PetMD Editorial

Published Jan. 2, 2010

The Skogsruss or the Gotland is an old Swedish breed that is commonly used as a riding pony.


Physical Characteristics


The Gotland is a small animal that comes in very distinct colors with signature stripes. It exemplifies gracefulness and tranquility. This breed has a small head with a straight outline.  Its ears are small but alert, and its eyes are vivacious. The neck is lean and muscular.  It has noticeable withers, while its back is flat and smooth. The chest is somewhat deeper, while the shoulder is broad. The legs are quite muscular with firm joints. The hooves are well-shaped and compact. This is a small horse which usually stands 12-14 hands high (48-56 inches, 122-142 centimeters).


Personality and Temperament


The Gotland breed is usually very friendly. They are easy to control and very caring animals.  These horses are used as riding ponies in parks, but they are primarily used for farm work. Gotlands, being spirited animals, are known to survive in very unfavorable conditions. This breed exhibits exuberance and an exceptional gait that riders really enjoy.


History and Background


The people responsible for distributing the Gotlands in surrounding areas of Sweden were the Goths. During their travels, they brought their herds with them, and so the Gotlands were dispersed to different farmlands and riverbanks in neighboring countries. Over 50 years, Sweden paid no attention to horse breeding. The only part of Sweden practicing horse breeding was the Province of Gotland where the horse obtained its name. The Gotland is an old pony breed that has been around since primitive times. Many Swedish artifacts, such as paintings and sculptures, can testify to its existence. Gotlands are used for riding and farm work.


Because of its contribution to many schools and farms, horse breeders continue to preserve and increase the population of the Gotland. They keep a handful of purebred stallions and mares in studs, and eventually, Gotlands will be numerous enough to be used not only as riding ponies but also for sporting events.

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