Horses have long held a special status among domestic animals. They were originally used for riding, but replaced oxen for pulling loads about a century ago. The Gotland pony is the only remaining native pony breed in Sweden, and was once a wild breed. It originated on the island of Gotland, where it has existed for thousands of years. There are currently around 6,000 Gotland ponies in Sweden. The most famous herd can be found on Gotland’s Lojsta Heath, where around 50 ponies roam freely across a large area.
Resistant to disease
The pony’s head is well proportioned, with a broad forehead, a straight nose bridge and alert eyes. The Gotland pony’s coat can be brown, chestnut, black, palomino, buckskin, piebald or striped.
About the Gotland ponyScientific name:
Approx 400 kgHeight at the withers:
130 cmSexual maturity:
2 years for maresBreeding season:
Approx 11 monthsNumber of young:
20-25 years, occasionally up to 40 yearsEats:
PlantsNumber in Sweden:
A total of 6,000 individuals. Around 50 roam free on Lojsta Heath on Gotland
It is a popular riding horse, but is also used for trotting and as a working horse. It is classified as a pony because it has a height at the withers of about 115–130 cm. It is an extremely hardy, strong breed and is resistant to disease. It is also easy to train, and has a good temperament.
The Gotland pony and humans
In ancient times, the pony was mainly used to pull loads on farms. It was also often used as a road horse, thanks to its trotting ability and its stamina. Gotland ponies were traded as early as the Viking Age. From the mid-19th century, they were mainly sold to Germany, England and Belgium, where they were used to pull loads in coal mines. During the same period, legal changes meant that the Gotland farmers’ land was divided up. Forest land began to be converted into arable land, and the pony’s natural pastures were threatened.
Special feeding hut
Here at Skansen, you will find the Gotland ponies at their feeding hut near the Skåne Farmstead. This is a traditional Gotland structure where outdoor sheep and ponies can seek shelter and be fed during the winter. The animals can enter and leave via an opening on the ground floor, and hay and leaves are stored above.
Did you know
In ancient times, the pony was mainly used to pull loads on farms and as a road horse.