The American Shetland Pony


The ASPC American Shetland Pony Club recognizes four divisions of American Shetland ponies, each with their own specific Standard of Excellence and presentation style in the show ring.

Foundation ~ smaller, bigger bodied and heavier boned
Classic ~ well conformed halter type of beauty and style
Modern Pleasure ~ pleasing disposition and movement that is animated, collected and well balanced
Modern ~ extreme hackney type motion and spirited personality

The predominant types of American Shetland that has been imported to Australia are the Classic American Shetland and the Foundation American Shetland.

Majestic Farm Nightmare is the only Modern Pleasure American Shetland currently in Australia – which makes him truly unique.

Learn about the differences between the divisions of American Shetlands below.

The Divisions explained

Foundation Shetland

The Foundation Shetland division of the registry was founded by those members wanting to preserve the type of pony shown in the glory days of the 1950’s.You may recall the fancy, stockier Shetland parading through the state fairs and backyards across America in those years…and many got their start with those ponies. The pony of the 1950s wasn’t exactly what stepped off the boats from the Shetland Islands but is a lovely blend of selective breeding from those original imports that became a household word in America.

In comparison to the Classic Shetland, the foundation pony is generally smaller, bigger bodied and heavier boned. They have shorter, as well as thicker, necks and are shorter legged than the Classic Shetland. A pretty head with small ears and large, expressive eyes exemplify foundation pony qualities that breeders aspire to.

Foundation Shetlands are shown in as natural a state as possible. While they are clipped, clean and polished; artificial appliances are not allowed. They are versatile, useful and appreciated by breeders and owners who take special pride in the preservation of the Golden Era Shetland.

Classic Shetland

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 fancy, spotted animals are both popular. Shetlands can be any color except appaloosa.

Source: American Shetland Pony Club, Inc

Modern Pleasure Shetland / Nightmare

Majestic Farm Nightmare is a stunning example of a Modern Pleasure Pony. He has is a 3 x USA Congress Reserve National Grand Champion Modern Pleasure Stallion.

Modern Pleasure ponies are more extreme especially in movement (but also in type) then a Classic Pony.

Their gaits are generally collected and balanced but display less extreme action than the Modern Roadster pony. Emphasis is placed on a pleasing disposition. This makes them a wonderful alternative for those newer to ponies who or who enjoy a refined, nicely moving pony without the more extensive work required of a Modern Roadster Pony.

Modern Shetland

Today’s Modern American Shetland ponies combine the beauty and hardiness of the Classic American Shetland, with the excitement and animation of a Hackney pony. The result is simply elegance in motion.

This sophisticated pony with its extreme action and spirited personality is truly at home in the show ring. Modern Shetland ponies are shown in two height categories: under 43″ at the wither and 43″ -46″ at the wither. They excel in performance classes including roadster, fine harness and pleasure driving.

Their abilities don’t stop there, however. As a general rule, although extremely spirited, most Moderns are also willing and extremely trainable. A well-trained Modern Shetland can not only excel in the exciting performance divisions noted above, but can make a superb and people-pleasing, all-around athlete. Today, beyond harness and roadster, you can find Moderns as an athletic responsive mount for a child, excelling in Liberty, costume, in hand obstacle, or going over fences in the popular pony jumper division.

A good headset, superb carriage and high action most often define a great Modern American Shetland performance or halter pony. Modern Shetlands are a thrill to watch and even more exciting to own and show. They are often a favorite of converts with owners from the Saddlebred, Arabian, Morgan and Hackney breeds.