“Perfecting and Promoting Small Equine”: USEF Virtual Session Explores the American Shetland Pony

By Tyler Bui

Sandy Croote, Chair of the USEF Shetland Committee, educated viewers in the USEF virtual session, “A History of the Shetland Pony Breed and Overview of the Benefits of the American Shetland Pony Club.” 

The USEF Annual Meeting runs January 13-15 in Naples, FL, with in-person events, but the organization is also hosting several virtual sessions via Zoom, with the aim of introducing attendees to “some of the diverse breeds and disciplines that are part of the USEF community.”

In the virtual session, Croote discussed the history of the Shetland Pony and the current structure of programs and competitions offered by the American Shetland Pony Club.  

The Shetland Pony has a rich history—bloodlines have been preserved through selective breeding in order to continue to evolve the Shetland pony and its performance abilities. 

The ASPC, established in 1888, now consists of four different divisions for Shetland competition: Modern, Modern Pleasure, Classic, and Foundation Classic. Each division focuses on specific traits to celebrate the evolution of the American Shetland. Croote elaborated on each division and outlined the various classes offered by the ASPC. 

Not only does the ASPC offer performance classes, but they also offer non-driving performance classes, youth and amateur program opportunities, and “Conquering Obstacles Overcoming Limitations” (COOL) classes. 

“We have a huge division called Conquering Obstacles Overcoming Limitations. It’s to encourage physically and mentally challenged individuals to expand their enjoyment of ponies and miniature horses by offering the opportunity to participate at pointed shows,” says Croote. “The program does not penalize individuals who cannot meet class criteria and allows modifications to make it a positive experience.”

Croote concluded the presentation with a Q&A session with the audience, and shared her thoughts on the ASPC and the Shetland breed. 

“The American Shetland Pony Club Inc., has a program for everyone. With such a diverse membership and variety of small equine, we have developed programs that help promote activities in and out of the show ring, from novice to the experienced,” says Croote. “It’s a great dynamic breed because it offers something for everyone. There’s a pony for everyone in the Shetland division.”

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