American Shetland Pony: Horse Breed Profile and Information

American Shetland Pony
Image credit:

The American Shetland Pony is a breed of pony that originates in the United States. It is one of the many breeds of ponies that you can find in the United States; Expert predicted the population to be over 50,000 in 1994.

The American Shetland Pony descends from the classic Shetland Pony that people find on the Shetland Isles in Scotland.

Still, due to interbreeding with various horse and pony breeds, it is significantly taller and more graceful.

They do not have the thick coat that is characteristic of traditional Shetlands, and their conformation is more comparable to that of the Hackney Pony, with some Arab influence:

Pony of the Americans is the other breed of American that came from the classic Shetland pony. This breed is one of two that came into existence in the United States.


Eli Elliot was the one who brought this stallion into the United States. Eli Elliot brought 75 Shetland Ponies into the United States in 1885, documented as the first time people brought Shetland Ponies into the country.

In 1888, the American Shetland Pony Club became an organization for the breed. The original stock was a hybridization product with several different breeds, most notably the Hackney Pony. People also experimented with Arabian, Harness Show Pony, and Welsh breeds.

The end product was a taller and more elegant pony than the traditional Shetland. It had long legs and finer bone, high withers and a sloped shoulder, and a high movement that was especially well-suited to harness work.

It does not have the thick coat of the classic Shetland, but people consider it to maintain the toughness and endurance of that breed; in conformation, it is more comparable to the Hackney Pony while also showing some Arab influence.

People believe there were over 50,000 of these ponies in the United States in 1994, making it the most common breed of pony in that country.

Pony of the Americas is the other breed of American pony that came from the classic Shetland pony. This breed is one of two that began in the United States.

It was the primary source of inspiration for yet another breed from Shetlands, the German Classic Pony.

You can find an American Shetland Ponies in the stud book of the American Shetland Pony Club in one of four sections: foundation, classic, modern, and modern pleasure.

In the past, the traditional Shetland Pony was recorded in part A of the studbook, whereas American Shetlands were registered in section B of the book.

Overview of American Shetland Pony

Typical Conduct and Personality Traits

The American Shetland Pony Club states that ponies should be calm, courageous, free-spirited, intellectual, curious, and friendly.

However, because each pony is an individual, they may only partially conform to the breed standard. For instance, some may have a stubborn streak, while others are more amenable and submissive.

They are easy to train, sturdy, and complex. Therefore, people regard them as good possibilities for children’s mounts and driving, regardless of whether it is for pleasure or competition.


Live cover is the primary way to breed an American Shetland pony; however, people sometimes use artificial insemination (AI) in the breeding process.

Therefore, the mares are frequently allowed to foal in the field using live cover as they are exercised alongside the chosen stallion.

This can occur during the summer or all year long, depending on how each breeder operates. If she does not respond positively to his advances, there is a possibility that the mare and the stallion could hurt each other.

Thanks to artificial insemination (AI), it is now possible for a mare to be bred to a stallion located in a different part of the country. This removes the possibility of one horse hurting the other.

A disadvantage of using artificial cover is that, in comparison to natural cover, it is more likely that you will use multiple doses depending on whether the cover is fresh, chilled, or frozen, which ultimately results in a significant increase in the cost of breeding.

Appearance & Varieties

Even though over a century of breeding to a different breed standard has resulted in a more refined animal, the Foundation Classic American Shetland pony is the type of Shetland pony most similar to the original foundation Shetland ponies.

These ponies are the most authentic of the four types. They have short, slender bodies covered with smooth muscle, and their legs are clean.

People consider the Classic American Shetlands falling between the Foundation Classic and the Moderns.

They do not have a coarse frame and have ears that are sharp and well-formed, prominent eyes, elegant heads, legs that are slightly longer, deep chests, and great toplines.

They should move with “beauty and style,” as it is their intended purpose. There are two different height categories for modern American Shetlands: under 43 inches and 43 to 46 inches.

Their bloodlines contain among the most significant percentages of Hackney pony out of all of the American Shetland kinds, which contributes to their more “animated” movement and gives them an appearance that is proportionately more “small-scale horse” than it is “pony.”

The American Shetland pony should be at most 26 inches and should average around 42 inches in height.

There is no restriction on the coat color for any of the four kinds, although appaloosa-like spots are not permitted. Bay, black, dun, and roan are the colors that are seen the most frequently in the wild.

American Shetland Pony: A Guide to Caring for Their Stable Enclosure

According to the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (EFRA) in the United Kingdom, ponies that live in pasture require anywhere from 0.2 to 1.0 hectares (0.5 to 2.5 acres) of grazing land per capita if there is no additional food source available;

Nevertheless, if grazing grounds are in use for turnout, smaller areas may be more suited. It is also possible to install temporary cross-fencing to split the more extensive area into smaller portions to perform rotational grazing.

Depending on your management choice, you should provide them with shade and windbreak, whether in the shape of trees or hedges, field shelters, or a stable. The fencing should be at least 1 meter (3’3″) high.

It is dangerous to keep ponies close to trees containing black walnuts. Even though the toxicity of maple trees is a problem in other parts of the globe, the only native species in the United Kingdom (the Field Maple, also known as A. Campestre) is not harmful to horses.

However, you should be aware that the property your pony is kept on contains any imported species. The minimum required size for a stall for Shetland Ponies is approximately 3.05 meters by 3.05 meters (or 10 feet by 10 feet).


You do not need to provide American Shetland pony bedding with adequate drainage when stabled in grasslands or paddocks.

However, if drainage is complex, consider adding layers of hay, straw, or wood shavings to the dry ground in places famous for being problematic before those areas get muddy.

Because these materials are strong insulators and are absorbent, they help the ground to thaw out in the spring and absorb the early rains rather than producing standing puddles.

This prevents the ground from becoming waterlogged. If you try to do this on top of the mud, it won’t work; the soggy ground will swallow the bedding material rather than create the excellent, dry region you were going for.

Be sure that the beardless straw you use to bed stalls or creates dry patches in the turnout is in use and that any remnant wood shavings come from non-toxic species of wood.

In particular, you should steer clear of anything made of black walnut wood because the tree’s sap is toxic to horses.


The Shetland Isles are famous for their high winds and severe climate, with winter temperatures hovering just above freezing.

Despite this, the American Shetland pony can live in this environment thanks to its thick double coat, mane, and tail.

They can stay warm and dry because of the outer guard hairs of their coat, which shed water when it rains.

In addition, it is easier for them to find cover thanks to the natural windbreaks provided by the rocky, hilly terrain and peat banks that you can find in the common grazing areas, also known as scattalds.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like