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The Fascinating World of Shetland Ponies: History Cost and Alternative Ownership Options

Shetland Ponies: A Comprehensive Guide

Shetland ponies are one of the smallest horse breeds in the world and have been a popular choice among breeders and horse enthusiasts for many years. They are known for their hardy and compact builds, making them perfect for a variety of activities and purposes.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the fascinating world of Shetland ponies.

History and Characteristics

The Shetland Isles, located off the northeast coast of Scotland, is where Shetland ponies originated. The ponies are believed to have been brought to the island by Scandinavian settlers over 2,000 years ago.

These ponies are known for their small stature, with a maximum height of 42 inches (10.2 hands). They have a sturdy build, making them more than capable of handling rough terrain and weather.

This hardiness is a result of their upbringing, being bred in harsh conditions in the Shetland Isles. Shetland ponies have thick coats that protect them from the cold weather, and they shed this coat in the summer months to stay cool.

They have strong hooves, excellent stamina, and a calm temperament, making them ideal for children and novice riders.

Factors Affecting Cost

Shetland ponies can range in cost depending on their types/bloodlines, training, show record, age, conformation, and color. The cost can vary between a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the pony’s quality and bloodline.

  • Bloodlines: Champion bloodlines and well-bred horses are likely to cost more than those with a less impressive pedigree.
  • Training and Show Records: Training and show records are also considered when pricing a Shetland pony.
  • Conformation and Color: Conformation and color are other factors that come into play when determining the cost of a Shetland pony.
  • Age: Younger ponies tend to be more expensive than older ones because of their potential lifespan.

Monthly Costs

Owning a Shetland pony comes with various monthly expenses, including horse boarding, veterinary, farrier, and dentistry.

  • Boarding: Boarding can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars, depending on the type of barn and the area’s cost of living.
  • Farrier Services: Farrier services are needed every six to eight weeks and usually cost between $30 to $50.
  • Veterinary Care: Veterinary care can account for the majority of monthly expenses, especially if the pony needs regular medication or checkups.
  • Dentistry: They require annual dental checks, which can cost between $150 to $200 per visit.

Types and Bloodlines of Shetland Ponies

Shetland ponies come in a variety of types and bloodlines, which can affect their appearance, temperament, and capabilities.

American Shetland Ponies vs. Traditional Shetland Ponies

American Shetland ponies, for instance, are known for their refined and elegant builds, while traditional Shetland ponies have fuller coats and a stockier frame.

American Shetland Pony Club Divisions

The American Shetland Pony Club divides its ponies into two categories: Division A and B.

  • Division A: The smaller ones, ranging from 28-38 inches in height. They are the hardier builds of the two categories and are ideal for the show ring.
  • Division B: Have a more elegant build and are approximately 39-42 inches in height.

Types of Shetland Ponies

There are four types of Shetland ponies: Foundation, Classic, Modern, and Modern Pleasure.

  • Foundation Shetlands: The oldest bloodlines with a stockier build and a shorter back.
  • Classic Shetlands: The next-generation and have a more refined look.
  • Modern Shetlands: Have a taller stature and better movement.
  • Modern Pleasure Shetlands: Bred specifically for their calm disposition and ability to be ridden.

Importance of Bloodlines

Bloodlines play a critical role in determining the quality and value of Shetland ponies. Breeding Shetland ponies with champion bloodlines ensures that the ponies will have the best qualities of their lineage.

The bloodline also influences how well the pony can perform in various disciplines and shows.

Shetland Ponies as Show Ponies

Training and show record of Shetland ponies is an important aspect to consider for those interested in owning or showing one of these adorable equines. Shetland ponies have grown in popularity as show ponies over the years, with their sturdy builds and excellent dispositions making them perfect for a range of activities.

Importance of Training

Training is essential for a Shetland pony to perform well in shows. Top show barns recommend training multiple times a week to develop the necessary skills and behaviors required for show ponies.

Training must start from a young age so that the pony can learn the necessary routines and skills to excel.

Popular Showmanship and Jumping Classes

Showmanship and jumping classes are two popular categories where Shetland ponies excel.

  • Showmanship: Involves presenting the pony in front of the judge to assess their conformation and grooming.
  • Jumping: Assesses the pony’s athletic ability and jumping skills.

Popularity of Shetland Ponies for Shows

Shetland ponies are popular as show ponies because they are ideal for children’s jumping mounts and driving ponies.

  • Children’s Jumping Mounts: Shetland ponies exhibit a high level of intelligence and willingness, making them perfect for driving competitions.
  • Driving Ponies: They also enjoy jumping and can be used as reliable jumping ponies for children.

Shetland ponies are not just for kids, however.

They have gained popularity among adults for driving competitions and halter classes. The ponies’ large, expressive eyes and adorable personality make them attractive to all ages.

Cost of Ponies with Top Show Records

The cost of a Shetland pony with a top show record can range from $3,000-$8,000. These are for ponies that have performed well in local and regional shows.

For elite show ponies that have performed well in national competitions, their price can exceed $10,000.

Age, Conformation, and Color of Shetland Ponies

American Shetland ponies are known for their strong, athletic, refined builds with elegant heads and expressive eyes.

They also have a good bone structure, allowing them to move gracefully and quickly. Conformation factors such as a short back, a sloping shoulder, and a deep barrel also make the ponies ideal for riding and driving.

Importance of Age and Conformation

Age and conformation are essential considerations when purchasing a Shetland pony.

