The New Zealand

Shetland Pony Breeders' Society (Inc.)

The Society

The New Zealand Shetland Pony Breeders Society  Inc was established in 1979.

The aims of the Society are to:

  • Maintain the register of Purebred Shetland ponies in New Zealand
  • Promote the Shetland Pony
  • Provide information to breeders, owners and anyone interested in the Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony is the smallest of the British Native ponies.  They are native to the Shetland Isles off the Northern coast of Scotland, where they have roamed the hills for more than 2000 years. The Islands are frequently subjected to fierce gales, rain and sleet with temperatures little above freezing. Over the centuries, the ponies have evolved characteristics such as the ability to eat seaweed, salty grasses and even drink salt water. They also possess larger nasal cavities than other breeds, which has the effect of warming the freezing air before it reaches the lungs.


The Crofters on the Islands used the ponies to carry peat and for transport. They were an essential part of everyday life. The Shetland Pony is most renowned for their role as Pit Ponies in the coal mines of England. In 1870 Lord Londonderry founded the Londonderry Stud to breed ponies for the mines. Many ponies from this stud were sold to studs on the mainland and the ancestors of these ponies were exported all over the world, including New Zealand.


Today the breed is well established in New Zealand, with the Shetland Pony proving to be very popular with both children and adults. Shetland Ponies are known for their intelligence, wisdom and strength. It is often said that they may be small in stature, but have the courage and confidence of a horse many times their size.

2016 Versatility Day

Multi tasking at the AGM

The NZSPBS Steeplechase