The Hardy Highlander - His Appearance - How the Modern "Sheltie" Originated - Cost of a Pony - Stabling, Feeding, and Grooming - Cost of Keep - Some Useful Hints

MosT animal lovers manage to keep a pet, even under difficult circumstances, and this is usually a dog or a cat.

Many people, especially those living in the country, would like to keep a pony for use and pleasure, but two reasons generally stand in the way of their doing so.

First, the cost of keeping the animal; secondly, the time and trouble they think would be required to look after a pony,

Now, anything worth doing, in the writer's opinion, is worth doing well, and though a pony naturally will cost more to feed and keep than a dog, the trouble and time necessary to look after it properly need not be excessive, if only the owner goes about it in the right way.

There are, of course, several different breeds of small ponies, but the most popular, perhaps, is the Shetland.

In height the Shetland runs from 9 to ii hands, the average height being 10 hands 2 inches. He stands on short legs, has wonderful inexpensive to keep Photos, Charles Reid bone, good back and ribs, is usually very docile, and makes, therefore, an excellent pony for children.

A pure bred Shetland pony mare and foal. This breed is hardy and capable of great endurance, and is

A pure bred Shetland pony mare and foal. This breed is hardy and capable of great endurance, and is

In colour he is generally black, brown, or bay.

The modern history of the Shetland may be said to begin with the Marquis of Londonderry's famous stud at Bressay, founded in 1873, and practically the outcome of the high price bf coal which prevailed in the 'seventies. This made it necessary for the thin seams in the mines to be worked, and it was only very small ponies that could be used for the work. There is hardly a prize-winning "Sheltie" in the country to-day that cannot claim descent from some famous pony bred by Lord Londonderry, so great was his success as a breeder during the six years his stud existed.

There are many well-known breeders to-day, several of them being ladies. Amongst these should be mentioned the Ladies Hope.

Shetland ponies make ideal pets for children, and are equally suitable for riding and for driving

Shetland ponies make ideal pets for children, and are equally suitable for riding and for driving

A young unbroken Shetland pony can be bought for any sum from 5 or 6 upwards. Broken to harness and saddle work, good ponies run from 10 upwards.

Stabling Arrangements

There are four things essential to successful stable management - good food, good housing, cleanliness, and kind but common-sense care.

The stable should be well lighted, well ventilated, and have a properly drained brick or cement floor.

It may be built of brick, stone, or wood, never, if avoidable, of galvanised iron, for the latter is bitterly cold in winter and very hot in summer.

The window should be above the level of the pony's head. The manger should be iron or glazed fireclay, never wood, as that becomes foul, and more easily harbours germs.

There can be no hard and fast rule laid down as to the quantity of food given to any one pony, for no two ponies eat alike. Some do well on little, some require much.

Feeding

As an average, however, a small pony doing regular work, say, ten miles or less a day, would probably require about two quarters, or somewhat less, of good oats, divided into four feeds, each mixed with a few handfuls of good chaff.

At night should be added an armful of the best meadow hay, say about three pounds. It is wiser to feed four times a day, because the little and often system of feeding horses shows the best results. Feed at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Always water before food, or provide clean, fresh water that the pony can go to as he wills. Never give dead cold water to an animal when tired or very hot; always warm it slightly, and in very cold weather it will be found best to warm all drinking water.

The addition of a lump of rock salt in the manger is excellent to keep a pony healthy.

Always have the hay-rack on the floor, never above the pony's head, for seeds and dust are liable to fall into the eyes and cause trouble as the animal pulls out the food.

A warm bran mash once a week on the eve of a rest day should be given.

Never work upon the day following a mash.

A mash should never be so hot that you cannot put your hand into it.

If the pony's work is very light and easy, he can be put into a field or paddock for a few hours daily in warm weather, but not at night, unless he is left out altogether and his coat allowed to grow long, and even then he should have a shelter to go to from wind and rain. But a pony expected to do hard, fast work must be corn fed and stabled.

To secure not only a beautiful glossy coat, but also to keep the pony healthy and clean, it is necessary that once a day he should be well groomed.

Grooming

A good brushing with a hard (dandy) brush all over should be followed by a second brushing with a body, or soft, brush. Then remove the dust with a water brush - the latter to be damped, but not dripping with water - and give a final polish with a soft clean rubber and a good wisp of clean hay. Wash the eyes, nose, mouth, and all parts where there is no thick growth of hair, with a sponge and clean water; comb out the mane and tail, and wash the feet, being sure to dry the heels well afterwards.

When a pony comes in wet and covered with mud, the latter should be scraped off with a steel scraper, and the pony left to dry; when quite dry, brush till clean. Never try to clean by washing mud off; most serious skin troubles arise from so doing.

Always keep the bedding clean, and remove all soiled litter daily; a dirty bed produces ill-health in various ways.

Ponies doing hard, fast work, should be kept clipped, as a heavy coat only causes them to perspire so freely that they lose condition, and are also most liable to take cold if they have to stand wet for hours after they come in from work. The task, too, of drying a heavily coated animal is a long and difficult one.

A Shetland is capable of doing plenty of hard work at a good pace. Some are faster than others, but all may, on the whole, be called good, reliable workers, and make very gentle pets.

Cost Of Food

The cost of keep may average from 4s. to 6s. per week, for good food and bedding, and the pony will require shoeing about every four or five weeks, at the cost of 2s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. for the four shoes.

Never go to a farrier who is not up-to-date and reliable, and always insist that he pares and rasps the feet as little as possible and leaves the heels nice and wide. The shoe should be made to fit the foot, not the foot the shoe.

A set of harness may be obtained from 3 to 5, and a little trap is usually to be had second-hand for 5.

Keep the harness clean, particularly those parts which become covered with grease and perspiration from the skin. Use a breast collar in preference to the ordinary one, and as little harness as possible, and learn the names of all the different parts and how to use them.

Treat your pony with kindness and consideration, and you will have not only a useful pet, but an affectionate and obedient servant, which will give you many an hour's pleasure.