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Shetland pony

Equus caballus caballus shetland


This miniature horse is an ancient breed seen for over 2,000 years. The Shetland pony originates from the island of Shetland, which is found off the coast of Scotland.

The Shetland Islands have a very harsh, unforgiving climate, which is why the Shetland pony has developed a thick coat.

Belfast Zoo’s farmyard is home to four Shetland ponies.

Animal class


Diet - Herbivore
It grazes on grass in the wild. When the ground is covered in snow, it will paw at it to get at the grass and moss. It may also climb down to the beach to feed on seaweed.

This pony can be between three and four feet tall.

The Shetland pony originally comes from Scotland but because of its popularity as a pet and working horse, it is now found all over the world.

The Fell Pony and the Exmoor Pony are both endangered, but the RBST has not as yet given the Shetland pony endangered status.

Because they are often crossed with Hackney Ponies, the classic Shetland Pony breed is becoming rarer.

Current population
In 1822 it was estimated there were 10,000 ponies on the Shetland Islands but, by the 1890s, this figure was down to only 4000. Today on the islands, there are approximately 1,000 ponies.

Zoo population
There are approximately 330 of these ponies in zoos around the world.