The Shetland treatment

I cant decide whether I like Shetland ponies, do I put them in the same category as donkeys? For me, donkeys are a complete waste of space. Yes, if you are a Christian, you will praise them until the cows come home for dutifully carrying Mary on her long journey to and fro Bethlehem but since then what?

I used to look after a friend’s smallholding (chickens, goats, pigs, horses) and the one animal I found most irritating was the donkey (or donkeys in this case). This up-to-no-good pair woud stand in my way every time I needed to get to the food bin or the hay barn and just cause havoc trying to get to the food. It wasnt as if they were starving. This was after they had just been fed and all their horsey friends had disappeared into the fields to tuck into the lush green summer grass. No these donkeys could not be bothered to move, preferring to stay put by the barn and try and barge past me every time I needed to go in there. Yes they are cute, but after you have stroked their long ears for a while and cooed, they actually become very annoying when they are in-between you and getting stuff done.

Shetlands are similar. They are also very cute and fluffy but they are very mischievous. Today, while poo picking their paddock (as one of them was convalescing with a poorly foot) I was being stalked by this cheeky pair. The small black one decided to muzzle my bottom for a while and I was just waiting for the moment when the teeth would make appearance and then YEEOW! Yes the temptation to bite a fleshy red-jean clad bottom was just to difficult to resist. I then tried to move forward and noticed the pony had moved on to the strap on the side of my boot and had it between her teeth.

Only small children can ride shetlands – and even then, they are highly likely to come off or get trodden on. My 3 year old son was bucked off a shetland for no other reason than the pony couldnt be bothered to carry him. My son still rides him but this is quite stressy for me as since the bucking incident I have to be even more on my guard than before. I also have to carry a holly branch as I lead him so that the pony doesnt try and take a chunk of me while I am leading along. I figure my son would be better off looking like a pea on a drum on a Shire Horse than riding these little cheeky time bombs ready to go off at any moments lapse of concentration.

Shetlands are useful in the Shetland Pony Grand National for raising money for charity and starting off budding jockeys. They also have a special place in many people’s hearts as their first ‘ride’. They are remembered because they were naughty and despite naughtiness. ┬áSo I will not be putting Shetlands in to the equestrian room 101 for they have stayed true to their Thelwell charicatures – bringing down the most pompous and precocious of us in one move – we all need the Shetland treatment at some point in our lives.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.