Is it that kids have no fear? Or are they just so close to the ground already that they don’t worry about falling off? Whatever the reason, the Shetland Pony Grand National is just too cute!
The Shetland Grand National was first run in 1981 and was created to benefit charities. Money is raised through individuals or companies who sponsor the ponies and the money goes directly to the charity. More than $500,000 has been raised to date. The races are two-and-a-half laps around a ring over fences that are no more than 2′ high. The total length of the race depends on the size of the ring.
Participation in the event is restricted to registered Shetland ponies and riders between the ages of 9 to 13 and who are no taller than 5’1″. There are only 10 runners so aspiring racers must qualify for one of the coveted places. First, they must compete for a year in jumping, dressage and eventing events. After that year they can start the qualifying process (to race in the Grand National each child must win one race) which begins each year in May at Windsor. There, 40 riders try to prove to the judges that they can control their ponies at top speed and over jumps. Over the course of the qualifying season, that number is whittled down to 10.
I’m not sure I was ever small enough to ride a Shetland pony but wow, does that look like fun!