Meet the small but cool Shetland pony

2 min.

The “Sheltie”, the “Shetter” or just the “cool Shetland pony”. The little pony breed is both popular and loved, especially for its abilities as a children’s pony. Many have probably taken their first riding lessons on the back of a small, handsome and cool Shetland pony. Here you can learn more about what makes the breed so special.

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The Shetland Islands, located northeast of Scotland, is where the cool little ponies originate. Due to the harsh climate of the Shetland Islands, a Shetland pony is hardy with a strong coat and small dense limbs, which make it easier for it to stay warm. Shetland ponies have been used for generations to break peat and for plowing on the islands: When the use of children in mining was banned, a large number of ponies were put to work in the mines.

Although small, the personality of the cool Shetland pony is as great as that of the big horses. Photo: Shutterstock


Registered Shetland ponies are a maximum of 10.5 hands (42 inches) at the withers. In the United States, the American Shetland Pony Club allows ponies up to 11.5 hands (46 inches). The weight of a Shetland pony depends on its height but generally it is between 400 to 450 pounds.

Its legs are short and strong as are the hooves. The cool Shetland pony has a compact and square body and the mane and tail are powerful. Its winter coat has an outer layer and an inner layer, so the rain bounces off and the inner coat insulates during the winter season. In summer, the cool Shetland pony has short and shiny fur.

Colors and Markings

Shetlands are almost every equine color, including pinto combinations (patches of white and any other color). But registered Shetlands cannot be leopard spotted. The most common coat colors include black, chestnut, gray, bay, brown, roan, palomino, buckskin, dun, cream, and champagne—with every variety of face and leg markings.

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A Shetland pony is intelligent and good at thinking independently. They are generally gentle with a cool temperament, which makes them common as riding ponies for smaller children. However, a cool Shetland pony requires a good basic training because it is so self-willed by nature that if it is not trained well, it can become naughty. However, this trait is mostly just a charming detail of the beloved riding pony that kids value so much.

Because the Shetland ponies are hardy and fairly independent, they’re typically easy to care for. They do well in cold, rugged climates like their native Shetland Islands. But as owner you must pay attention to their nutrition and avoid overfeeding, which can lead to laminitis, obesity and other health problems.

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