Fanciers of Shetlands in the United States began importing hardy little ponies from the Shetland Isles and Europe in the late 1800s. Immediately, the earliest owners and breeders embarked on a journey to improve the quality of stock by selectively breeding. In doing so, they established a truly unique American pony. Today's American Shetland and all its divisions are a testament to the vision of those pioneers who sought to create beautiful, elegant and well-made ponies capable of thrilling with their performance and animation while demonstrating the work ethic and stamina of their ancestors.
The American Shetland Pony Club, Inc., (ASPC) was established in 1888 to govern the burgeoning interest in Shetlands in the United States. It is one of this country's oldest equine governing bodies. Registry founders wanted to establish the purity of the stock and to maintain a reliable record of pedigrees and transfers for the American Shetland Pony. ASPC has also worked to promote its ponies of the years as well.
In addition to championing and advancing the American Shetland, the ASPC established other breeds and divisions under its auspices that complement its original vision and goals. That original vision is realized through the following American Shetland divisions: Modern, Modern Pleasure, Classic and Foundation Classic. Modern American Shetlands are the culmination of 120-plus years of breeding for refinement, animation and big motors in a smaller package. Modern Pleasure Shetlands embody some of the pizzaz and style of Moderns in a slightly less extreme and lower maintenance form. Classic American Shetlands are a refined version of both their American ancestors as well as the British Shetland. Foundation American Shetlands are a beautiful yet hardy pony that most resemble the original Shetland Ponies imported from the isles.
Over the years, some Shetland breeders developed other versatile ponies by crossing American Shetlands with other breeds. The ASPC's Harness Show Pony in the mid-1900s promoted animated driving animals and gave recognition to those first American Shetland crossbreds. After a hiatus of several decades, that division was reinstituted as today's American Show Pony Registry (ASPR). The ASPR provides a niche for dynamic larger Shetlands, smaller Hackneys and the crosses between Hackneys and ASPC-registered Shetlands.
As further testimony to the overall versatility of this small equine group, ASPC is also home to the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR), the oldest of all Miniature Horse associations.
Truly, the American Shetland Pony Club, Inc., offers something for every small equine lover, especially those who appreciate game driving partners. Hardiness, size, versatility, willingness and aptitude make American Shetlands, American Miniature Horses and American Show Ponies ideal candidates to pull a buggy...whether that is a sleek roadster sulky, a two-horse wagon, a beautiful carriage or a cart suitable for pleasure drives through the park or events of endurance.