Shetland Pony Breed

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

One of the most popular pony breeds is the Shetland. The Shetland is a smaller pony with a maximum height of 46 inches (11.6 hands); however, most Shetlands stand approximately 40 inches tall at the withers. This hardy breed was developed in the highland country 100 miles north of Scotland near the Arctic Circle (Scotland Island).

The Shetland’s strength and size made it ideal to work in the mines in England and Scotland. Due to the isolation of Scotland Island and the desire of its inhabitants to keep small ponies for children, Shetlands were not heavily crossed with other horses and were able to maintain their breed characteristics relatively well.

In 1888, the American Shetland Pony Club was organized. It recognizes the colors of black, dark brown, bay, and chestnut as the breed’s official colors. A color unique to Shetlands is the silver dapple–-a dappled chestnut with silver or white mane and tail.