Needs & Costs

What is needed to enjoy these wonderful pets.

To keep a couple of these lovely ponies you would need a paddock with at least 1 acre of grass land with a shelter or stable if possible and clean fresh water must be available. They are relatively low cost to keep, eating grass when available or good hay. (Ponies are much happier if they have a companion so it is best to have two if possible).

Cost of keeping a couple of ponies.

The cost to keep a couple of miniature Shetland ponies per week is as follows: - If not on good grass then one miniature pony would eat just one or two bales of hay per week at £4 - £6 per bale. The ponies would need to have their feet clipped three or four times a year which costs about £10 - £15 each time. They would need worming regularly at twelve week intervals depending on the product. This costs about £3 - £4 each time as a £12- £16 syringe will do four little ponies. (One syringe will do four Shetland's or one four times). Veterinary costs are rare if you look after your ponies well.

So total cost of keeping a Shetland pony for a year is approximately £140 - £200 excluding vet fees which are rare. This is actually cheaper than keeping most dogs if you have a large garden or some grassland. 

How we monitor the pregnant mares

Always watch your mares 24 hours a day in the last month prior to foaling.

Shetlands are much more prone to having some problems than larger horses.
We use CCTV to watch the mares in the stables and the barns.

We have cameras in all the stables which are linked to all the TVs in the house.
Darren watches the ponies at foaling time from early evening until the early hours of the morning.

When a foal is coming Darren tends to be there to sort it out, sometimes two or three times a night.

I do not know how we keep it up but it is very rewarding when we succeed and save foals that would have died had we not been there.

I estimate that I save about 60% of the foals by being there and acting to save the foals as necessary.

With regard to foaling monitors, we have tried most and they all have their faults which have cost lives, we now choose to use our eyes and cameras with the odd foaling alarm used as a backup.

Actual foaling tips

The gestation time for a horse is approximately 11 months, or 340 days but in Shetlands it can be as early as 315 days, we have found that 326 days would be a good average. It is best to be in attendance at the foaling’s because the mare may have a problem and you can frequently help them and save the foal, mare, or both. We give our mares a tetanus injection one month before foaling. This also gives the foal immunity which is important.
You need to have all the preparations made and ready to go about 2 weeks before the first birth is expected; you never know when it might happen early. Have a clean stable prepared with clean, dry straw bedding. We bring the mares in about 2 weeks before giving birth so they are comfortable and settled. Sometimes we let them run in the yard or paddock during the day when we can still watch them as many of them will give birth in daylight hours.

We make up a birthing kit to carry us through the season. This consists of:

  • Tail wraps.
  • A small bucket for warm water and Hibiscrub and a clean cloth to clean mare's vulva and bag.
  • Purple spray or Iodine spray to put on the umbilical stump.
  • Micralax Enema to give to foal after birth if needed to help get rid of the meconium or first stool.
  • Clean towels to dry off the foal.
  • Hibiscrub disinfectant to clean your hands and arms.
  • Lubrel lubricant.

There are some signs to watch for signalling that a birth is imminent. The mare’s rear end around the tail will go soft as the area starts to relax. The vulva will start to lengthen as the mare dilates. The mare's teats will sometimes wax up 12 to 24 hours before foaling. A small bead of waxy milk will appear. The mare may stop eating, be restless, getting up and down and rolling to get the foal in position. She may start to make a few sharp movements looking around at her belly. She may sweat when very near to foaling. A bubble will appear from the vulva, or the water sac may break. Any or all of these things might be noticed and should be taken as a sign of an imminent birth.

If you do not have cameras and keep going to the stable to check on the mare then you will need to be whisper quiet as a mare can and will stop foaling even with just one minute to go if she senses danger, this is why very few foaling’s are ever witnessed without surveillance cameras.

When the mare lay's down and starts to get her contractions, this is when you can move in with her to help. You need to be sure she is not lying against the wall so that it is easier for you to check that everything is coming alright; minis are small enough to pull around to a better position.

We usually help to pull the foal out once it is coming correctly and especially on a first timer, we have found in the past that the mares sometimes rest while the foal is half way out and this is no good for the foal if there is prolonged pressure on the chest or umbilical cord.

Be sure to get the sac off the foals’ head immediately so it can breathe.

When possible let the foal lie for a minute or so with the umbilical cord attached as often blood is still being pumped into the foal for a short period before the umbilical stump seal's ready for the detachment when mum gets up. If the cord breaks too quickly and blood is flowing out of the foals’ umbilical stump you must put pressure on it quickly with your fingers for a minute or so to allow the valve to close, then spray the area with iodine.

Foals range in size at birth from 12” to 28”, weighing from 12 to 29 lbs. After the foal is delivered, both mare and foal may rest for a few minutes. We usually move the foal to be in front of the mare after a couple of minutes so she can lick it dry and start bonding with it, but only do this if the umbilical cord has broken. If the cord is still intact leave them alone as long as they will lay there. When the mare stands, the cord with come away from the foal cleanly, this is the time to spray the umbilical stump with the purple spray or iodine spray. If the sac is still hanging from the mare tie it up in a knot to keep her from walking on it and to help it come out of the mare clean. Never pull on it to get it out. If the mare hasn't passed it in about three or four hours you will need to call the vet. Always check the afterbirth to be sure none was left in the mare, or save it for your vet to check.

After all the business of birthing is over, then it is time to imprint the foal. We sit down in the pen with the mare and foal. We rub the entire body, with a towel and our hands; this helps to desensitize the foal and helps it to bond with us as well as its mum.

