyed specimens;
  • Not different the playfulness and elegance of movements;
  • Have a rough coat, long mane and tail;
  • A wide variety of colors, which was achieved by careful selection for working qualities.

Some owners, especially the inexperienced, are foals Shetland ponies wrong, educating them the wrong way. At the age of 3 years, they get an adult animal weighing 200 kg and height at the rise on its hind legs to 2 m, which is very difficult to force to obey. Therefore, it is necessary from an early age to show rigor in the education of this breed. The owners must make animals from complete and unquestioning obedience.

Deserves special attention zaezde under the saddle. There are difficulties, and it is connected with structural features of a little horse with round sides. It is unlike other animals more nimble, therefore, only a skilled rider can stay on it.

To accustom a horse to ride under saddle on her first ride in the truck. Once the animal begins to obey reason and voice commands, and it requires approximately a month, she mastered riding under the top.


Although throughout time the little animals were very popular, horse breeders little worried about the question of purity of breed. The first experiments on breeding a Shetland pony with the correct selection began only in 1870. A pioneer in this endeavor was a fan of horse of Lord Londonderry, who decided to build on the island of Bressay stud breeding ponies. Started serious work on selection of candidates who were supposed to possess not only specific job skills, but also to have the necessary conformation type.

Given the significant contribution of Londonderry in the breed, which appeared subsequently, the society for the breeding of Shetland ponies made by this manufacturer in the first volume of the General stud book. Despite the fact that the enterprise did not last long and stopped working in 1899, due to the decreasing interest in ponies, today you can still find contemporary Champions of this breed, which appears in the pedigree of many famous producers of the legendary factory.

Until the XIX century the breeding of Shetland ponies was done only with the participation of representatives of this breed. When producers having the goal to use ponies as riding horses, they needed to increase the growth of animals. This led to a series of experiments that allowed to take several types or inbreeding of the offspring:


One of the first experiments was established in the 50s of the 19th century on the Peninsula of Somberg and South coast of the island of Mainland, where it was decided to cross Shetland pony and the Norwegian plotskih stallions. Received from parents, the offspring had a height at the withers 130 cm


This type appeared as the result of crossing a Shetland pony with lead Arab stallion. As a result, the light appeared foals height 120 cm

American Shetland

This type managed to create by crossing the Scottish mares with stallions of the breed, acne, and then adding to them the blood of Arab and thoroughbred riding breed. Derived from this way of offspring height was 130 cm

In by carrying out similar experiments on crossing appeared two new classes of the breed:

  • A”, or a base type. His representatives are animals with a height at withers of not more than 107 cm;
  • “B”, or refined type. It’s treated individuals growing from 170 to 120 cm.

Active dissemination of the breed on the continent began in the period from late XIX to the early XX centuries. And today there is a situation that in other countries, the population of this breed exceeds its population in their historic homeland.

The contents

To create favorable conditions for a Shetland pony, you need to avoid indoor dampness, drafts, to ensure a high litter quality food, clean water, and daily exercise. In the process of caring for the breed do not require special events. It is quite undemanding animals, very hardy, which can feed on the pastures as long as possible. When the content of a Shetland pony in the stables should be regularly cut thick hair. Peaceful nature allows to contain in one stall of two animals.

For normal development it is necessary to provide the animals proper diet, the basis of which should be hay or pasture grass. Oats give horses is undesirable because of the risk of allergic reactions. When the content of animals in the stable they need to be cleaned every day. Shetland ponies do not require forging. Events for veterinary treatment completely analogous to those conducted with ordinary horses.


Shetland pony unfairly overlook pastoralists, although they have sufficient qualities to be sought in the same way as traditional breeds.

Although they lose on the growth of normal horses, today displayed a lot of special types within the Shetland ponies that can be considered as alternatives to them. In any case, before you start breeding these horses, it is necessary to study their characteristics. Then this breed is not only not disappoint, but will also bring considerable benefit from their content.

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