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The American Shetland Pony was developed from the original Shetland Pony of the Shetland Islands, with inclusion of other pony bloodlines. With the addition of genes from the Welsh and Hackney, the result was a Shetland that was more refined and taller, with higher head and slimmer lines, well-made, squarely built, with short ears, wide apart eyes, small muzzle and fine neck.
In 1888 the American Shetland Pony Club was founded as the registry, for imports at that time and for ongoing evolution in American. Currently there are separate breeds within the club: the Classic, the Modern, the American Show and the National Show Pony.
THE CLASSIC AMERICAN CATEGORY
The Classic American Shetland Pony’s ancestry dates back to the Shetland Islands, and the importations to America in the 1800’s. where it has been selectively breed now for over 100 years.
The maximum height of the Classic Shetland Pony is 46 inches. Since the original Shetland was once bred to serve in coal mines, this pony has an innate driving ability to this day and is excellent at driving as well as being of a perfect size for any child. The temperament is extremely reliable, the pony is hardy and an ‘easy keeper’ as far as feeding.
From backyard fun to competition, The Classic Shetland fills the bill. Competition includes leadline classes for small children, very competitive driving and halter classes and antique carriage hitches, parades and also in actual work whenever needed or useful.
THE MODERN CATEGORY
The Modern Shetland Pony is a pony of elegance, combining the hardiness of the Classic with more refinement and animation derived from outcrossing. The Modern Shetland, like the Classic, cannot exceed 46 inches in height but possesses a long neck and is more fine of bone, producing high action and a more spirited personality. The Modern Pony is as well suited to the show ring as it is to ‘at home’ pursuits. The hardiness of a pony combined with the elegance of a larger carriage horse, and the fast thinking of an event horse, is hard to beat!
The Modern Pony is shown in breeding or halter classes, roadster, harness and pleasure driving, Gymkhana and hunter-jumper pony classes. They are shown in two height divisions, under 43 inches or the division from 43 to 46 inches in height.
AMERICAN SHOW CATEGORY
The American Show Pony can be of Hackney or of Shetland breeding, or a combination. They are larger and can measure as much as 48 inches at the withers. They possess a very animated gait and a brilliant way of going. There are many show ring competitions available, with national and world championship levels in America.
NATIONAL SHOW CATEGORY
The National Show Pony, the newest to be recognized in America, must have one purebred Shetland Pony parent, but this pony can measure as much as 14/2 hands in height. Competition classes are being developed in Shetland shows and there are national divisions for driving, hunters and western classes.
The Shetland Pony has traveled from Scandinavia to the Shetland Islands, and around the world, increasing in popularity through the centuries.