If you’ve visited Tilgate at some point in the last 19 years, you’re sure to have seen our two Shetland ponies! Cinnamon (brown) was born on the 1st May 1997 and Nutmeg (brown & white) was born a couple of days later on the 3rd May 1997. They are half-sisters, sharing the same father whose name was Tiny Tim! Cinnamon is the shortest at just 7.3 hands, and Nutmeg is a little taller at 8.2 hands. They have been living here at Tilgate Nature Centre since they were six months old. Their keeper Sandra has been working with them for years and has a very close relationship with them both.
Cinnamon and Nutmeg have a nice, easy life here at Tilgate, but Shetland ponies have actually been used as work horses for hundreds of years and are deceptively strong animals – in fact, for their size they are the strongest of all horse breeds! In 1847 a law was passed to prevent children from working in mines, so Shetland ponies took over the job instead. Shetland ponies are very docile and gentle in nature and it didn’t take them long to adapt to the underground environment. ‘Pit ponies’, as they were known, were so good at their job that the last working pit pony only retired in 1999!
Cinnamon and Nutmeg live at Tilgate with two donkeys named Jimmy and Nipper. The donkeys are much bigger than the ponies but the ponies are definitely in charge – especially Cinnamon! She’s the smallest, but by far the bossiest and will push the others out of the way if something tasty is on the cards! Nutmeg and Cinnamon eat carrots, grass and hay, but their favourite foods are ginger biscuits and Polos which Sandra gives them as a special treat every now and then!
If you’re yet to meet Cinnamon and Nutmeg, keep an eye out for them next time you visit – just make sure you haven’t got any Polos in your pocket!