Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The Shetland Pony!
I think everyone loves ponies. Or at least they love the idea of them! They look like miniature horses and are just so adorable! To be considered a pony, they should be under 14.2 hands as adults. The Shetland Pony is one of the most popular ponies. They are very strong, often able to pull weight that weighs twice as much as they do! They are able to live in quite harsh conditions and readily live longer than 30 years. This pony also has a very gentle demeanor and can be great for children to first learn to ride. The maximum weight they can carry is around 130 pounds, but should be less than that if possible to avoid any long-term back problems.
In America, there are 4 different breeds of Shetland Ponies recognized. In 1888 the American Shetland Pony Club was formed and it’s specific purpose was to pedigree all imported ponies. The four breeds that are recognized are the Modern American Shetland, the Classic American Shetland, the National Show Pony, and the American Show Pony. Shetland Ponies are used in many different activities. They are small and can be used for riding at fairs and zoos. They are also good in harness driving and can be used in parades. In therapeutic programs for physically and mentally challenged people, ponies are often used as well. They can also be used as guide animals in certain cases or events.
Ponies in general often come from areas where good nutrition is hard to come by and environments are harsh. This results in smaller sized breeds and more independent personalities. The Shetland Pony comes from the Shetland Islands, which are north of Scotland. They developed into a strong breed while living there for the past 2000 years. The Islands are extremely cold and windy. This forced the ponies living there to develop thick double coats, thick manes, and thick tails to help keep them warm. They adapted to survive off of only washed up seaweed and some rough grasses which are able to grow there. The terrain is rough and rugged without much shelter. All of these circumstances really helped shape them into hardy little ponies!
Here is a bit of interesting history in how these ponies were used to help humans. Shetland Ponies were used as work horses for farmers located on the Shetland Islands. They would have them haul back coal and peat to be used as fuel. And then during the mid-1800′s, when the Industrial Revolution was taking place, many Shetland Ponies were exported to Britain and the United States to work in coal mines. Miners would keep them in their mines to haul coal out, and they would often live their whole lives underground! This often reduced their life spans by quite a bit.
Caring and feeding for a Shetland Pony is very similar to other horses and ponies. But they can do better on a more limited diet. However these ponies in particular are prone to laminitis. Laminitis is caused by a diet containing a lot of non-structural carbohydrates such as grains. Generally you will want them to eat a diet full of low-fat and low-carbohydrate forage out in the pasture. Actually, they do best when kept in a pasture-type environment and are able to roam. This is good for both eating and exercising. They also generally love companionship and often do well being kept with other ponies or horses.
Availability of Shetland Ponies varies from location to location. However you should be able to find one readily enough if you are interested in obtaining one. In Europe they are very popular and easy to come by. In the United States there are many breeders across the country. Classified ads are a very good place to look as well.
For more detailed information and facts relating to ponies, read here on All About Ponies.
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.