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Viking Oceans: Shetlands! The World’s Favorite Ponies

September 1, 2019


– [Narrator] The wind-swept
Shetland Islands, where the Atlantic Ocean
collides with the North Sea, is home to some unique and
fascinating characters. – [Carol] I was born right in
the house that I’m still in, and I’ve stayed in Shetland
all my life. (laughs) – [Narrator] Carol Fuller
is a wrangler and breeder whose family has long loved
the islands’ iconic residents. – [Carol] There’ve been three generations that’s had the Shetland ponies. (laughs) They’re part of my life. – [Narrator] While the Shetland pony dates to the bronze age,
it was primarily breeding with Thule ponies brought by the Vikings that created the sprightly
breed we see today. – [Carol] Oh, their
spirits is pretty high. They have high spirits. (laughs) Every one has a different personality. The big white one, she always stands with her head up, looks up,
and her ears up and everything to see me. (laughs) – [Narrator] Though the
hardy Shetland pony has long thrived here, its
life has rarely been easy. – [Carol] When I was young,
the ponies wasn’t for fun they were work carters. All the craftwork was done on ponies. There were no tractors. They did the carting in the hay carting in the corn plowing the regs. Everything was done on a pony. – [Narrator] And in 1847,
when the British banned children from the coal mines the tough Shetland pony
went to work underground. For years they were in constant demand since these resilient, sure-footed wonders could move loads of coal
up to 3000 miles a year. – [Carol] They were usually
down two weeks and up two weeks. The ponies was treated
very well and they say that the ponies was treated much
better than the men. (laughs) – [Narrator] In such a
spacious, relaxed setting one could easily assume that
raising the highly intelligent extremely patient Shetland
pony would be a piece of cake. I was quickly assured
that was not the case. – [Carol] No, no, no. (laughs) You must be good to them. You have to be good to them but you have to make sure that
they know you’re the boss. It’s just like a dog. (laughs) – [Narrator] Much like an
artist who hates to part with their paintings, Carol often holds on to her ponies. They stay and become part of the family. – [Carol] At one point, I
had six generations. (laughs) If they go from me as a foal, they go to some other body but if they live past a year old they’re aside me for their life. My oldest mare was 35. She was a good old lady. She
was a very good old lady. (laughs) – [Narrator] One thing’s for sure Shetlands are highly addictive. They even hooked Queen Elizabeth who rode them throughout her childhood. While these precocious ponies top out at only 42 inches, don’t let their diminutive stature fool you. Pound for pound, they’re
actually the strongest of the horse family, able to
pull twice their body weight. And one thing they’re
certainly not short of is personality. – [Carol] I always say
they’re like the weather clock (laughs) whichever way the wind is coming from you always see them standing
with their rear ends to the wind. (laughs) – [Narrator] I hope you,
too, will do as I did and pay a visit to Carol and her ponies in the remarkable Shetland islands.

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