  • Prime Age: Prime age for these ponies is between 6-15 years when they are in their most active and energetic stage.

Beyond 15, some Shetland ponies may still be active, but their performance may decline, and they may not be as suitable for competitions.

Popular Colors

Color is another important consideration, with the most popular colors being black, chestnut, and bay.

Unique and Desirable Colors

However, unique and less commonly seen colors such as gray, buckskin, and perlino are also available.

  • Gray Shetland Ponies: Tend to be rare and are highly desirable for their unique appearance.
  • Buckskin-colored Shetlands: Have a tan or gold coat with black points.
  • Perlino-colored ponies: Have a cream-colored coat with blue or green eyes.

These colors add a level of uniqueness to the ponies, making them a more valuable purchase.


In conclusion, Shetland ponies are excellent show ponies known for their strong, athletic, and refined builds. Proper training from a young age and a good show record can significantly affect the pony’s cost.

Shetland ponies come in a wide range of ages, and prime age is between 6-15 years. When making a purchase, good conformation is essential, with unique colors such as gray, buckskin, and perlino adding value and desirability.

Shetland ponies can perform in a range of disciplines, from jumping and driving to halter and showmanship. With their excellent temperament and versatile nature, Shetland ponies are an excellent addition to any barn or family.

Alternative Options to Buying a Shetland Pony

Owning a Shetland pony can be a rewarding experience, but the cost of purchasing and owning one can be expensive. However, there are alternative options to owning a Shetland pony that can provide a budget-friendly approach without sacrificing the benefits of horse ownership.

Leasing Options

Leasing a Shetland pony can provide partial or full use without the full cost of buying a pony. This option is ideal for those who cannot afford the total cost of a pony or for those who want to try owning a pony before committing to buying one.

Leasing a Shetland pony can be an excellent option for those who do not have a lot of time to devote to pony care. The owner of the pony usually takes care of all the feeding, veterinary and farrier expenses.

This can significantly reduce the financial burden on the lessee. Leasing options also offer a degree of flexibility, as there are usually short-term and long-term options available.

Limited Liability Company or Partnership

A limited liability company or partnership is an option for those who want to own a Shetland pony but cannot afford the costs. This option allows individuals to divide up the costs of buying and owning a pony.

Each member has a financial stake in the pony and is responsible for different aspects of pony care. This option can save individuals a lot of money, as the cost of the pony and all associated expenses are shared between members.

It offers an excellent way to own a high-quality Shetland pony without shouldering all the financial burden alone.

Owning a Shetland Pony

The benefits of owning a Shetland pony are numerous. They are versatile, beautiful and great for children and adults alike.

Shetland ponies have a gentle and hardy disposition making them ideal for a range of activities and environments. The average cost of purchasing a Shetland pony is generally between $500-$3,000.

The cost can vary depending on the pony’s age, breed, bloodlines, training, and show record. While this cost can appear steep, when compared to the cost of owning other equine breeds, it is quite affordable.

Shetland ponies are small, hardy, intelligent and easy to train. They make excellent additions to families with young children and help teach responsibility.

They can be ridden, driven or used as dressage ponies, making them versatile for recreational use.

Describing the Shetland Pony

Shetland ponies are recognized for their strong and hardy nature. Their heritage of living in harsh conditions on the Shetland Isles has made them exceptionally resilient.

They have short legs, broad bodies, and a thick mane and tail which can protect them from inclement weather. Shetlands have a calm, sweet temperament that makes them suitable for children of all ages.

They are also known for their intelligence, making them easy to train. Despite their small size, they are strong and can be trained to perform a range of activities.


In conclusion, owning a Shetland pony can be a fulfilling experience, but it can also be an expensive one. However, there are alternative options available, such as leasing, shared ownership, or limited liability companies, which offer cost-effective solutions.

Shetland ponies are known for their versatility, beautiful looks, and gentle temperament. They are affordable to purchase, and their hardy disposition and intelligence make them easy to train.

With their small size, they can be ridden, driven, or used as dressage ponies, making them suitable for recreational use for the whole family. The article explores the different aspects of owning a Shetland pony, delving into factors such as history, types, bloodlines, training, costs, and alternative options.

Shetland ponies are a versatile and hardy breed of horses that make excellent companions for both children and adults. The article emphasizes the importance of proper training, show records, and conformation when considering a Shetland pony.

Alternative options such as leasing and shared ownership are presented as budget-friendly solutions for those who cannot afford to purchase a pony outright. Overall, owning a Shetland pony is a fulfilling experience that requires careful consideration but can be rewarding in the end.


1. How much does it cost to buy a Shetland pony?

The average cost of purchasing a Shetland pony is between $500 to $3,000.

2. What are the main factors that affect the cost of a Shetland pony?

The main factors that affect the cost of a Shetland pony are types/bloodlines, training, show record, age, conformation, and color.

3. Are Shetland ponies suitable for children?

Yes, Shetland ponies are gentle, easy to train, and have a calm temperament, making them a suitable choice for children of all ages.

4. What are some alternative options to buying a Shetland pony?

Leasing and shared ownership through limited liability companies or partnerships are alternative options to buying a Shetland pony that can be budget-friendly.

5. What are some of the unique characteristics of American Shetland ponies?

American Shetland ponies are known for their strong, athletic, refined builds with elegant heads and expressive eyes. They also have a good bone structure, allowing them to move gracefully and quickly.

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