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Shetland Pony

Equus Caballus

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

Woburn Safari Park is home to one Shetland Pony named Holly; she is jet black in colour and has an impressive thick, bushy mane. She shares a paddock with three donkeys; you will find Holly and her friendly companions on the Animal Encounters section. 

Shetland Isles
Open moorland.
7 to 11.2 hands, (1 hand is equal to 10 cm)
180 - 205 kg
Gestation Period
11 months
30 years
Widely bred in captivity.

Social structure

In the wild Shetland Ponies feed on pastures, eating everything they come across. Although this doesn’t mean they eat a lot – in winter the ponies that are kept in captivity require very little hay. They live together in groups of up to 30 individuals, spending most of their time feeding; they can graze for up to 22 hours a day. In captivity Shetland Ponies are generally gentle, good tempered and very intelligent by nature.


Shetland Ponies are herbivores. They eat grass, leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs and various other plants. In captivity they are fed on a diet of hay and grass and are also provided with a mineral salt block. They will lick the mineral salt block when they are in need of extra minerals.

Physical features

The Shetland Pony is a small variety of horse. It has a stocky, muscular body and has short, strong legs. Shetlands have wide spaced eyes, small and alert ears and long full manes and tails. They grow a thick double coat in winter to withstand the harsh weather; their summer coat should be smooth and shiny in appearance. The coat can come in a variety of colours, but the most common are shades of black and brown. 

Breeding behaviour

In late spring, a stallion finds mares that are ready to breed. Gestation lasts for about 11 months and one foal is born at the time when the surroundings are rich with vegetation. A healthy foal is able to stand up an hour after it is born. Foals are left with their mothers until they are 4-5 months of age, at which time they are weaned. 

Threats and conservation

The number of Shetland Ponies globally is unknown and they are not currently threatened with extinction. Nowadays, the Shetland Pony is widely known and bred in captivity in all parts of the world. They have gained popularity and are used in horse races as well as riding. 

Fun facts

Shetland Pony is the smallest breed of ponies. At the same time, they’re one of the strongest members of the horse family, by a strength-to-size ratio.

Equine terminology:

  • Mare - Female horse 4 years or older
  • Stallion - Male horse 4 years or older
  • Gelding - Castrated male
  • Foal - A horse up to 1 year of age
  • Colt - A male foal up to 4 years old
  • Filly - A female foal up to 4 years old