So highly prized was the Shetland pony that one of the island’s earliest laws dictated that if anyone should “cut any other man’s horse tail or mane” they would face “the pain of ten pounds” — a considerable sum of money at the time. The exorbitant fine reflects the seriousness of the crime and the Shetland islanders’ dependence on their fishing and their ponies in order to live. Today, the Shetland and all of the UK’s native ponies are still highly valued. They’re all tough and hardy, and most can carry a fully-grown adult with ease. Small ponies similar to Shetlands were known to be in what is now Scotland and its islands since the time of the Picts, the first settlers. Undiluted due to their isolated home, the ponies were uninfluenced by oriental blood. They worked the land, carried peat and seaweed (both used for fuel) and survived on meagre rations. Fishermen used hairs from the ponies’ tails as fishing line — hence that law.