The Shetland Pony, as the named suggests, originates from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. No one knows exactly how the foundation horses came to Scotland, though some theorize that they are related to Scandinavian horses and were brought to the area by the Vikings. Nevertheless, several hundred years of living in the harsh climate of the area has caused the breed to develop in hardy pony.
|Shetland Pony credit|
At first, the pony was used to pull carts work farms. However, in the mid-1800s, when laws were passed prohibting children and women from working in mines, men needed someone else to help them haul coal. They resorted to the Shetland, a strong breed for it's small size. Until well into the 20th century, Shetlands were used as pit ponies not only in the UK, but also in America. These mines closed in the late 20th century.
Breed Description and Uses
Shetlands are small, sturdy ponies standing up to 10 hands high. Two types exist within the breed: a stocky one with a large head and a lighter one with a small head. Both kinds have thick manes and tails, hard hooves, wide backs, and broad hindquarter, and can be found in black, chestnut, bay, and even pinto.
Despite their small stature, Shetlands have a large weight capacity and are able to carry a third of their body weight. This means they can carry a average adult, though they are most commonly ridden by children due to there small size. Shetlands participate in both English and western classes, as well as gymkhana. Some children even jump with their ponies. Whatever the task, the Shetland seems to have done it. That includes harness and packing as well as riding.