The foal will then soon stand on its own start to search for the teat. We never interfere at this time as it can confuse the foal. We leave nature to happen. The foal needs to drink the colostrum from the mare within ideally the first few hours so that it gets immunity to all the nasty bacteria and viruses. If after maybe four hours the foal has not found the teat or has started sucking on the walls, you need to take action as shown below

Foal not suckling

Check the mare to see if she is still well bagged up, if the foal has suckled you can usually tell because she will be more comfortable and the foal will be settled for a while. If you think that the foal has not sucked yet, then we milk some colostrum from the mare and give it to the foal by a small 5ml syringe squirted into the foals mouth.

We give the foal as much as we can until it is happy and settled then we leave the mare and foal for another two or three hours knowing that the foal has had its colostrum. We usually find that this first un-natural feed will give the foal an amazing boost of energy so that it will usually be able to find the teat after a short sleep.

If this does not work then we milk the mare a little and start lying on the floor with our arm under the mare with a little syringe full of milk, one of us guides the foal to the syringe and when latched on we guide the foal to the teat. It is tricky work but it does usually work. If it does not, then you need to keep milking the mare and feeding the foal by syringe. We have never had any success at getting a foal to suckle an artificial teat on a bottle.

As the foal gets stronger it will eventually find the teat itself by the second day.

If not, then the foal may have a problem with its sucking reflex or short tongue or its swallowing reflex or something else. Veterinary advice is needed now.


In brief if you see a bloody liver coloured bubble coming out of your foaling mare, be ready to slit it straight away and get the foal out as fast as you can because it is suffocating.

In a normal foaling the first thing that you see is a fairly translucent bubble usually with a front foot followed very closely by the other front foot and nose. If instead of seeing this cloudy clearish bubble you see a red bag that looks like liver or velvety textured, that is the placenta which should have ruptured allowing the amniotic sac to emerge from the vulva first.

This occurs usually only if the mare has been in hard labour for a while and the placenta due to the terrific forces of contractions has separated from the uterus. Once that happens the foal is no longer getting oxygen through the umbilical cord, but instead is starting to die or suffocate. This happens sometimes if the foal is mal positioned and the straining of the mare finally separates it, or can be caused by the mare's being fed with haylage infected with an endophyte (type of mold) that causes tough placenta and other foaling problems. It can also be caused by some trauma to the mare such as being kicked very hard or some other disturbance to the cervical area.

When you see a red bag, the first thing is to quickly open it and it is very difficult to do by hand, so use a sharp knife to slit this bag. Don't worry about sanitation, just worry about speed. Then try to feel how the foal is presented and get it out as quickly as possible.

If you get the foal out very quickly you may be able to save it, but if the placenta has been separated too long the foal may be born dead. We have saved many foals by being fast and ready for problems. Again only full camera surveillance works with someone watching all the time.

Sometimes a saved foal will still die later if it was starved of oxygen for two long. Apparently retardation can progress quickly although at first they seem normal. Some of them would fall asleep easily and stay asleep too long. This is sometimes called "Sleepy foal".

Red bag foaling's are not so common, they can sometimes affect many ponies in many breeding studs in certain years so the weather, grass and feed can all cause this problem occasionally.

Leg back

Note: Do not panic, if you know what to do it is fairly easy to correct. If you have a leg and a nose coming ok, without bursting the white bubble try to feel for the other leg. If it is not there then cut the bag and feel again with lubrel on your hand and arm. Do not let the whole head come out without both the legs being in front of the nose or you will have a dead foal and ruined mare. This can sometimes be difficult if the mare is pushing hard, you just have to get stuck in and push the foal back in as hard as you can, sometimes you will then feel the foot pop forward. If it does then pull it forward to be in front of the nose with the other leg but not equal to the other leg as the thick leg joints need to come staggered.

If the foot does not come forward as you push the foals nose back into mums tummy then just keep pushing until your whole arm is at full stretch inside the mare, usually the feet pop forward at this point, if they don’t then there will now be enough room in the tummy to hook your middle finger around a knee joint to pull the leg or legs forward. Once you are happy that the feet are in front of the nose pull your arm out and let the mare push the foal out if she still has the energy.

If it has been a long time messing about you may need to try to pull the foal out yourself by gripping the front legs inside the mare and pulling it out as she contracts. Sometimes a foaling rope can help but we have rarely had to use it.

Head back

As with leg back you will feel to see if everything is coming ok. If you ever feel two ears or whatever you feel feels wrong, I have learned to just push the foal right back in again. This may not be correct as I am not a vet but it usually works for me. One the foal is back in the larger tummy area it is easier to manipulate the foal until you find the feet and the nose.

I once had a foaling where I could not make out what I was feeling, everything was a blob, we called the vet and to my surprise he put his arm in and pulled the foal straight out. I was amazed. He later told me that the fetal sac was around the foal and when he put his arm in he knew straight away what this was by experience and pierced the sac with his carefully sharpened fingernail which he keeps during foaling season. The foal was born dead and the vet said that it had died prematurely which is why it ended up in a tangled ball.

Delivering the Breach Presentation Foal

We have only once had this problem and we lost the foal at that time.

Grass Management

Ideally to ensure the wellbeing of your ponies you need to have good, weed and ragwort free grass. Ideally horses also like clover and mixed herbs in the grass but if possible not buttercups.

A cheap way to clear most weeds is to use a product called Agretox 50 to spray the land with a sprayer on a tractor or to use Grazon 90 if using a back pack sprayer. Well managed grass land can produce much more good grass eating than badly managed land. We have found that the regular use of 25.5.5. Fertilizer applied twice during the growing season works miracles. It is important to make sure that the land has a pH of 5.6 to 5.9 as grass grows better at this level.

