Beauty … Conformation … Versatility … Substance … Style. The Classic American Shetland embodies all of these qualities and more!
Classics (as Classic American Shetlands are often called) carry the ageless beauty and grace of a time-honored and well-crafted breed. Their heritage spans three centuries while their future is unlimited. The vaunted history of ASPC and its ponies date back to the 1800s when Shetlands were first imported into the United States from the Shetland Isles.
From the very beginning, those Shetlands were selectively bred to improve the pony and create a truly American breed. Today’s Classic American Shetland is a testament to the look, conformation and style honed in the American Shetland since those first days.
In general, Classic American Shetland Ponies are a refined version of both the British Shetland and their early American ancestors. With well-planned selective breeding and cultivation for more than 120 years, the result is an appealing pony that continues to grow in popularity. This breed is often regarded for their outstanding toplines, well-made bodies and refinement about the ears, head and throatlatch.
Classics will generally have more substance than the ultra-refined Modern and less animation. Still, Classics are never coarse, are usually exceptionally conformed and should move with beauty and style. Short, sharp erect ears, prominent eyes and a refined jaw all contribute to the Classic Shetland’s allure. Today, both stately, solid-colored Shetlands and flashy, spotted animals are both popular. Shetlands can be any color except appaloosa.
No American Shetland should exceed 46” at the withers, and Classics may fall well below this maximum. Early in their history, American Shetlands sometimes matured under the 38” height limit of today’s Miniature Horse and many continue to do so presently. At ASPC-rated shows, height divisions are offered to allow for appropriate competition.
By nature, the Classic American Shetland is often docile with a pleasing personality. Because of this temperament, these elegant but sturdy ponies are extremely versatile. Classics can be found in almost every equine role from pet to children’s leadline and riding mounts to school ponies to driving teams with four or more ponies up. They have been used successfully in therapeutic programs for the physically and mentally challenged as well. Of course, American Shetlands are equally at home in the show ring, dazzling along parade routes or just relaxing in their home pasture.
Larger Classics approaching the 46” limit are the perfect-sized starter pony for children. From their early history of pulling ore carts in coalmines, Shetlands have retained an innate driving ability, and their popularity as a driving pony for children and adults alike continues to expand - for pleasure at home, in the show ring or in competitive driving events.
In ASPC rated shows, you will see Classic American Shetlands compete at halter and under saddle. In harness, they show in pleasure driving and roadster as well as in draft hitches. They can excel in halter obstacle and are great fun in costume classes. Whatever the challenge, the ever-appealing Classic Shetland Pony is ready to shine.
While these ponies are hardy and require the same general health care as a larger horse, their feed and stabling requirements are in proportionately smaller amounts. Owning a Classic Shetland does not require expensive equipment; your equipment can range from the barest essentials such as adequate space, shelter and nutrition coupled with simple grooming tools and a halter to a bridle and saddle to the harness equipment necessary for a hitch of multiple ponies or the elegance of an antique carriage. With Classics and your own personal approach, you always have choices!
Today’s Classic American Shetland is a versatile pony with the temperament and personality to become a lifelong friend. For that reason, along with their beauty and their unique and long history, the Classic division is growing in popularity and will undoubtedly continue to flourish as more people meet this versatile and beautiful pony.