Shetland ponies also were probably influenced by the Celtic pony, brought to the islands by settlers between 2000 and 1000 BCE. The harsh climate and scarce food developed the ponies into extremely hardy animals.
Shetland ponies were first used for pulling carts and for carrying peat, coal and other items, and sloughing land. Then, as the Industrial Revolution increased the need for coal in the mid-nineteenth century, thousands of Shetland ponies travelled to mainland Britain to be pit ponies, working underground hauling coal, often for their entire (often short) lives.
Coal mines in the eastern United States also imported some of these animals. The last pony mine in the United States closed in 1971.
In 1957, the Shetland Islands Premium Stallion Scheme was formed to subsidize high-quality registered stallions to improve the breeding stock. A short broad back and deep girth are universal characteristics, as is a springy stride.
It has a long thick mane and tail, and a dense double winter coat to withstand harsh weather. It may be of any known horse coat color other than spotted.
It is not unusual for a Shetland pony to live more than 30 years. Shetland pony “Grand National” in the Today, Shetlands are ridden by children and are shown by both children and adults at horse shows in harness driving classes as well as for pleasure driving outside the show ring.
Shetlands are ridden by small children at horse shows, in riding schools and stables as well as for pleasure. They are seen working in commercial settings such as fairs or carnivals to provide short rides for visitors.
They are also seen at petting zoos and sometimes are used for therapeutic horseback riding purposes. Junior Harness Racing was founded in Queensland by a group of breeders to give young people aged 6–16 an opportunity to obtain a practical introduction to the harness racing industry.
The children have the opportunity to drive Shetland ponies in harness under race conditions. No prize money is payable on pony races, although winners and place-getters receive medallions.
^ Reid, C. “Women unloading seats from Richie”. ^ The Last Pony Mine, a documentary film, Les Benedict, director, Steve Knudsen, producer, 1972.
^ Elise Rousseau, Yann Le Boris, Teresa Lavender Pagan (2017). When you live on a tiny, harsh island, you don’t need a giant draft to get your work done and it might be hard to keep one if grass is scarce.
The Shetland Pony was the perfect size for the farmers on the isles, who used them for pulling carts, carrying peat and even plowing the farm land. They have “good conversion rates for food” and they even eat the seaweed that washes up on the beach to get nutrients such as minerals to supplement their scant diet.
In the mid-1800's, the Shetland Pony was put to use in underground mines once the use of women and children was outlawed. The UK Shetland Pony Stud-book does not allow any registered stock that are taller than 11 hands.
McDonald's unveils its own meatless burger Shetland ponies do have a reputation to be mean and nasty, but they are really just clever and smart and have a bit of an attitude.
They are very smart and resourceful, much more so than a typical horse or even other pony breeds. They had to be in order to survive the rugged conditions of their native Shetland Aisles.
By the time you teach a Shetland something, they've already figured out 10 ways to avoid doing it! Plus they get bored easily, and will start looking for trouble if you do not keep their little brains occupied.
Another problem these poor little ponies have is that they are usually ridden than small children, not experienced adult trainers. They end up getting a lot of conflicting signals from their young riders, and sometimes get away with misbehavior to the point where it becomes an ingrained habit.
People give them free choice grass, grain, hay, etc, until the poor things are so fat, they feel lousy and get nasty tempered. So some ponies turn sour, based upon their amateur handling.
Again, just like some horses are ruined by bad training. I don't know why people see small equines and want to treat them like stuffed animals, but they do.
I do find Shetty's tend to be a little grumpier, stubborner and can turn for the nip or bite a little quicker than some other ponies, but that's a huge generalization. Having said that, one of my first lesson horses was a little bloke called Percy, the most lovely little Shetty in the world.
He never put a foot wrong and took all the dragging around and dressing up as well as being a top little show pony for the instructors' daughter. If I find to comparable ponies but ones a Shetty and ones a little Welsh I will pick the Welsh though... personal preference.
Also, some mean rap comes from them being so 'small' and 'cute' people forget they need proper boundaries and manners like a 17hh horse. Also, a lot of them are constantly handled by inexperienced children who are not being shown how to be boss and not let the pony get it over them.
I heard the rider's mother cooing, and darned if people all around weren't beaming and grinning like that pony had done something really smart! A lot of times, people who own Shetlands are afraid to really discipline them when they need to, because (ignorant) observers treat someone disciplining a Shetland like a child abuser.
The result is that Shetlands get away with crop that nobody would even think of tolerating from a full-sized horse. I have known a couple of Shetlands that were broke to drive that were decent, well-mannered ponies, primarily because the woman who owned them would not let them get away with any garbage, and she disciplined them when they needed discipline.
Whenever I'm around someone who starts crooning and simpering over how cute, how absolutely darling Shetland ponies are, I just grind my teeth in frustration. Shetlands can be decent driving ponies if they're trained right, but nobody who is crooning over how cute they are, how absolutely darling, is going to do anything but spoil them.
But after 2 months of work and riding he is the sweetest pony you ever met. He has bushings though, and his owner can't afford the pills he needs.
As a note though, it really isn't about the breed, it's about the horse or pony itself. Usually a little discipline is all that's needed to show them that it not the way to respond.