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Use and characteristics of Shetlands
The first impression of most Shetland ponies is that they are “typical Thelwells”, tiny creatures with attractive heads and a mass of full, flowing mane and tail. Their bodies are solid and round, set on short legs that are relatively fine yet very strong and clean of feather, giving them a surprisingly elegant appearance. People who buy a Shetland soon discover those little legs can move too, as Shetlands carry the C-gene for speed. While black is a foundation colour for registered stock, it’s also permissible to sell a Shetland with grey, chestnut, bay, brown or part colouring, though spotted coats are not allowed. Registered stock must also meet the height standards of 7 hands (70 cm/28 in) high to a permitted maximum of 10 ½ hands (107 cm/42 in) high when fully grown. Shetlands were used for centuries as pack ponies on the islands, carrying local produce such as peat and seaweed for fertiliser. They were also used for driving and for ploughing the areas of land that could be cultivated. Relative to their size, Shetlands are one of the most powerful breeds of pony.