A Shetland Pony is probably one of the most interesting horse breeds out there. When children see a Shetland Pony, they immediately want one. When adults see them, they want one too, but they may not admit it. But everyone loves Shetland ponies.
Where do Shetland ponies come from? They originated from the Shetland Islands of Scotland. They can subsist on very little food and have been used as pack horses since the 1850s. England imported some as did the United States.
It was in the United States that superior breeds of Shetland Ponies began to be produced. These new breeds are the ones we are most familiar with as children’s pets.
American Shetlands are not like the Shetland ponies from which they are descended. Scottish Shetland Ponies were a very woolly breed, while the American Shetland Pony is more like a miniature horse. There are two types of Shetland Pony, the Classic and the Modern American Shetland.
A registered American Shetland cannot be taller than 46 inches. Shetland ponies are not measured by “hands” like other horses. Although the classic is more directly related to and not bred to other horse breeds, the ones you see today are not like the Shetland ponies of the 19th century.
Enough history, this article is to help you learn what it takes to care for your pony if you decide to get your own Shetland Pony.
Your Shetland Pony, for the most part, needs the same grooming as any other horse. They need to be washed, combed, and cared for just like you would any pet. They need regular vaccinations, deworming and veterinary care like all horses.
The only thing I can say that you might want to pay more attention to is your Shetland Pony’s feet. They require more care. Miniature horses are a bit more finicky in that area than their larger cousins. This requires daily care, so if you’re thinking of getting your own Shetland Pony, keep in mind that it comes with responsibility for its care.
Here are some foot care tips for your Shetland Pony.
Choosing your pony’s legs is one of the most important things you will do for your Shetland Pony. You may have to do this for an active pony several times a day. You should check your pony’s feet before riding each time. Make sure there is no debris caught in their hooves.
You will need to purchase a hoof catcher. It is a sharp curved tool made especially for this task. Always use the pick pointing away from you as you should with any sharp object or tool. You will also need a hoof brush. Later in this article I will tell you how and when to use each tool. The other item you will need is hoof oil. You can most likely buy it at your local feed store. If not, ask your vet.
Failing to check can result in serious trouble for your Shetland Pony. The irritation caused by even the smallest pebble can lead to infection and injury. Think about how it feels to have a stone in your shoe, and then multiply that by ten.
As soon as you are done riding your Shetland Pony, you should check your feet again. And of course you have to cool them down after riding and brushing. The more you take care of your Shetland Pony, the more they will take care of you and the more time they will be around for you to enjoy.
As with any horse, your Shetland Pony should be on a leash while you check its feet. Most horse groomers have a method of doing things. You and your horse benefit from this. You benefit from having a routine that helps you remember to do everything you need to do. Your Shetland Pony benefits from knowing what to expect.
I work from front to back, taking the time to gently rub the horse’s front calf as I speak sweetly to him. Remember, for a horse or pony, raising its leg and standing on only three legs is not a natural act. They need to trust you. And you need them to trust you and not try to kick you out.
When you think they’re ready, use a command and grab the leg firmly to lift it up. Lean your shoulder toward them as you do this and they’ll get the message. Your horse or pony will get used to the command associated with raising the leg and it will get easier over time.
You have to be the boss, so your grip and determination must be solid. However, if your pony resists dramatically, back off and try again, reassuring him with your voice as you go. Eventually they will learn that you are not going to hurt them.
First check if your pony’s hoof is hot or cold. If it feels cool to the touch, all is well. If you feel hot, then there is a problem. You should contact your vet in this case. Don’t groom your pony’s feet if it feels hot there. Wait until the vet can take a look.
Next, check your pony’s shoes if she has any. Make sure they fit snugly, that there are no nails sticking out, and that their hooves haven’t started to grow over the shoes. Contact a local farrier to shoe your pony and have it checked as needed or every 2 months to trim your pony’s hooves. Also keep in mind that your pony needs a qualified farrier to trim its hooves, even if your pony doesn’t have shoes on.
Now, if the hoof was cold, use the hoof pick working from heel to toe. This works best. Any debris that is lodged in the hull must be removed. Do a good job with this and your pony will thank you. Never use the helmet pick on the sensitive part of the helmet called the frog.
This is where that hoof brush I mentioned earlier comes into play. Use it to gently brush the sensitive area of the hoof, but with enough pressure to remove dirt and debris there. Wetting the brush can help remove more debris and will also help protect your Shetland Pony’s hoof from cracking.
Speaking of moisture, did you remember to get that hoof oil I mentioned? I hope so because after you’re done picking up and brushing your pony’s hooves, you’ll need to apply hoof oil. This oil is made to protect your pony’s hooves from cracking. Use it on the outside and inside of the helmet.
You can do this as you do with each hoof or do each thing separately, whatever routine you have. Just remember to do everything in the same order each time. Get your pony used to what you are going to do next and you may find him raising his hoof in anticipation of what you are about to do or doing it only on command.
I hope this article has helped you realize the care you should take with your Shetland Pony. If you don’t already own one of these beautiful creatures and are thinking about getting one, I hope this article helps you understand what care your new Shetland Pony will need.