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Race: The Shetland, small but mighty!

Beneath its mischievous appearance, the Shetland pony hides enormous potential that deserves to be exploited. More than just a pony, it can be suitable for children as well as adults, as long as you know how to get the best out of it. An athlete to rediscover!

A long time ago, in lands not so far away, small horses would have been stuck on an island after the ice retreated during the ice age. The climate there was harsh and cold, so their bodies adapted: they shrank and became more rustic. These were the Shetland Islands, which naturally forged the pony we know today. Small, stocky with abundant hair, it quickly becomes an indispensable part of the inhabitants of the island, who use it to transport loads.

His arrival in France

We will have to wait until the end of the 19and century and the rush to the coal mines to see the breeding of Shetland ponies explode. Its small size makes it an ally of choice for minors and it is slowly starting to be exported beyond English borders. The end of the mines leaves the inhabitants with their equines on their hands, so they will find a new use for it as a leisure pony. From then on everything is connected. In France, it will be necessary to wait until the 1950s and the rise of horse riding to see some ponies arrive from these northern islands. The creation and development, in the 1970s, of the ponies-club de France will contribute to developing its presence on our territory to meet the strong demand for riders. The original Shetland pony studbook has existed since the end of 19and century, it is one of the oldest equine studbooks. In France, it was born in 1966.

Pony yes, but full papers!

Attention, it would not be a question of confusing the Shetland with the first pony come. As Olivier Blanchet, President of the French Shetland Pony Association explains, “ we tend to call most small shetland ponies, but it’s a specific breed, it’s not a big story. It is not enough to have a small pony under 1m for it to be called shetland “. Breeders wishing to breed these ponies will have to be careful to respect the standards of the breed. Of course, there are always a few variants: some will be lighter for sport, while other heavier models will be more intended for traction. But basically, the base of the pony must remain the same, rustic. This is what makes the strength of this pony: forged by the elements of its island, its model is authentic, it has not benefited from human intervention.

School pony, but not only…

From an ally of minors, this pony quickly became the best friend of children, to whom it introduced horse riding. With a good pilot, these little horses are capable of wonders: “ There are ponies who jump 1 meter cheerfully in isolated obstacles with riders who hold the road. That’s also the difficulty, finding riders who know how to manage the pony’s potential. In dressage they are less numerous but every year we still see a few ponies indexed. », Details Olivier Blanchet. These miniature horses are versatile and can be used in all disciplines, in leisure and even in competition. Of course, it is above all on show jumping grounds that he shines the most. However, he is less and less seen only as the children’s pony: ” We have a lot of adults who compete in carriages, they are very powerful ponies who can easily tow 1 or 2 people in an adapted car. Depending on their morphology and their use, a shetland can easily tow up to three times its weight. If individuals have always used these ponies at home for leisure, seeing adults taking them out in competition is relatively recent.

At the Pirouettes breeding, in the Jura, we believe a lot in Shetland. For her pony club, Karine Boissard even decided to start breeding herself in 2008. The breeder emphasizes the development of competitions for the breed: “ At the beginning of the breeding competitions, we did not see what we see now, the breeders present their ponies at work, in particular the young breeders who want to go out in sporting events. » TACS (Test of Shetland Abilities and Behaviour) tests are being developed. These tests highlight their physical and behavioral aptitudes in order to show their abilities as leisure ponies. The ponies are presented in hand, mounted, in long reins, saddled or hitched. Karine tries as much as possible to run these events with her little students, a plus to show the availability and quality of Shetland dressage.

Identity record

Cut : The maximum height allowed is set at 107 cm.

Dress : All coats are allowed, except spotted ones like appaloosa or leopard.

Morphology: The Shetland is characterized by its hardiness, its abundant hair, its thick coat, its robust body as well as a developed skeleton and muscular mass. Its head is small, well-proportioned with a broad forehead and large, intelligent eyes. The back is strong, with a wide rib cage and strong, muscular loins.

Character : It is often said that they are very playful ponies. They are primarily intended for children, they are kind and cold-headed, while quite energetic in work.
Cradle: Shetland originates from the Scottish archipelago that bears its name, located off Scotland and Norway in the middle of the North Sea. This pony grazes there on the grass of the wild islands, swept by the icy winds, probably since the ice age.

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