The little Shetland pony originated on the Shetland Islands, where a harsh climate and lack of food favored a small, tough animal. These ponies are descended from normalized horses brought to the islands a thousand years ago.
The islands—rugged with long, cold winters—do not grow enough food for big horses with large appetites. As the horses adapted to their hard like, they grew smaller in size. By breeding only the smallest horses, people in the Shetlands have developed even smaller Shetland ponies. Some are only 32 inches high.–Dick Rogers