The Pony Today
Today the Shetland pony no longer has the hardworking life of its ancestors, as nowadays the main employment is for a childs riding pony or for carriage driving, and it is hugely popular world-wide.
The two types established within the breed from the ponies origins and which retain distinct characteristics today make it highly suitable for either function, the heavier boned draught animal with powerful chest and shoulders for driving and the lighter free moving pony with high tail carriage and pretty head for riding.
It is to the credit of breeders past and present that these two types have been successfully combined and yet may still retain a certain difference which has given us the versatile ponies that we have today.
Their temperament is superb for both riding and driving but it is essential that even though they are small they are broken in exactly the same way as for larger equines, being long reined, mouthed and backed. Their docile nature is ideal for a childs first pony and they can hold their own amongst much larger ponies. They are driving ponies par excellence given their high intelligence and courageous disposition and for their size they are the strongest of all the horse breeds.
The height limit for adult ponies is 42, ponies over 34 are Standard and ponies 34 and under are known as Miniatures.
Both should have the same characteristics and comply with the Breed Standard on all points. Ponies as small as 26 have been recorded centuries ago in the islands which were just as hardy and thrifty as their larger relations but breeders are not encouraged to breed too small and the popular height for miniatures in the show ring is around 32.
There are Shetland Pony Studs located all over the UK and approximately 2000 foals are registered with the Society each year. Many breeders nowadays have their own websites which offer much information for anyone who is interested in acquiring a Shetland.
Official Society sales of ponies are held in Aberdeen and Reading each Autumn with buyers coming from all over the world to purchase ponies bred in the Mother country.
A number of Shetland Pony Groups have been formed throughout the UK and these hold Group Shows and other events in their localities during the year. For further information click Regional Groups.