Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: American Shetland   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The American Shetland is an American small pony breed, which is often small enough to be considered a miniature pony. It should not be confused with the Shetland Pony (also known as "Shetland," for short,) because the two are completely different breeds.

The ancestors of the American Shetland are Shetland Ponies which were imported from Scotland to the USA during 1884 and 1885. These tiny Shetland Ponies gained the interest of many American breeders, who started to cross them with Hackney horses and ponies as well as with Welsh ponies. Therefore, in 1888, the American Shetland Pony Club was established with the aim of managing and developing this crossbreeding program.

During the first half of the 20th century, breeders continued to cross Shetland Ponies with Hackneys sand with Welsh ponies. The crossbred offspring were then crossed again with Hackneys, Welsh ponies, small Arabians, and small Thoroughbreds. The resulting breed, whose conformation was more similar to that of a small Hackney than to that of a Shetland, was seen as the American version of the Shetland pony, and was therefore called "American Shetland."

By the 1950s, the American Shetland was an established breed with a distinctive conformation, which was slim and showy (compared to that of the original Shetland Pony.) This made the American Shetland an ideal pony for halter and driving classes, and the breed became popular. Furthermore, many American Shetlands inherited the high knee-action and high-stepping trot of their Hackney ancestors, and were therefore ideal for driving classes. Today, most American Shetlands are used for halter and driving classes, and some of them are also used as mounts for small children.

There are four subtypes of American Shetlands, of which three are found in Horse Isle: the 'Foundation American Shetland' whose conformation is similar to the conformation that American Shetlands had back in the 1950s; the 'Modern American Shetland,' whose conformation and knee-action are similar to those of Hackney Ponies (see the 'Hackney' for more info); and the 'Classic American Shetland' whose conformation is somewhere in-between, and who has a regular knee-action. The fourth subtype, which is not found in Horse Isle, is the 'Modern Pleasure American Shetland,' which looks identical to the Modern American Shetland but lacks its high action.

American Shetlands come in all colors and patterns except for the following: dominant black, champagne, pearl, manchado, and leopard. They stand between 7hh and 11.2hh, with each subtype having its own height range. Ponies who are under 9.2hh are qualified to be registered as miniature ponies or horses.

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