Shetland's capable of being Trail companion

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GoldenTree

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[SIZE=11pt]I’m interested in joining the world of Mini’s and Shetlands but I have a few questions. First scurry driving looks like a lot of fun but where can I watch and get more information about driving mini’s in general? I’d like to get some first hand training, discussion, and try it on for size so to speak. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=11pt]Another question, I do a lot of backcountry hiking and have pack goats that go with me mainly as companions but to take a little weight of my back too, I’m interested in the idea of adding a shetland to my string but how hardy are they? Are they sturdy enough to navigate rugged terrain through mountains, and could there hooves handle it? The trails I’m considering are ridden by horses, mules and donkeys so larger equines are capable. I know it’s an odd question but I’m throwing it out there to trainers, breeders, and enthusiast to gather information.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=11pt]Please no criticism or judgment, also I’m strictly speaking of shetlands, no donkey’s, mules, or riding mounts, for personal reasons. [/SIZE]
 

paintponylvr

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WELCOME TO THE FORUMs!!!

Hmmm....

Well, Shetlands originated on/in the Shetland Isles and there they still live out often in the wild - in the rocks, browsing/grazing much as goats do. Buffeted by the winds off of their coasts. The first shetlands imported to the USA often were used as "Pit Ponies" - the ponies that went into the mines and pulled the carts that were filled with coal.

Today's Shetlands in the USA are/can be different due to American's love to change/IMPROVE everything we touch. Many of today's Shetlands are bred too refined and "hot" and reactive making them pretty and suitable for the show ring but not for the task(s) that you describe. That said, there are still many breeders out there that have the heavier set, easily adaptable Shetland that will and can still do well in the setting you are talking about. Shetlands can carry more than the goats HOWEVER, they do not "bound" from rock to rock or platform to platform that a goat can/will. They will also eat differently than the goat does - possibly requiring different feed to be carried while you are packing out Besides using the canvas type bag packs, you can use the packsaddles sized for mini's and ponies - allowing for a much larger amount of supplies and eating stuffs. Most trails that a goat or any other equid can navigate can be navigated by a Shetland and a sound, healthy Shetland should have no problems with their hooves in such a situation.

Only you can decide what you are looking for in a walking companion. YES, Shetlands do well as hiking companions and there used to be several people on this forum that have had them for that use - even with the packs like you are suggesting.

We've never used ours quite that way - but have had children ride them (out on trail rides the pony not only carried a saddle and the youngster, but also either individual bottles of drink &/or saddlebags loaded with goodies and supplies for pitstops, clean up and snacks) - unfortunately I have no pictures of our purebred, smaller Shetlands with saddles/packs while trail riding. We have also used ours for "logging" (dragging tree limbs, cut tree trunks, brush) and pulling draft horse sized equipment (for short times) and other equipment sized more for them (ATV & small garden tools work well or custom made) - for dragging pastures, moving manure and plowing/disking for field planting prep.

Our Shetlands range in size from 36" to 44" at the withers in height.

Can I ask what state you reside in? We may be able to direct you towards owners that have appropriate Shetlands to visit.
 

Ryan Johnson

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Welcome to the forum


I have just had my shetland return from being on lease for the last two years as a lead line pony. Unfortunately the girl has outgrown him so he has come home until I can find a suitable home for him. He was used as a leadline out on the trails.

The health and fitness of a shetland would have to come into consideration and how much training into general fitness you are willing to put in. If these trails are quite rugged you will need to be sure that your companion is fit enough to handle it.

Generally the shetland has quite sturdy tough hooves but they will require farrier work on a regular basis.

Do you have any horse knowledge yourself ?
 

GoldenTree

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I do have previous horse experience with much bigger guys. After a nasty fall that left me with some life long injuries I have personally opted to stay on the ground, which is what is drawing me towards the smaller equines, I miss the language that is shared. You point a whip at a goat's hind quarters and they try to eat it. I suppose the big picture may be that I feel it necessary to justify adding another mouth to feed since thus far all the bodies on my farm have a job.(packing and carting)

I have heard of the history of the shetland ponies which is how I've come up with these questions but you hit the nail on the head paintponylvr, my confusion stems from the hot, delicate, arab like ponies that seem to be represented in my area, when I need a more traditional built and stocky, well rounded and level headed, 36"-40" pony. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. I'm located in Western Washington.

As for conditioning, I completely understand how important this is for all species in any sport or activity. I'm preparing my current pack string to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, most likely Oregon, and Washington. The california section seems to go great distance without water and I'm unsure if I want to bring my string so deep into the desert without a promised water source. Depending on the vegetation goats don't need to pack in any feed on the trail, but I know this is different for equines and I'm ok with that, I already purchase certified weed free feed anyways so it's no big deal, and I've found the really cute sawbuck's made for miniature horses and donkeys.

Thank you for responding! There isn't a lot of information out there and I really appreciate it.
 

Ryan Johnson

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Sorry to hear about your fall and the injuries you have been left with. Its hard to walk away from horses i completely understand and your very right there is that "Special Language"

Your Treks sound amazing and I think a Shetland would be your best option. Arab horses are well known for endurance here where I live.

best of luck with your decision
 

paintponylvr

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I have heard of the history of the shetland ponies which is how I've come up with these questions but you hit the nail on the head paintponylvr, my confusion stems from the hot, delicate, arab like ponies that seem to be represented in my area, when I need a more traditional built and stocky, well rounded and level headed, 36"-40" pony. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. I'm located in Western Washington.
Go to Cherry-Hill ponies!!! They have what you are looking for and if she doesn't, I bet she can help you locate what you are looking for. Right now she doesn't show any ponies for sale, but usually has some later in the year - after foaling.
 
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Northwolf

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Hi GoldenTree

I take my shetland who is a miniature stocktype (31") regularly to longer (up to 7 days) and shorter hiking trails. Mainly on alpine terrain, some of the trails aren't possible for riding horses. But I always lead him on a line, to keep him free-range would be too dangerous. Usually, he wears a selfmade packsaddle that is inspired by the Swiss Army pack saddle (I can upload some detailled pictures and a tutorial if you are interested). We also tried sawbuck style saddles, but they didn't work for him. The disadvantage of the sawbucks is that you're not able to adjust them completely.

He loves the trails, even when it's very difficult terrain and he has to climb. For the hooves, we rotate between different types of boots and barehoof. For being always without protection on his hooves, the terrain is too hard for longer hikes. He wears custom boots because it's very important that they fit perfectly for longer hikes to avoid injuries.

I think it's a question of fitness and training if a mini and/or a shetland can handle trails like that. So if your future mini is fit and does not have any health problems (also check if the mini have any problems with his respiratory system or lung), you would have a lot of fun taking it with you as a trail companion.
 
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