Great Fun Comes with Small Horses: The WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase at Devon 2019

Photo © Emily McNeill


Although most equestrians are familiar with a Steeplechase race, not many have had the opportunity to watch one—especially ten times smaller!

The WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase gathered a large crowd Sunday afternoon at the Devon Horse Show. Trainers led the adorable Shetland ponies into the arena with their young jockeys following close behind them. Each rider was dressed in neon silks, with a matching helmet cover and goggles. The jockeys quickly mounted their horses, and the race began.

A line of seven Shetland ponies trotted down the center of the Dixon Oval, then the first rider suddenly urged her horse into a gallop. Spectators cheered on the ponies as they raced around the corner and over the first jump in quick succession. Each jockey pushed their horses to a gallop, determined looks on their faces as they approached each jump.

The show announcer only added to the excitement, giving the Devon audience quick updates on the race standings as the horses galloped around the rail. The seven jockeys soared over each jump and flew around corners all while maintaining control of their ponies.

The race was two laps long, with each rider jumping four jumps a lap. Race winner Mariah Smith and Winchester, owned by Samantha Michel, stole the lead early in the race, with Olney Smartypants and his jockey closely behind. After the last jump, each jockey turned their ponies and galloped down the center of the arena to the finish line.

Mariah Smith and Winchester galloped to the win, with the second and third place ponies following closely behind them. As each rider crossed the finish line their ponies received pats on the shoulder, and once the official results came in, a ribbon. Brynn Miller on her mount Olney Kushion won the safest rider award, which is awarded to the jockey with the safest trip around the arena. The award included a new Charles Owen helmet.

Once the race finished, the show wasn’t over yet! Jockeys took their Shetland ponies on a final victory gallop around the Dixon Oval. Spectators gave the young riders one last applause as the exhibition came to an end. The WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase is an event one wouldn’t want to miss, and one that makes equestrians wish they could gallop around mini ponies, too!

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