History and Future of the Pony Sale in Shetland

In 1958 the Shetland Pony Stud Book Society decided to sponsor a sale of Shetland foals and, therefore, the first Sale in Shetland dedicated to ponies was held in October 1958 in Baltasound, Unst. The late Willie Peterson of Shetland Marts was the auctioneer there. Fillies made up to 116 guineas and filly foals up to 82 guineas. This was a huge improvement for crofters as before the war ponies had been selling for only ...5s and during the depression, between the wars, ponies were worthless.

The first Lerwick sale took place the following year and both sales were then attracting a fair amount of interest from outside the isles both from Mainland Britain and from abroad. A few years later another sale started in Aberdeen and later still, one at Reading.
In the 1959 sales at Baltasound and Lerwick there were 210 entries, in 1965 there were 350 entries and in 1973 numbers had shot up to 732. It is therefore ironic that by 1997, due to a down turn, the Unst sale was discontinued and since then any breeder from the outer isles wishing to sell or purchase ponies must come down to the Lerwick sale.

There have always been peaks and troughs in the Shetland pony market throughout the years and entries were down again in Lerwick in recent years but Shetlanders feel it would be unthinkable not to have a sale in Shetland, given that the Lerwick sale is now the oldest in the country. We have therefore considered new ways of promoting and improving the Shetland Sale to, hopefully, attract more sellers and buyers. We are doing this in conjunction with the Shetland Livestock Marketing Group and Aberdeen and Northern Marts and will have i-bidder in place againfor this years Lerwick Sale. This has proved sucessful, allowing potential buyers to bid on-line for ponies without incurring the cost of travel to the Shetland Islands while still having the option of transport to Aberdeen for any ponies purchased.