The exact history of the Highland Pony is uncertain; despite records indicating it first emerged in the 1880’s, there are suggestions that it existed much earlier. In the 16th century, for instance, horses such as the Percheron were taken to the Scottish Highlands and it is possible these contributed to its early bloodline.
Although two types of Highland Pony existed in its early days, a lighter pony and a heavier one that was native to the mainland, the two types have since integrated and the distinction is no longer recognised. Having evolved in the Highlands where the weather is bleak and changeable, the breed boasts ruggedness and resilience, and is usually perfectly fine without shoeing.
Because of the Highland’s strength, easy temperament and sure-footedness, it has always been a popular horse in driving and agriculture, and today is favoured as a leisure horse for everyday riding and trekking.
The native Scottish horse is characterised by a below average height of 13-14.2 hands, a stocky, well developed body, broad hooves and feathered fetlocks. Colouring is usually a shade of dun (yellow, cream, oatmeal, fox etc), or grey, black, bay or chestnut.
The Highland Pony is quite a rare breed, with an estimated 5,500 in the world today.
Highland ponies are the most wonderful breed, however, they are very intelligent and require consistent and firm handling. They can have a go at anything, I have competed in showing, show jumping, eventing, dressage, trec and hunter trials mounted on Highland ponies. I have also enjoyed hunting, horse camp and lots of hacking with them, they really are 'the versatile breed'.