What Are UK Shetlands Horses and Why Are They So Unique and Special?

Shetlands HorsesGoing back in history, a breed of horses called miniatures can be traced to seven complete generations.  But, breeders of horses did not like the UK Shetland because it was not more exotic or more refined.  A UK Shetland pony looks like a miniature horse.  But they are not considered miniature horses. These horses are full grown.

Most breeds will stand at thirty-six inches tall. There will be smaller ones at only thirty inches tall. Some will be larger at forty inches tall. If proper nutrition and care is provided, the UK Shetland can live up to thirty years.

UK Shetlands originated from Scotland. Because of the Shetland’s heritage, they had to be protected from the elements of constant rain, damp, and fog.  Their hair would retract the wet away from their bodies because of it being so straight and thick. A person would never see them soaking wet as it was a natural barrier. This also helped to keep them warm on many chilly days and nights. Another natural feature is a lock of hair over the Shetland’s eyes. This is designed for dirt, dust, wind, and the sun to not damage them.

When a person sees a UK Shetland pony they look more stocky, low to the ground, have a denser coat, and are wider or rounder than most horses.  The reason is all year round the ponies have a constant layer of fat, unlike regular horses.  Because of the harsh elements, the fat would store food for them and give them a metabolic rate that was slow. The horses have thick tails and manes along with coats that are shaggy in appearance.

All these items come together to give the UK Shetland pony one of the most gentlest, safest,  intelligent, kind, and sensitive animal. These animals actually can be work horses as they are so strong and were bred that way. They were used for farming and to haul heavy items.  In history, these ponies worked in Wales, Scotland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in the coal mines because their size could go through the narrow shafts of the mine.

The most popular color to be found in a UK Shetland is black.  It is extremely rare to find a colored pony. Sometimes an occasional brown, grey, or chestnut will be found. It is according to breeding. UK Shetlands are just like a goat when comes to food. They like to dig through hay or straw piles and do not graze like normal horses.  Leaves, stems, and a few blades of grass make them most happy. Their nature is to hunt and look for their food. In modern times alfalfa and barley is fed to the ponies.

UK Shetland ponies make wonderful pets for children as they have such a loving, gentle nature.  They are used as therapy horses for many different reasons.  They can be seen at fairs, carnivals, and other events.  UK Shetland horses are one horse breed that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so.