It is also best to get your soil tested for mineral deficiency; we did this and found that our soil was lacking magnesium which horses need. We have solved this problem by the use of a relatively cheap product called Grass track which costs about £12 a bag which is enough for an acre of land per year.

The regular use of a chain harrow or tine harrow are recommenced as they bruise the grass and loosen the surface of the soil making the grass gets denser which then helps to suppress the weeds. If weeds are a major problem in midsummer, then it is best to cut them using a topper. If you only have a few acres of land, then a local farmer will usually perform these tasks for you for an appropriate fee which is usually much less than you think.

Buying Help

If you are the sort of person that would like your life to be fulfilled with something special maybe like owning a pony or foal then try it.

Some very useful information to help you on buying a good Shetland pony.

  1. Beware when buying a pony if you or the owner cannot quietly walk up to it in the middle of a field and put a head collar on it.
  2. Beware when buying a pony from an auction; ask the seller lots of questions to try to make sure that you know what you are buying. Ask for recommendations from someone else who knows the pony. There are many breeders that now "farm" these ponies and then round them up at sale time, fit a headcollar and sell them cheap. The unsuspecting buyers of these terrified ponies or foals think that they have a bargain until they let them out in a field and then cannot catch them again.
  3. If small size is important to you then never accept a ponies height, even when written on a passport or sales list. Always take your own measurements from the highest point of the withers at about the 9th - 11th vertebrae to the floor using a measuring tape or stick. You may sometimes find that most ponies are not as small as the owners say they are.
  4. Always check the passport markings against the ponies to make sure that it is the right pony (All ponies should have a Shetland Pony Stud Book Society or (SPSBS) passport). This is now more important than ever with DNA testing now being so common. Please check out our links to the SPSBS for lots of other information about the breed and the showing of these wonderful ponies.
  5. A discerning breeding-buyer should buy for good conformation and good bloodlines firstly; colour is or should be of secondary consideration having acquired the correct quality bloodline. However, if coloured ponies are your preferred interest because they sell for more money then please be aware that it is very difficult to breed good quality well marked coloured ponies and so there are much less of them around which is why they cost more.
  6. We have found that most good owners and breeders will have their ponies inoculated for Tetanus every two years and this will show in their passports. If owners are prepared to pay the small cost for this, it usually means that they have loved and cared for their pony properly. The best owners and breeders will sometimes go much further by regular worming and even regular flue and strangles jabs.
  7. Be prepared to pay a little more for something special, at the end of the day you really do get what you pay for if you follow these rules.
  8. Follow your instinct, if you like the people that you are dealing with and get there trust then go with it.

Over the years we have learned a lot about keeping and caring for Shetland ponies. We have read many books and sought all the information that is available on the internet.

Surprisingly we have found that there is actually very little information that is relevant to Shetland's.

Worming & Feet

The most common problem in horses these days is caused by the Small Red worm (Cyathostomin). This small worm is now the most common cause of gastro problems in miniature horses which end up resulting with Hyperlipeamia which is very serious and life threatening. All miniature breeders need to be aware of the fact that these worms are the most common problem worm around and that they need to be controlled effectively and regularly.

The best way to control most types of worms these days is to use Equest horse wormer to rid your horses of most normal worm infestations, twice a year and then use the Equest Pramox wormer twice each year to control all the usual worms but to include the tape worms which most other wormers do not control.

These wormers are the most effective available but they need to be administered carefully as they can easily kill a pony if they are given in a higher dose than they should be.

Please use a weigh tape to assess your pony's weight and then dose accordingly. An equest wormer may cost £10 or so but it may do five miniatures so it only costs £2 for each. Please do not try to cheat with cheaper wormers as they just do not work anymore, if you cannot afford £2 per pony four times a year for wormer then you should not be owning and breeding these special tiny horses.

Ailments & Treatments

Smaller Horses Are Different To Larger Horses

We have found by experience that Shetlands suffer different problems and sometimes more serious problems than larger horses. For example hyperlipeamia is a common and serious problem with miniature ponies which is where the liver clogs up with fat. This problem does not seem to occur in larger horses and so very little study has gone into the condition. For more information see Hyperlipeamia below.

Shetlands are rarely poorly

In general Shetland's are rarely ill if they are kept well, but owners need to be aware of the main problems that can occur from time to time.


The most common problem that can occur in young miniatures is something called zooepidemicus, it usually affects foals and sometimes older ponies and the symptoms are usually just a snotty nose but can also make the pony feel a bit down for a few days. The best treatment for this is nothing but time which is usually three months. This is quite contagious and will usually go through most of the foals that are in the same field. It can also give symptoms similar to strangles. If it does no treatment is necessary as this is not a serious condition. Here is a detailed piece about the condition by Ben Moves MA VetMB MRCVS.


this is the story of a small group of adolescent friends and an embarrassing social disease.

Not uncommon. In fact, almost normal in their age group but nonetheless very debilitating on their performance in the Show ring. They had a cough and the snots.

Yearling horses and ponies often develop a cough. This can be accompanied by the complete range of symptoms from frequent coughing, inappetance, high temperatures, clear and runny nasal discharges to green thick nasal discharges and so on. Some untreated conditions can become very serious and should always be seen by a vet.

The causes of Upper Respiratory Tract Disease in yearlings are many. As a rule of thumb, clear runny nasal discharge, off food for a day and then coughing is often caused by a virus.

