The heritage of the Shetland pony in 9 amazing pictures

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

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

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

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

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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.

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.

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.

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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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.