Shetland ponies are highly intelligent, very cute, full of character, and lots of fun to own. But be warned! That intelligence has a price! Here are some facts to consider before owning a Shetland pony.

Things you must know before owning a Shetland pony
Shetland ponies are constantly curious
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

I have heard many versions of the same story. Well-meaning parents. With no previous experience of owning horses, want to buy a Shetland pony. And they run into problems.

With a little forward planning. This does not have to be the case.

1. Fencing: Shetland Ponies are Escape Artists

Even experienced pony owners can have a little trouble keeping their “little trouble” on the correct side of the fence.

What your fence looks like to your Shetland pony is important. If ponies think they can get out. Ponies will.

Use at least 3 strands of electric fencing. With at least one strand being the plain metal kind as it packs more of a punch.

This might sound cruel. But believe me — after the 99th time of collecting your little pony from your neighbor’s prized rose garden. It will convert you.

Make sure the gap between the strands is not too wide. They will step between them. Head through. One front foot. Hoppity hop. Then the rest of the Shetland.

I have also seen Shetlands take a deep breath and go for it. Pain be dammed! If this is the case, try putting the pony in a field with a hedge. And the same electric fencing set-up.

And because your Shetland pony is a diminutive chappie, don’t think the fence does not have to be high. With the correct motivation, they can JUMP! Mine jumped a 1m high fence once!

2. Feeding your Shetland Pony

Your Shetland is not your lawnmower. These ponies evolved in the harsh climates of the Shetland Isles. They thrive on very little.

Obesity is an enormous problem for Shetlands. Unless your pony is in very hard work there will be no need to feed concentrates.

Hay, and grass that is not too rich, is enough. And a mineral block.

A track system is an excellent way to limit grazing. If you have ponies on the same track who do not suffer from obesity, they can eat off the best of the grass first.

3. Horses and Ponies are Herd Animals

I am not overstating when I say to keep a herd animal alone is an act of cruelty. You MUST consider this before owning a Shetland pony.

Things you must know before owning a Shetland pony
Fred the Clydesdale and Piper the Shetland Pony
Photo by Isabelle Young

Do any of your neighbors own horses? Would they mind a little Shetland pony coming to live? Or you could consider getting 2 ponies instead of one.

Things you must know before owning a Shetland pony
7 Facts to Know Before Owning a Shetland Pony
Photo by Michal Vrba on Unsplash

4. Treat Your Shetland Like a Pony

Your Shetland is a pony. Your Shetland is not a dog. Nor a toy.

The Shetland pony has a nickname. The Shitland. Named for their reputation as being headstrong and stubborn. But their typical character is more gentle. They are friendly by nature. Their poor behavior is created by humans.

They need boundaries (Not the ones in the field). I know they are cute. Thus, people let their pony get away with being naughty. But you are creating problems for yourself. And creating an unhappy pony.

5. Shetland Ponies Live a Long Time

Well into their thirties. Unless you’re ready for a lifelong commitment, don’t get a Shetland pony. Just like any other animal companion, you must consider how you will care for them in the long run.

6. Shetland Ponies are Intelligent

Put a fence across your field with gaps in it. Place a bucket of food on the other side. Put a horse, a pony, and a Shetland pony in the side without the bucket. Guess who finds a gap first?

I read about this somewhere years ago. I tried it with mine. Two horses stared at the bucket. The Welsh Mountain pony got all giddy.

The Shetland pony looked up and down the fence. Spotted a gap. And wandered through to the bucket. Amazing!

7. Owning a Shetland Pony is FUN!!

Shetland ponies can do everything the big boys can do. But with a fluffy, cuddly panache. Check out the videos below for proof!


Are you considering owning a Shetland pony? Are there any other tips you think people should know before making this commitment? Let us know in the comments section below!