Can You Ride a Shetland Pony?




The Shetland pony is one of the world’s most beloved horse breeds. They often serve as riding ponies for children and at petting zoos.

Shetland ponies are remarkably strong for their size, capable of pulling heavy loads under challenging conditions. This is due to them having been bred with toughness and hardiness in mind due to the harsh climate on Shetland Islands.

Physical Characteristics

Horses come in all shapes and sizes, with physical characteristics that vary considerably between breeds. Many of these distinctions can be traced back to the climate and landscape where they were bred.

One of the best-known small ponies is the Shetland pony, which originated in Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Over centuries, Shetland ponies have evolved to survive in harsh environmental conditions in their home country, making them incredibly hardy and resilient creatures.

Shetland ponies are known for their friendly and easy-going personalities, making them ideal for children and beginners. They make excellent companions to larger horses or ponies, and some even serve as therapy animals. Unfortunately, Shetland ponies can be stubborn and independent so socialization from an early age is key in order to teach them proper behavior.

Training and Care

Shetland ponies are gentle and even-tempered, making them ideal for families with children. Additionally, these hardy creatures can withstand severe weather conditions.

They make an ideal first horse for new horse owners and riders of all levels of experience, although they can be stubborn if not consistently trained.

Maintaining the health of a Shetland pony requires consistent feeding and daily care. This includes grooming their hooves using a hoof pick or hoof brush.

By doing this, they can stay healthy and contented for 25 – 30 years old, with some even reaching 40!

Equine colors include black, bay, chestnut, cream, dun, roan and buckskin. Some have piebald or skewbald coat patterns – patches of color with white accents – which is particularly appealing.


Shetland ponies are tough, hardy animals bred for harsh environments. With their highly evolved metabolisms that allow them to survive on limited food sources, these ponies have developed the capacity for endurance in difficult circumstances.

Shetland pony owners should feed their ponies high-quality grass hay and pasture daily, with at least one pound of forage per 100 pounds of body weight consumed each day.

Thunes suggests adding small amounts of low-calorie fibre sources, like soaked unmolassed beet pulp to a horse’s hay ration to encourage them to chew more deeply and maintain their maintenance calories. She adds that using a small-holed hay net can also extend your pony’s chewing time without overfeeding them with hay.

Shetland ponies typically do well on hay, and many can be kept on a calorie-controlled diet without needing concentrate feeds. However, if your horse has insulin resistance or works intensely, you may need to provide them with an additional source of calories through supplementation.


Regular exercise for ponies is essential to their wellbeing. Not only does it strengthen their heart and lungs, but also stimulates their mind and enhances communication between them.

A well-rounded fitness program can also help to prevent injury in older and young ponies. Start slowly with light work, then progress to more intense training if your pony is suitable.

To keep your pony fit and strong, try increasing his continuous trotting time by 10% every three or four rides. This will make him more resistant to heat stress and help reduce the likelihood of injury.

Finding the right horse fit can be a challenging task, but the rewards are usually worth all the effort! To ensure your horse doesn’t become injured while building strength and endurance, introduce new exercises and riding techniques gradually over several weeks or months. While this process may take some time, the rewards often far outweigh any difficulties!