Name of breed: Gotland Pony or Gotland Russ
Country of origin: Sweden
Breed origin: The Gotland Pony or Gotland Russ as it’s also known, is the most common breed of pony in Sweden. They are claimed to descend from the Tarpan breed that lived on the small island of Gotland that was on the South-Eastern coast of Sweden right after the last ice age. However, DNA studies indicate this is unlikely in that the breed’s pattern of development is more akin to most other landrace breeds, where domesticated stallions were crossed on local indigenous mares.
Today these ponies are mainly bred domestically in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and parts of North America.
Distinguishing features: Light and narrow in build, the Gotland Russ generally stands between 11.1 to 12.3 hands high at the withers. While bay or black colouring is usually preferred, all colours apart from dun, grey and pinto are allowed according to the breed’s studbook.
The Gotland is considered to be a very quick learner and described as easy to train.
Modern day Gotland Pony: These ponies are very common in Sweden and are most often used by riding schools because they are excellent all-rounders. They are often used as harness racing ponies, but also excel under saddle in show jumping, dressage and eventing.
Image credit: Tom Svensson via Nordens Ark