6 Scottish Horse Breeds (With Photos)

If Scottish cattle have won our hearts so do the horses and ponies(small horses) belonging to the country called Scotland. We often discuss horse breeds on our website so there is no way Scottish horses and ponies go unnoticed. So, in this article, we decided to discuss the few famous horse breeds of Scotland. Though the Scottish horse breeds are not that great in number, they are just as exceptional as the cattle. 

There are six registered Scottish breeds, there would definitely be more as well but who knows why they have not got registered or recognized yet. As we would never want to deliver doubtful information to our readers, we would only be discussing the well-known registered breed. So, let’s not beat about the bush and quickly have a look at what these breeds are before we get into the details. 

  • Clydesdale 
  • Eriskay Pony
  • Galloway Pony
  • Garron
  • Highland Pony
  • Shetland pony

1. Clydesdale 


Clydesdale, a Scottish draught horse breed, has been living and continuously decreasing in number since the eighteenth century. This Scottish horse breed made it’s country proud as a huge number of the Clydesdale horses in the past took part and played a huge role in the First world war.

Besides serving in the war, this exceptional draught horse breed has also taken part in parades. Some Clydesdale horses have also served as drum horses in the United States.

Due to it’s exceptional qualities and recognition as a registered breed, this Scottish horse breed is breathing and serving in almost all countries of the world. The majority of the total Clydesdale population is found in Clydesdale, Australia, and New Zealand.

It is not known how exactly this Scottish breed got named, but it can be said with surety that it might be named after River Clyde or Clydesdale, a country in Scotland. As the number of Clydesdale horses is decreasing, this horse breed is in a vulnerable state.

This horse breed can be recognized by the well-muscled strong compact body, straight/slightly convex facial marking, arched neck, high withers, sloped shoulders, clearly lifted hooves, broad forehead, and wide muzzles.

Coat color

Bay, black, chestnut, gray, or sabino

Distinguishing feature

Straight/slightly convex facial marking, arched neck, high withers, sloped shoulders, clearly lifted hooves, and wide muzzles


Carriage horse, agriculture, and farming

2. Eriskay Pony


Eriskay is a famous Scottish pony, a small horse breed. This breed has been serving us since ancient times in the Hebrides of Scotland. It has been protected and bred dedicatedly since then.

Dense waterproof coat, thick mane, tail, wide forehead, well-muscled neck are the few marks of their identification. Due to supernatural similarities, Eriskay Ponies are often related to the two popular northern breeds; Icelandic horse and Faroe pony.

This small horse breed, like most of the Scottish horse breeds, got named after an island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides. To improve the size, Eriskay ponies are often crossbred with Arab and Clydesdale horse breeds.

Like all ancient horse breeds, Eriskay ponies are also extremely rare. As per the rough estimate, almost 300 female Eriskay ponies are living and breathing with us. The Rare Breed Survival Trust has listed them as “critically endangered”.

In 1972, a praise poem on Eriskay pony was written and published. In this poem, the Eriskay pony is praised as an exceptional crofting animal that transports seaweed and peat. 

Coat color

Gray, bay, or black

Distinguishing feature

Light muzzle, dense waterproof coat, and a ring around the eyes


Draught work, riding, show jumping, dressage, crofter pony, and driving

3. Galloway Pony


Unfortunately, this Scottish breed called Galloway Pony has gone extinct from the world a long ago but the imprints the Galloway Ponies has left are still fresh. Though we do not have a picture or anything to see how Galloway Ponies used to look like the books described them as a “Good looking horse”. 

These exceptional ponies were admired for their habit of pacing instead of trotting. The famous English writer Shakespeare called them “Galloway nags” in his famous writing, Henry IV, Part 2.

As the books of history describe them, Galloway ponies were active, extremel

y hardy, and much larger than the regular ponies. As per Wikipedia, the Galloway Ponies were somewhere between 14 to 15 hands tall. 

Coat color

Light bay or brown 

Distinguishing feature

Deep chest, small head, and neck


Pack animal, riding

4. Garron


Garron(also spelled as “Garran”)horse breed has almost disappeared but it is still often mentioned in the writings and discussions. The Garron ponies are small, sturdy just as the ponies should be. For their hardy nature, the Garron ponies are generally referred to as “Undersized beasts”. 

In this era, the ponies that are developed as a result of crossbreeding Highland ponies and Clydesdale horse areas are usually termed as “Garron or Garran ponies”. 

The original Garrons were the hardiest ponies ever existed. They were known and admired for the ability to work on the slopes. They had been admired by several writers. In the famous “A song of Ice and Fire”, George R. R. Martin has admired Garron ponies as they need to be admired. 

The Garron horses were typically bred and raised to help farmers in hauling loads of crops and machinery as the other ponies were not strong enough to do so and the full-sized horses were not considered economical. 

Coat color 


Distinguishing feature 



Pack animal, Agriculture 

5. Highland Pony


Highland pony, a native Scottish pony, is hardy, tough, and super economical to raise and keep. This Scottish pony is considered one of the largest pony of the mountain and moorland pony breeds. 

This Scottish pony belonging to the Highlands is just as adored as the other two ponies; Shetland and Eriskay. Living and surviving the toughest conditions, Highland ponies have become hardiest and strongest enough to survive any kind of weather and hard living conditions. 

Highland ponies do much better in summers and winters than other horses and pony breeds. Their coat has a layer of strong, bager-like hair over a soft dense undercoat whereas, in summers they shed their coat enough that the heat becomes tolerable. 