The most common URTI virus is Equine Herpes Virus, type 1 or 4. In fact, investigations have shown that up to 85% of 2 year olds have scroconverted (i.e. been exposed and developed an immune response to Respiratory Equine Herpes). Unfortunately, the immunity is short-lived. Vaccination to EHV 1 & 4 is available from your vet. It is not required for showing (unlike influenza vaccination) and boosters are required every 6 months.
Influenza is another URTI and can be severe. It is less common due to vaccination. Vaccines are frequently updated to try and keep up with virus mutation.

There are other URTI equine viruses including Rhinovirus of which there are several types. These infections tend to be less severe although this is not always the case.

Viral infections are often followed up by secondary 'opportunist' bacterial infections. Although horses and ponies can fight these bugs themselves with rest, antibiotics often help and may be necessary in some cases. Obviously, but rarely, pneumonia can be a complication.

Our little group of valuable showing miniature yearlings, however, had green snotty noses, not running, just crusty. When they started coughing they had a day or so of being 'off colour1 but certainly carried on eating. Within a few days they had the full blown disease.

Not very dramatic. Coughing, several bouts a day. And the snots. On examination the yearlings also had a very characteristic sign: the sub-mandular lymph nodes were swollen. The glands just inside the back of the lower jaw on both sides (normally marble sized) were egg-sized and sore to squeeze.
They didn't start at once. First there was one, and then a week or so later another developed the symptoms. Attempts at isolation just prolonged the onset of eventual infection. After a month the whole yearling group had it. No other age group was affected.

The symptoms were never that bad. Just a cough, snots and swollen glands under the jaw. Powdered antibiotics and Ventipulmin (an oral bronchodilator) seemed to help for a while, but the symptoms didn't really go away.

After a month and when it had become obvious there was group involvement I investigated more carefully. I took a nasal swab of the most recent case. It isolated beta haemolytic Streptococcus zooepidemicus. A common bacterium that often lives in horses' and ponies' upper respiratory tracts but can cause disease, especially in young stock - especially in yearlings.

The most common treatment in most horse industries e.g. racing is to leave the horses alone and allow the disease to run its course. This can take time. Up to three months, or more........

But SHOWING MINIATURES don't have the time. They should be showing. Some say that horses take so long to recover from the symptoms because they are so mild that the immune system takes longer to realise that it has a problem.

I admitted two of the group to our clinic. One was the most chronically (longest) infected, the other the most recent. I x-rayed their chests. They reminded me of my previous days in small animal practice - but the x-rays were normal. Unfortunately, I didn't have a fibre optic endoscope small enough, so I took a blind tracheal wash using a mare catheter and sterile tubing. All the lab grew was beta haemolytic Streptococcus zooepidemicus.
I spoke to the Animal Health Trust. I spoke to a specialist vet in the USA. We opted to treat the group with intra muscular cetifur (Excenell) daily for 7 days. The symptoms had disappeared by day  4 ...........  BUT a week after we finished treatment back they came, COUGHS, SNOTS and SWOLLEN GLANDS.

Now, none of the glands abscessated. This can happen with this bacterium although it cannot cause true Strangles like Streptococcus equi. However, it did hide from the antibiotics in a similar way by living inside lymph node cells.

Other treatments were tried, including immune support and homeopathy. These may well have helped. But at the end of the day, the best and only treatment was time. All the symptoms went after three months. Almost to the day.

Gastrointestinal Tract

The most common serious problems that seem to affect the miniature ponies more so than larger horses, especially ponies less than 31" are with the gastrointestinal tract. These problems when they occur are very hard to cure because the treatment and drugs that are available can often cause liver failure by Hyperlipeamia before getting on top of the actual problem. The stomach of a horse is very different to that of a cow, cows can eat or be fed all sorts of bad and mouldy hay, straw, haylage and silage without hardly ever having any problems. The stomach of a horse is very different and much more susceptible to problems which are often caused by poor quality hay, haylage and silage.

Haylage Is Bad For Small Horses

We know many people who feed haylage, we used to ourselves a few years ago, the ponies love it, but often it contains toxic mould and bacteria which the pony’s livers cannot deal with for long. We also found that haylage causes placenta previa or red bag during foaling. We would recommend never feed haylage to pregnant mares especially or any miniature ponies on a regular basis with one exception, if you have a pony that has gone off its food, try some fresh haylage for a short time until the pony is eating well again.

Colts and Stallions Are More Resilient

We have found that stallions and colts seem to be much more resilient to illnesses than their female counterparts even when being born, if you are going to lose a foal it always seems to be a filly. It would be interesting to hear from other breeders if they have had any cases of illness with their colts or stallions.

Salt Licks and Naff Blood Liquid

One of the most important things that we believe will keep ponies healthy is making sure that they have regular access to a salt lick, real chunks of rock salt are the best but there are plenty of salt blocks available.

We have also found that giving a ten day cures of Naff Blood Liquid to a pony that is a bit down and not eating properly seems to work well. It is a quick and tasty way of getting the correct balance of vitamins and minerals into the pony. We have also tried the Red Cell liquid but the ponies do not like the taste of that.


Strangles is a very common condition in many horses large or small, it is usually diagnosed by finding an abscess or swelling under the throat, it can be very serious in larger horses but does not seem to be as bad in the miniatures as we have never known anyone who has lost a miniature pony with strangles. If you know different please let us know. It is very contagious and so ponies diagnosed with this need to be isolated until the abscesses burst and then kept isolated for another six weeks. Most ponies are not infectious after this time but a few can continue to be carriers for up to six months. Here is a piece by


Hyperlipeamia is the most common serious problem illness in miniature Shetland ponies. It is caused by various things indirectly which then affect the liver, diarrea, gastro problems, foaling stress, any type of stress, poor food, eating dead leaves, eating frosty grass, salmonella, being too fat, being given steroids, being given most drugs, being given butte (No miniatures should ever be given butte for more than one or two doses). The list is endless but the result is that these tiny horses have a very specific problem which is directly related to their smallness, they have a very small liver which cannot tolerate any large changes in their blood.

