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.