The Shetland Pony Stud-Book Society’s 2019 Breed Show got off to a fine start with a ridden pony and driven pony being piped onto the showground under the bluest skies Lerwick could have offered. At 60o north the temperature was in the twenties rather than the high thirties further south in England, and the glorious sunshine ensured the ponies looked amazing.

Over 300 ponies took part, travelling from all over the UK. The show was split into rings for In Hand Standard Blacks, In Hand Standard Coloured (which is any colour other than black and not just piebald and skewbalds) and In Hand Small Ponies. I really like the fact that the breed show refers to them as small ponies and not— as is the case elsewhere—miniatures, as they should be a true-to-type Shetland pony just smaller in height. There were also rings for ridden and driven ponies and working hunter ponies, showing the true versatility of this wonderful breed.

My sister and I settled in our chairs next to the Standard Black ring as that is where our main interests lie. The standard forward was fabulous and we watched engrossed for hours! A wander around the trade stands saw us getting a goody bag from NorthLink Ferries and purchasing original art from Anne Barron.

With Diva under the care of my friend Ginny back in Rutland, I was interested to watch the two-year-old filly class to see how Diva compared with others of the same age. I was delighted to see that the one I had picked out as being most like her—Bigton Beauty— was actually judged the winner! The champion standard black pony was the stunning mare Hools Janet.

At the end of a long day of judging, the Supreme Champion of the show was awarded to Merkisayre Julian, a standard chestnut three-year-old colt that we had the pleasure of seeing at a visit to the stud earlier in the week. Reserve Supreme was Beechnut of Berry, a super mare who was the overall small pony champion.

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Shetland, thanks to the Shetland Pony Effect. In addition to seeing literally hundreds of top-class ponies, we saw some amazing scenery, historic sites such as Jarlshof—where evidence of habitation can be dated back 4000 years—Scalloway Castle, and Muness Castle on Unst, which is the most northerly of the Shetland Isles. We went to the most northerly point of the British Isles at Hermaness Nature Reserve, posted cards from the most northerly post office at Baltasound, ate at the most northerly tea rooms at Haroldswick and watched seals at the most westerly point of Shetland at Sandness.  A visit to Lerwick would not be complete without a photo of The Lodberrie, the house used as the home of Detective Jimmy Perez in the TV show Shetland.

I have left a little of my heart in Shetland and will have to go back there again. It’s a unique and wonderful place to visit.

(The photographs of the Supreme Champion, Reserve Supreme Champion and Champion Standard Black with permission of Rachel Barlow.)

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