The Gotland Pony breed is an ancient Swedish pony said to be descended from Tarpens but DNA indicates otherwise. The Gotland originated on the island of Gotland off the South-Eastern coast of Sweden following the last ice age. It is the only native breed to Sweden.
Another name for this breed is the Gotland Russ which means a riding horse or charger. The Gotland originally were a breed that roamed wild on the island, but today there is a semi-feral herd living on a 650-acre area in Lojsta moor.
In the early 1800s logging and cultivation began to lessen the population. By 1870, around 200 ponies per year were sold to Europe. These ponies were used in the coal mines of Great Britain and Belgium. To avoid the extinction of the breed, Sweden formed a society and the Lojsta moor ponies became protected.
Today, Gotland Ponies are bred in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and North America.
The Gotland Pony has a slim body with sloping quarters and the tail sets low. The average height of the pony is between 47 and 52 inches. It is a strong breed with hard hooves allowing it to be ridden by children and smaller adults. The coat is generally bay, chestnut, black, buckskin or palomino. Gray, dun and pinto are other colors of the Gotland but are not accepted for registration. Bay or black is the most preferred color.
It is the most common breed of Sweden and used for a variety of tasks. Riding schools often use the Gotland and is a popular riding pony for children. The pony is also used in harness racing, show jumping, dressing and eventing, The Gotland is easy to train and a very quick learner.
Image Caption: Gotland Pony. Credit: Sallis Lindqvist/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)