Home / Swedish Horses / Gotland Pony

By Smith Northam

Last updated: 23rd March 2018

Gotland Pony


Smith Northam
Last updated: 23rd March 2018

The Gotland Pony is a very ancient, domesticated breed that developed in Sweden. These animals were used as working ponies, mostly for agricultural or mining purposes, and also proved to be excellent as children’s mounts and for racing. Experts believe that, many of today’s ponies that are found in and around the northern and the western European countries have some Gotland in their bloodlines. This is an extremely rare breed and has been declared as endangered.

Gotland Pony Pictures

Quick Information

Also Known As Gotland Russ, Gotland-russ, Russ, Skogsbagge, Skogsruss
Behavioral Characteristics Even-tempered, gentle
Physical Traits Has a narrow and light stature with the head having a straight profile, with the ears being small but alert; they have large, expressive eyes, a short and muscular neck, and a straight and long back; the legs are strong with solid joints and hardy hooves
Coat Colors All the 14 common colors viz. white, black, brown, grey, bay, chestnut, dun, buckskin, palomino, perlino, cremello, roan, champagne, and grullo
Height/Size 11.1 – 12.3 hands (average for adult studs/stallions and mares)
Weight Light
Health Problems Generally healthy with no known diseases
Type Working Pony, Riding Pony, Racing Pony, Sporting Pony
Uses Pleasure mounts, work, general riding, children’s riding, dressage, eventing, show jumping, polo, harness racing, athletics
Ancestors (Bloodlines) Ancient forest horses
Popular Traits Multi-talented, strong, healthy, energetic, intelligent, calm
Feeding/Diet General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.
Country of Origin Sweden

Video: Gotland Pony – A Short Documentary

History and Development

The Gotland Pony is an extremely ancient breed that has a record of existence since the Stone Age. This breed originated from the primitive forest horses that dwelled throughout northern Europe. The Gotlander proved to be an adaptable breed, and hence changed very little since its origination. In fact, they closely resemble the Exmoor ponies, and it’s not much easy to distinguish between the two.

The Gotlander breed was first developed by the nomadic Goth people. The Goths were a traveler and a warrior class who would use their ponies to carry their homes, and travel from place to place, along with their families. The Gotland Ponies served the purpose greatly.

With the passage of time, however, the breed almost faded away in the background, and remained so for several centuries. During the economic boom of the 1980s, the interest in keeping hobby horses became a fashion, and the breed came under spotlight yet once again.

In 1943, Sweden opened the first pedigree book for the Gotland ponies. Two Wales pony stallions named Reber General and Criban Daniel have been accepted into it, with a view to improving the breed. However, in 1971, the pedigree was closed, and since then, only registered Gotland ponies are being accepted in it. In 1997, the Gotland Russ Association of North America was founded, and it works with the Swedish Russ Breeders’ Association.

Interesting Facts

  • The Gotland Pony got its name from the Goth people, who created them.
  • The word ‘russ’ in its other name ‘Gotland-Russ’ has been derived from an obsolete word ‘ross’, which meant a charger, or a riding horse in OE.
  • While 11,500 Russ ponies roamed the moors of Gotland in 1880, only 30 active broodmares were left by the end of 1930.
  • Among all its colors, the bay or black variety is usually preferred.
  • At present, Gotland ponies are mostly bred in North America, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
  • This pony is a favorite choice of the riding schools that provide riding training to people.

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