Prepared from information supplied by the Highland Pony Society of Australia
The Highland pony is one of the three native pony breeds of the Scottish Highlands and islands. The first recorded Highland pony arrived in Australia around 1912, though it was not until 1961 that further ponies were imported. Today, there are fewer than 200 Highland ponies in Australia.
Highland ponies are well adapted to the severe environmental conditions of Scotland and combine essential hardiness with a kindly nature and an even temperament. In general, Highland ponies are powerful, well-built animals with short, broad heads and compact muscular bodies.
Highland ponies can measure between 13 and 14.2 hands, but all should have the assets of good bone and substance for their height, making them stronger, and able to endure more work and weight than most other ponies of similar size. Highland ponies can be of many colours, however large white markings are discouraged. The mane of a Highland pony should be long, untrimmed and flowing.
Highland ponies are traditionally associated with deerstalking and game hunting. They are also used as all-purpose utility animals by highland farmers and crofters in Scotland, for ploughing and hauling timber. Highland ponies were also used by the British Army during the Second World War.
There are about 5500 Highland ponies in the world. Despite this increasing popularity, the breed is still categorised as 'at risk' by the United Kingdom's Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Highland ponies are economical and low-maintenance ponies. They are a versatile breed and their placid temperament and willingness to please makes them suitable mounts for many equine sports. In Australia, breeders and owners use their Highlands for pleasure and trail riding and all competition disciplines, including pony club, dressage, sporting, driving, eventing, showing and western events.
Because of their docility, sure-footedness and intelligence, Highlands are invaluable as pack ponies and for farm and forestry work. Their sensible nature and sturdy build also makes them a great pony for use with Riding for the Disabled programs.