When they feel poorly and stop feeding for a while their bodies switch to using body fat instead just like other animals and humans, however in miniature horses this change happens to drastically. The fat goes into the blood so fast that the pony’s liver gets clogged up fast and when that happens it fails quickly.

The first warning signs of Hyperlipeamia are on finding a pony that is down in the mouth, lacklustre, no spirit, not eating properly, messing about with their food but not eating. In the later stages the pony will not eat at all even when being force fed, often they will not drink although some drink well. Usually these ponies do not respond to any treatment although we have found that getting a vet to infuse glucose mix into the pony can reverse the fatty blood quickly when it has been caused by a quick stress i.e.: foaling.

In the later stages of Hyperlipeamia the pony will not want any food or water, it will be grinding its teeth and trying to eat dirt of the floor, it will sometimes try to drown itself in a water trough, and all in all it is very distressing to see a pony at this stage. It is best to have the pony put to sleep before this stage but it is very difficult when the pony is still maybe walking around. If you see the pony pulling its front feet up to its belly it is obviously in great pain, this is the time to call in the angels if not before.

Our best advice would be that on finding a pony that does not want to feed in the stable, to put it out on grass even in the winter but to also supplement its feed, put another couple of healthy ponies with it because this will encourage it to keep eating grass.

We have had a bad period where we had several poorly ponies, which seemed to be getting the same symptoms of Hyperlipeamia but we seem to have pulled them through by throwing them back out into the cold fields and supplementing there feed morning and afternoon with Spillers Mare and Young Stock Mix, 1 scoop per pony morning and night. We have used Dodson & Horrell Mare & Young stock mix for years but this year none of the foals wanted to eat it. This is interesting; please comment if you have any further views, we have sadly lost a pony to this.

Bad winters can be bad for Shetland breeders, please email me with your experiences over winter so that we can all find the best ways to look after our tiny equines in the future. Our vet has told us that he has put many Shetland’s to sleep this winter in our area due to Hyperlipeamia.

Horses Live On Protein Not Grass

Our Vet asked me what do horses live on, I said grass and hay etc. he said no, they live on protein which is produced in the processing of the food that they eat, this is recovered from their colon at the end of the stomach process. It is all about bacteria in the gut and the colon of the ponies being in balance. If something goes wrong with this balance it often causes diarrhea we asked him if there is any product that could help to add back the damaged bacteria to correct the balance. He told us of a few but then told us that the best way to get the correct bacteria back into the pony is to feed it some of another healthy horses droppings. This is what new born foals do, they eat mums droppings. It seems bad but our vet explained that the pony’s droppings are just processes grass or hay which includes the important bacteria just like Actimel for humans.

When a pony won’t eat we have found a good way to help them, we get a 20mm syringe and cut the whole end off so that it is just a plunger, and we wrap some tape around the first inch of the plunger so that it does not get stuck at the end. Then we mix a very simple mix of oats-so -simple or ready break with grass nuts and lots of sugar and some boiling water. When cool the mash is semi solid and sticky. We then go to "force" feed the pony. We pull the whole plunger out off the syringe and then keep stabbing the syringe into the paste until it is nearly full, then we put the plunger back in and carefully insert it up into the poorly ponies mouth and then press the plunger. Hey-Presto the sticky mush gets chewed on and swallowed. Sometimes we help it down with a squirt of sugar water.

Sometimes we add droppings to this easily by just plunging the syringe into some fresh dropping. We then add sugar water to help the pony to accept the food.

Please do not be afraid to try adding bacteria back into your poorer ponies from better ones when they become poorer than the rest. It is only like humans drinking actimel.

There is also another very important lesson for breeders here and that is to not clear up mums droppings to quickly when she has foaled as the foal needs this bacteria to make her gut work.

I hope that this information has been useful. Please email me with any further useful information or comments if you disagree, I am not an expert and so will amend any information if we all learn better ways.

I hope that you enjoyed this page, if you wish to continue on this interesting journey to see our Facebook Page.

Eye Ulcers

Eye ulcers can occurs occasionally in horses, the first symptoms are the forming of a white area somewhere on the eye, and this is dead or damaged tissue. Horse’s eyes are very good at healing. As the eye starts to heal lots of new blood cells will form to bring oxygen to the damaged area, this is called NeoVascularization. At this stage the eye can look very bad, being very blood shot and milky. It is best to treat the eye twice a day with Chloromycetin 1% Ophthalmic Ointment. The ulcers will usually clear up after a few weeks sometimes leaving a little blemish.

Terms and Conditions


A horse/pony will be held upon receipt of a deposit. ALL Deposits are non-refundable. If a payment plan is arranged all payments made to the agreement are classified as deposits and become non-refundable.


Full payment is required for foals, payment plans are available, but each payment is treated as non-refundable. Final balance for foals must be paid prior to the 1st August each year.


You can secure a foal prior to birth, a payment of £350 is required this will give you first exposure to newly born foals. This is based on a first come first served basis. Foals will be able to leave Sandbeck Farm no earlier than five months, this may be extended if Sandbeck Farm feels it would be beneficial to the foal..


Delivery charges must be paid for prior to delivery. Horses/ponies must be paid for and funds cleared prior to collection or delivery.


