THE GOTLAND PONY
Looking for just the right pony? This would be a pony that acts with common sense and courtesy, can carry the weight of an adult or child, and does not founder when fed grain. No such creature, you say? Wrong! It is time to meet the Gotland Pony, native to the Island of Gotland, off the coast of Sweden.
A legal code called the Skanelagen from the 13th century first mentioned "the wild horses of Gotland," called Russ ( for horse) or Skogsbaggar (for '"little horse of the woods). The Gotland is a very sturdily-built creature that looks like its ancient forebear, the now-extinct Tarpan. Though it ranges from only 11 to 13 hands, it is strong enough to carry a full-sized man because of its powerful sloping shoulder and hindquarter.
Although it is thought that Gotland ponies numbered in the thousands during the Middle Ages, by the end of World War I, there were only about 150 left on the island of Gotland. Through the concerted efforts of a few dedicated breeders, some of them right here in the United States, there are now about 9000 Gotlands-- in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the United States. Like so many breeds of horses that we have examined here, the success of the Gotland Pony demonstrates the very fine line between extinction and survival!