The heritage of the Shetland pony in 9 amazing pictures

A string of ponies on Fetlar, one of the North Isles of Shetland

A string of ponies on Fetlar, one of the North Isles of Shetland

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Images show how the short, stout beast was central to island life.

It is thought that ponies first inhabited Shetland up to 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age.

An upturned boat makes the perfect shelter for these Shetlands. Ponies have existed on the islands since the Bronze Age with the small, stout Shetland  possibly a result of Celtic settlers crossing the southern European beast with an Oriental breed.

An upturned boat makes the perfect shelter for these Shetlands. Ponies have existed on the islands since the Bronze Age with the small, stout Shetland possibly a result of Celtic settlers crossing the southern European beast with an Oriental breed.

They have become on of Scotland’s most cherished breeds, recognised the world over for their cute faces and diminutive statures.

But as these pictures show these hardworking, loyal and docile animals could thrive in the toughest of terrains and were at the very heart of island existence.

The pictures are from the archive of The Pony Breeders of Shetland Association which works to preserve the breed and promote its charms around the world.

READ MORE: The short history of the Shetland Pony

Born survivors: Shetland ponies lived through harsh winters sometimes with little access to food but they do not grow significantly bigger when they have ample food at their disposal

Born survivors: Shetland ponies lived through harsh winters sometimes with little access to food but they do not grow significantly bigger when they have ample food at their disposal

Trusty transport: The ponies would be used to cart peat from the bogs to homes around the isles

Trusty transport: The ponies would be used to cart peat from the bogs to homes around the isles

Taking in hay: Shetland ponies were essential to crofting life and could carry out a number of tasks without fuss. It is said they could carry 9 stone in weight, despite being no more than 4ft tall

Taking in hay: Shetland ponies were essential to crofting life and could carry out a number of tasks without fuss. It is said they could carry 9 stone in weight, despite being no more than 4ft tall

Ponies being moved from the smaller islands to Shetland mainland, probably for a sale.

Ponies being moved from the smaller islands to Shetland mainland, probably for a sale.

Out to plough: Shetlands are the strongest of all the horse breeds and can easily pull double their body weight

Out to plough: Shetlands are the strongest of all the horse breeds and can easily pull double their body weight

Ponies were  fitted with a klibber and kishies - a harness and woven basket - ahead of work with these items still made on Shetland today.

Ponies were fitted with a klibber and kishies - a harness and woven basket - ahead of work with these items still made on Shetland today.

On the move in Fetlar with peat in their kishies. It is quite possible that a number of ponies have pulled together from a number of crofts to get the job done.

On the move in Fetlar with peat in their kishies. It is quite possible that a number of ponies have pulled together from a number of crofts to get the job done.

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