When you buy a horse/pony from us, you will become responsible for loss or damage as soon as the goods are delivered to you or collected. We own the horse/pony until full payment has been received. If your pony/horse becomes ill you must ensure you have your animal insured to cover the cost of any treatment. Sandbeck Farm will not be liable for any costs for this treatment.


We will not be liable or responsible for any failure to perform, or delay in performance of, any of our obligations under a Contract that is caused by events outside our reasonable control (Force Majeure Event).

Terms and Conditions DEPOSIT A horse/pony will be held upon receipt of a deposit. ALL Deposits are non-refundable. If a payment plan is arranged all payments made to the agreement are classified as deposits and become non-refundable. FOAL SALES Full payment is required for foals, payment plans are available, but each payment is treated as non-refundable. Final balance for foals must be paid prior to the 1st August each year. SECURING A FOAL You can secure a foal prior to birth, a payment of £150 is required this will give you first exposure to newly born foals. This is based on a first come first served basis. DELIVERY PAYMENT Delivery charges must be paid for prior to delivery. Horses/ponies must be paid for and funds cleared prior to collection or delivery. LOSS, DAMAGE OR ILLNESS When you buy a horse/pony from us, you will become responsible for loss or damage as soon as the goods are delivered to you or collected. We own the horse/pony until full payment has been received. If your pony/horse becomes ill you must ensure you have your animal insured to cover the cost of any treatment. Sandbeck Farm will not be liable for any costs for this treatment. FORCE MAJEURE We will not be liable or responsible for any failure to perform, or delay in performance of, any of our obligations under a Contract that is caused by events outside our reasonable control (Force Majeure Event). WARRANTY Horses are sold with a 28-day exchange warranty. This is an agreement that is signed by the new owner of the pony/horse at delivery or collection by signing the Delivery/Collection Note. • Upon the Seller’s receipt of the Purchase Price (as cleared funds) • The ownership of the pony/horse shall pass from the Seller to the Purchaser. • The Seller strongly recommends that the Purchaser adequately insures the pony/horse (preferably covering third party liability, death, theft, veterinary fees and loss of use) prior to or immediately upon payment. • Responsibility for any loss, damage or injury whatsoever caused by the pony/horse shall pass to the Purchaser. • The Seller will release possession of the pony/horse to the Buyer or his/her employee/agent together with all original documents. • The Purchaser (or another person designated by the Purchaser) in coordination with the Seller will arrange for the transportation of the pony/horse from the Seller’s premises, (at the Seller’s and the Purchaser’s convenience) at the Purchaser’s expense. • Where the pony/horse is not collected immediately upon ownership of the Pony/Horse passing from the Seller to the Purchaser, the Purchaser agrees to indemnify the Seller against all costs incurred in caring for the pony/horse (veterinary costs etc.) until the horse is collected by the Purchaser or his employee/agent. Any loss, damage or injury howsoever caused by the pony/horse whilst the pony/horse is at the Seller’s premises awaiting collection by the Purchaser shall be the Purchaser’s responsibility. • The Purchaser acknowledges that :- The Seller makes no representation as to the past, current or future health, fitness, performance, ability or material defects which the Purchaser acknowledges have been disclosed by the Seller. The Purchaser has or not inspected the pony/horse and is satisfied with its health, fitness and ability. • The Purchaser acknowledges that the pony/horse is open to veterinary inspection, which the Purchaser may instruct a vet to perform at his discretion. In accepting or declining the opportunity to have the pony/horse inspected by a vet, the Purchaser waives all rights to bring a claim against the Seller in respect of any matter revealed or which should have been revealed by the vet during that inspection. • The Purchaser is satisfied that the pony/horse is suitable for its intended purpose. • The Purchaser accepts that horses are unpredictable by nature and that horse riding is a high-risk sport. The Seller is unable to predict how any horse will mature or develop in new ownership however the Seller will provide full details of the Horse’s routine and current exercise/feed/tack requirements in order that the pony/horse has the best opportunity of settling into his new home. 4. Horses are sold with a 28-day exchange warranty. The start date of the warranty is the date the funds are transferred or the date of the receipt of cheque(s)/cash or the date the pony/horse is collected, whichever is the sooner. 5. If the purchaser wishes to return the horse within the 28-day warranty period: - (a) Sandbeck Farm agrees to exchange the pony/horse for one of equal quality and value, but under no circumstances will a cash refund be given. (b) If the purchaser wishes to buy a pony/horse of greater value for themselves they can use the original Horse as part payment. (c) If the purchaser does not like anything in stock, Sandbeck Farm will endeavour to get a replacement as soon as possible. This will involve sourcing from other breeders/sellers and may take up to a minimum of 4 weeks. (d) The purchaser agrees to be patient during this time. Whilst every effort will be made to satisfy the purchaser’s requirements quickly, it is not always possible to find the perfect match in each case. 6. If the purchaser wishes Sandbeck Farm to take the pony/horse back to sell on their behalf, the following charges will apply – • livery charged at the current rate. • 25% of the sale price • If separate sales advertising is required, the costs will be charged to the Purchaser. • If the farrier or the vet is required the costs will be charged to the purchaser. 7. The following conditions apply to the exchange warranty: • The pony/horse must be returned in the same condition as it was in when it left the premises. • The pony/horse must not be injured or blemished in any way. • It must not be freeze marked or have ID brands on its feet or a replacement microchip inserted. • Sandbeck Farm reserve the right to have a veterinary surgeon inspect the pony/horse on its return. • In the event of dispute, the matter shall be referred to an independent Equestrian Expert to be agreed by the Purchaser and Seller.

