By PetMD Editorial on Dec. 6, 2009

An ancient breed, the Highland is thought to have inhabited Scotland before the Ice Age. Though small, it is used for pack duty and light draft work, as well as for riding.


Physical Characteristics


The Highland horse is unique in its own right. With a well-balanced facial profile, stunning eyes, and proportionately set muzzle, it is considered an attractive horse by most. Its coat colors include yellow, mousse, and gray; some Highland horses even have stripes on their limbs.


The Highland horse measures between 12.1 to 14.2 hands high (48-57 inches, 122-144 centimeters). This, for some, may be seen as a disadvantage. Surprisingly, though, the Highland horse is capable of carrying heavy loads despite its relatively small build.


Personality and Temperament


The primary reason why Highland horses were employed in pony trekking is its calm and docile nature, which have now become inherent characteristics.



Its ease of care has made the Highland one of the most common horse breeds in Scotland. Highland horses are also capable of adapting to harsh weather conditions, even cold winters that other horse breeds cannot.


History and Background


According to records, the Highland is one of the oldest horse breeds in existence; in fact, it dates back as far as the Ice Age. According to experts, there were originally two types of the Highland horse breed: the Scottish Mainland and Western Island. The distinction between the two lies in the size; the Scottish Mainland is generally larger than the Western Island.


The Highland horse has been used extensively throughout the course of history. Originally used by royalty as a symbol of status, both politically and economically, the Highland became even more popular in Scotland when pony-trekking was introduced. This trend began in Newtonmore, where Scotland horses were the preferred breed for riding by tourists and travelers.


Today, the Highland horse breed is no less important. It can be found in almost all farms in Scotland. Highland horses are also consistent front-runners in the National Driving Trail Points Championship. In fact, a commission on this specific horse breed was created in 1986: the Highland Pony Society. This commission is in charge of exporting the famous horse breed to different countries.

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