• IUCN Status
    Not evaluated
  • Population
    100,000 worldwide - 1000 of these still live in the Shetland Isles
  • Diet
    Herbivore - grass, leaves & twigs. In the wild they will also eat mosses & seaweed
  • Group
  • Size
    Average height is approx 107cm
  • Continent
  • Lifespan
    approx 30 years
  • Weight
    Approximately between 150 to 200 kg
  • Habitat
    Farmland & Shetland Isles
  • Scientific Name
    Equus caballus caballus

Meet the Shetland Pony


The Shetland pony is a Scottish breed of pony originating in the Shetland Isles in the north of Scotland.

They may stand up to 107cm at the withers and have heavy coats and short legs.

A Shetland pony is strong for its size hence, they were first used for pulling carts and carrying peat, coal and other items and ploughing land.  In the mid-nineteenth century (during the Industrial Revolution) thousands of Shetland ponies travelled to mainland Britain to be pit ponies as the need for coal increased.



our miniature Scottish ponies at Wolds Wildlife Park

Did you know?

Here are just some of the many things you may be interested to learn about Shetland Ponies

Are Shetland ponies strong?up arrow

Yes!  Relative to their size, the Shetland pony is recognised as the strongest equid in existence.

Shetland ponies can pull twice their own weight, giving them about double the power of most heavy horses comparative to their physical size.

How long do Shetland ponies live?down arrow

The average expectancy for these ponies is between 25-30 years; a fit Shetland can outlive larger horses by at least five years.

When were Shetland ponies domesticated?down arrow

It is believed that Shetland ponies were domesticated around 500 BC and have been used all over the world for diverse purposes, from a riding horse to a plough or pack pony.

They have become one of the most popular ponies in the world.

What is a Shetland ponies coat like?down arrow

Over the years natural selection has created a sturdy animal with a coat that, in winter, has hairs which shed the rain, keeping the pony's skin dry and, in summer, a coat that carries a beautiful silky sheen.  

Ponies have mane and tail hair that is long, straight, very strong and in the past was used for making fishing lines and bird snares.  Shetland pony tail hair was much sort after and in the 17th century it was a crime to cut their tails, instead, the hair had to be removed very carefully.


What colour can shetland ponies be?down arrow

They can be almost every equine colour, including pinto combinations (patches of white and any other colour) but they are never spotted.

The most common colours are black, chestnut, grey, bay, brown, roan, palomino, buckskin, dun, cream and champagne - with every variety of face & leg markings.