Breed Information

Shetland Ponies

Small ponies have existed in the Shetland Isles for over 2000 years and probably much longer. Various excavations on the islands have revealed the bones of small ponies that existed during the Bronze Age and it is thought that ponies have been in domestic use there since this time.

It is believed that the Shetland has its origin in the Cob type of Tundra and the Mountain Pony type from Southern Europe which migrated via the ice fields and land masses, with later introduction of a pony brought to the islands by the Celtic people which had evolved from crossing the same Mountain Pony type with the Oriental horse.

Owing to its island existence the pony has evolved with relatively few importations and those that did arrive were by necessity small owing to the difficulties of transportation by sea. Two significant types established themselves within the breed, the heavier boned animal with a longer head and the lighter one with high tail carriage and small pretty head, and these have remained distinct characteristics which has stood the pony in very good stead for its changing roles in the service of mankind.

Over the centuries various reports and descriptions of the pony refer to its small stature, strength, hardiness and longevity. The harsh winters of the Islands with little feed due not to the neglect of owners but to the difficulties of available fodder for even their sheep and cattle is surely the reason for the hardiness and purity of the breed, only the toughest surviving successive winters to breed. No place in Shetland is further than four miles from the sea and it is legendary that during the worst winters lack of grazing on the scathold would drive some ponies to forage for seaweed along the shores. The ponies however were not small due to sparse living conditions but rather it was the small pony that was able to survive this, whereas larger horses did not. Shetlands bred in milder climates which are given ample food do not increase in size at all.

Various stories about the ponies strength are legendary - for their size they are the strongest of all the horse breeds. For centuries the pony cultivated the land, carried the peat from the scatholds and seaweed for the fields, and was used to transport his owner. The pony was never a draught animal until the mid 19th century as there were no proper roads until then. The horse owning fisherman was able to use hair from the ponies tails for his lines.
When the law in 1847 banned children from entering the coal pits, the Shetland pony colts became in great demand and many had to exchange the freedom of the hills for the darkness of the mines. In fact their docile and willing nature enabled them to adapt very well to their underground environment and they were treated with much affection by their handlers and every so often they were returned to above ground for a period of time. At this time several studs were formed in an attempt to improve the stock by the use of the best stallions available that would breed ponies with the bone and substance necessary for the pit trade.

The breed also attracted much interest for children to ride and for driving and many people including Queen Victoria owned several pairs of Shetlands for drawing their smart phaetons. In the last twenty years of the nineteenth century thousands of ponies left the islands, reports of over one thousand a year, and many were exported across the Atlantic.

During this period of huge popularity the Shetland Pony Stud-Book Society was formed in 1890 with the aim of publishing a Stud-Book which was the first for a native breed of pony in Britain. Many of the registered ponies today can trace their pedigrees back to the first volumes of the Stud-Book and we owe much to the skill and dedication of the owners of these early studs in selecting the best ponies from the unregistered stock available to them. Most notable of these was the Marquis of Londonderrys stud which was formed in the 1870s on the islands of Bressay and Noss to supply ponies for the collieries he owned in County Durham. By careful selection of stock he produced a much improved animal in a remarkably short time and these ponies had the most significant effect on the type of ponies we have today. Ponies with the best conformation available were acquired and the stallions closely bred to, the most famous being Jack 16 who had 49 direct descendants out of the 58 mares entered in Volumes I and II of the Stud Book. The stud was dispersed in 1899 but most of the main breeders of this time acquired stock from this Stud including the Ladies Hope who brought ponies south to their home in Sussex where they bred with great success and the stud continues today. They kept only the best of their ponies for breeding and when certain the type was true they also bred close. They had the most Londonderry blood of any in their stock and many breeders acquired stock from them with the result that numerous ponies of today trace back to the Bressay stud through the Hope lines.

Falabella Horses

Falabella is the Original miniature horse. It has been bred on the Falabella ranch in Argentina for over 150 years and it’s story began in 1845 when an Irish man named Patrick Newtall discovered that the tribes of pampas Indians had some unusually small horses along with their larger riding horses. He managed to obtain some and by 1853 he had created a herd of small, perfectly built little horses of around 102cms. In 1879 he transferred his findings, herd and knowledge to his son-in-law, Juan Falabella. Juan continued the experiment by using other breeds to develop this small horse – the smallest English thoroughbreds he could find, Shetland ponies and Criollo – the Argentine horse of the pampas.

In 1905 the herd was transferred to the next generation Emillio and in 1927 the establishment was inherited by Julio Cesar Falabella who kept careful genealogical records, introduced the blood of several other breeds including the North American Appaloosa which gave the breed it’s spotting capability and the Hackney! Some time after this he began to sell a few Falabellas to selected clients and the late President John F. Kennedy was one of the first people to acquire some.

After the death of Julio Cesar Falabella in 1980 the horses were divided equally between his only child Maria Anjelica Falabella and his wife Maria Luisa de Falabella.

The Falabella is linked to the earliest modern horses in the New World. The Spanish brought over Andalusian horses when they attempted to conquer the Americas, which were forced to fend for themselves when the would-be conquerors were forced to flee. To survive they had to undergo structural changes to cope with the variable climate of the pampas. Cold winds, strong sun and fierce storms are common. The land is arid and horses have to travel long distances to find pasture and water.

The Falabella is gentle and docile around people but retains plenty of ‘fizz’ around it’s herd-mates, indulging in ‘horse-play’ They are long-lived and hardy, coping very well with cold weather although most of them would appreciate some protection from prolonged spells of rain.

