In general, we categorize them by size. Their expected height should be around 120 cm. There are many breeds of ponies. These breeds have only one thing in common – low growth. On the other hand, the shape of the body and the colour of the fur can drastically differ. Some show signs similar to cold-blooded horses (lowered and split spine), others have features in common with hot-blooded breeds. They are still being used for light agricultural tasks and for carrying light freight on shorter distances (transport of milk, beer…). Ponies are most suited to entertain and for horse-back riding, for children and for adults as well. This means they have a bright future ahead of them. The majority of ponies can be found in England, Scandinavia, and Germany.
This, probably the most known breed of ponies, lives in the North of Scotland, on Shetland, and Orkney islands. Experts estimate that they have been living there for more than 2000 years. They haven´t changed due to the isolated environment in which they lived.
Their homeland didn´t offer them a lot of sun nor food. This is visible on their appearance – low growth. Their average height is 80 – 100 cm; some are even smaller than 80 cm.
In the middle of the previous century, they started to use them in coal mines for pulling carts. This is the time when they almost went extinct. Luckily, in 1870, lord Londonderry, founded a stud farm on the islands of Bressay and Noss and saved them from extinction. In 1980 they established an office dealing with their bloodline.
They have a small, straight, worn-out and extremely distinct head; muscular, somewhat furled; strong and short back; and long and muscular spine. Durable joints and a somewhat deep and wide shape mean that they are extremely strong despite their small size.
Nowadays, they are used for riding and carrying children, for garden works and for shorter transports. In the USA, a special kind of Shetland pony was bred. They crossbreed them with some of the European donkeys. Our zoo also keeps Shetland ponies.