As per the reports from the existing owners, the Highland ponies are not just super economical to keep, they are even-tempered and kind as well. The friendly social nature makes Highland ponies a great pet as well. 

This exceptional pony breed stands out from the crowd by their well-balanced compact body, good sloping shoulders, well-placed forearms, deep chest, enhanced thighs, powerful quarters, broad knees, and dark hooves.

The Highland ponies, back in the days, were bred for ploughing fields and hauling timber and games but the 21st is proved to be a little less hard for them. Hardly a Highland ponies of this era is seen ploughing or hauling timber. 

Coat color

Gray, seal brown, black, or bay or cremello

Distinguishing feature 

Good sloping shoulders, well-placed forearms, deep chest, enhanced thighs, powerful quarters, broad knees, and dark hooves


Driving, trekking, and riding 

6. Shetland pony


Shetland pony, the most common and famous Scottish breed, that is known and recognized in almost all countries of the world. This pony breed is often demanded kids riding. 

This pony breed originates from Shetland Islands, Scotland but the popularity, hardy, social, and docile nature has got them demanded and distributed across the globe. Despite being serving in almost every corner of the planet earth, a huge number of the Shetland pony population is breathing and surviving the hardiest Shetland island conditions. I wrote a guide about How Much Weight can a Shetland Pony Carry?

Shetland ponies have been blessed with a compact body, widely spaced eyes, high alert ears, short broad back, thick long mane, heavy coats, and short strong legs. Though Shetland ponies are raised for several purposes the ability to serve the mechanized agricultural has given them superiority over Scottish and all other pony breeds out there. 

Due to the short compact bodies, Shetland ponies have often compared to Miniature horses but the miniature horses are a bit smaller in size than the Shetland ponies. Shetland ponies are friendly and loyal to their keepers but they are a bit aggressive towards the people they don’t know. Other than this little issue, they are easier to raise and inexpensive to keep. Read more about How Much Does a Shetland Pony Cost?

Coat color

Black, dark brown, bay, dun, cream, roan, palomino, champagne, and chestnut 

Distinguishing feature 

Widely spaced eyes, high alert ears, short broad back, thick long mane, heavy coats, and short strong legs


Ridding, agriculture, show horse, driving, guide dogs, and therapeutic animal

These were the few breeds that are known and registered as “Scottish horse breeds”. Now that the worth knowing information on Scottish horse breeds is served let’s enlighten you with bonus information as well.

Shetland pony is the most known Scottish horse breed

Yes, you have read it correctly. Shetland pony is the most known Scottish horse. Shetland pony got famous as the kid-friendly horse.

Though other ponies have also been giving rides to kids and teenagers Shetland pony somehow stole all the fame. Besides giving playful rides, this hardy creature can also assist in pulling carts, plowing fields, and carrying peat and coal. So, if we look at the grounds Shetland ponies serve in, it would not be hard to judge why this breed put all other Scottish horse breeds to shade.

Scottish horse breeds are famous as ” draft giants”

Before we get into the details, let us enlighten our readers what “draft horses” actually are. Well, draft horses are work horses that perform harder tasks than the regular breeds. The draft horses, across the globe, have been pulling heavy loads, ploughing fields, and other such high demanding tasks.

The Scottish horse breeds, as they are used to surviving in worse living conditions, are just as hardy and strong as the draft horses. So, because of their ability to perform heavier, high demanding tasks, they are famous in the horse world as “draft giants”. These draft giants has been serving their keeper just like the draft horses should be.

Scotland is known for it’s ponies

As there is just one full-sized horse breed registered under the Scottish horse breed heading in the record and the books of history, Scotland is more famous for it’s ponies. The Shetland pony got more fame to it’s country than the other three Scottish ponies; Highland, Galloway and Eriskay.

As there is nothing left to add further, let’s head to wind up today’s discussion with the few most Googled questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What horses are native to Scotland?

There are a small number of horses that are registered as Scottish horse breeds. The horses are Clydesdale, Eriskay Pony, Galloway Pony, Garron, Highland Pony, and Shetland pony.

Are there any Scottish horse breeds?

Yes, like Scottish cattle there are Scottish horse breeds as well. Though the Scottish horse breeds are quite small in number but they are also not that minimum in number that they can go unnoticed.

Where do Shetland and Highland ponies belong to?

Shetland and Highland Ponies both belong to Scotland. Shetland to the Shetland Islands and Highland ponies to the Highlands, Scotland.

Are Clydesdale horses from Scotland?

Yes, you have guessed it right. Clydesdale is a Scottish draft-horse breed that originates from Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Are Scottish horse breeds dangerous?

No, not at all. They are just as friendly and even-tempered as the regular horses. The ponies usually get aggressive sometimes but isn’t it usual for all ponies(whether they belong to Scotland or not) to get aggressive. If we are supposed to expose the dangerous horse breed, we would say the ” Arabian” horse breed is considered the most dangerous horse breed.

What are Scottish horses famous for?

Scottish horses are hardy, they are famous for their ability to work as draft horses. The Said horses are assisting the natives in ploughing fields, pulling carts, and carrying peat and coal. So, it would not be wrong to say they are famous as “draft giants”.

Which Scottish horse breed is called ” draft giant”?

Not one breed, all Scottish horse breeds are collectively called “draft giants” because the said horses are as strong and hardy as draft horses.

Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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