Tobiano Information

Tobiano Information "Breeding Coloured Ponies"

Can coloured foals be guaranteed? Yes they can, we are currently breeding guaranteed to breed colour to a plain coloured stallion or mare. This is all dependent on genes. Homozygous (TT):

This means that the pony carries 2 copies of the Tobiano or colour gene. When bred, this pony will always pass on the colour gene to its offspring. Heterozygous (nT): The pony is a Tobiano or colour carrier, but only carries one copy of the gene. Therefore 50% of the time it will produce coloured foals, and 50% of the time it will not. Negative: (nn) the horse does not carry the Tobiano or colour gene, and cannot ever produce coloured offspring.
All this may sound complicated but it is easy to get a pony tested for the right gene. If your pony has the very special gene then you can guarantee that you will get a coloured foal 50% of the time. If your pony tests for 2 copies of this gene then it is very special and will always breed coloured ponies. Coloured horses and ponies, often referred to as Piebald, Skewbald, or Tri-coloured have long been amongst the most desirable of all equine specimens. Despite their rising popularity, little thought has been given to the genetics involved in creating their unique appearance. This article briefly explains the Tobiano gene and the testing available for this common coat colour pattern.

The Tobiano gene is a dominant gene expressing in both horses that are heterozygous and homozygous for Tobiano. The gene is associated with the loss of pigmentation, leading to a horse with large white markings in certain defined areas. These markings can include some or all of the following: White oval-shaped patches crossing over the back. White Legs, extending from the hocks and knees down. Neck, face, and front of forelegs are generally unaffected. A Tobiano horse will display one or more of these traits, although the extent of these Tobiano markings can vary. A ‘Minimally expressed’ Tobiano horse is coloured, but the pigment loss (the white areas) is often much less noticeable than what is commonly seen on a Tobiano horse. Inheritance from Parents In the simplest terms, a foal randomly inherits half of its genetic makeup from the dam and half from the sire.

The principles of how the Tobiano gene is passed from parent to offspring apply to any other gene or genetic trait. A horse that does not carry a Tobiano gene is Tobiano negative. In science, we give this a code and refer to a Tobiano negative simply as ‘nn’. An nn horse displays no Tobiano markings and will not pass the Tobiano gene on to its foals. A horse that carries a single Tobiano gene is referred to as ‘Tobiano heterozygous’ –the word heterozygous in reference to genes means ‘two different genes’. Tobiano heterozygous horses are referred to as ‘nT’. An nT horse displays Tobiano markings and will statistically pass the Tobiano gene on to 50% of its foals. A horse that carries TWO Tobiano genes is referred to as ‘Tobiano homozygous’ –the word homozygous in reference to genes means ‘two of the same’. Tobiano homozygous horses are referred to as ‘TT’. A TT horse not only displays Tobiano markings, but will pass the gene to 100% of its foals.

So, a Tobiano horse can carry either one or two Tobiano genes. The number of Tobiano genes the dam and sire carry will ultimately determine whether its offspring can potentially be heterozygous or homozygous for Tobiano. The following points simplify how carrying one or two copies of a certain gene affect the inheritance of that gene to the offspring. The offspring inherits 50% of its genetic makeup from the dam and 50% from the sire. If a horse has two copies of a certain gene (homozygous), it is guaranteed to pass one copy on to its offspring. If a horse has one copy of a certain gene (heterozygous), it is 50/50 as to whether or not it will pass the gene on to its offspring. Here is an example of the above points, using the Tobiano gene as mentioned before the offspring in the chart above is heterozygous, 50% of the time it will pass on the Tobiano gene to its own offspring and 50% of the time it will not. With some basic information of the Tobiano pattern and the genetics involved explained above, the following is a description of the possible results obtained via genetic testing: Tobiano Negative (nn): Solid, non-Tobiano horse. Tobiano Heterozygous (nT): Positive for the Tobiano gene and will produce both coloured foals and solid foals on a 50% likelihood basis for each. Tobiano Homozygous (TT): Will always produce coloured foals regardless of the mate. By utilising Animal Genetics’ testing services, you have the ability to predict the ratio of Tobiano foals you can expect, as well as other equine genetic tests. Animal Genetics has developed a program to assist horse breeders in predicting possible offspring coat colours. The ‘Coat Colour Calculator’ can be reached by following the link below: DNA Tests Available At present, genetic testing for the Tobiano pattern is carried out by testing for a mutation found in the KIT gene, which is closely linked to the Tobiano gene. Currently, there is not a direct test for the Tobiano gene, but the outstanding accuracy of this test makes it more than a viable option for any serious enthusiast or breeder.

If you wish to carry out the genetic test with Animal Genetics UK and determine if your coloured horse is homozygous or heterozygous, you can download the submission form through their web-site: Hair Sample Collection Collect sample by pulling (not cutting) 30-40 mane or tail hairs with roots attached. It is important that you pull the hairs and confirm that the actual root of the hair is being collected. The root contains the genetic material of your horse that is needed for DNA testing. Therefore, cut hairs do not provide an adequate sample. Place the collected hairs of each horse in a separate zip-lock bag labelling the bags accordingly with the horse’s name or identification number. Complete a submission form for each sample and send the form along with hair sample(s) and payment to Animal Genetics. Please note, that because this is an ‘indirect’ genetic test for Tobiano, there is a small percentage of Tobiano horses which we have found to test as ‘Negative’ using this technique. This has occurred in less than a dozen horses, from 3,000 tests. Animal Genetics also offers a number of other Equine genetic tests, some of which are relevant to Tobiano horses.

© 2024 Sandbeck Stud