YES! Shetlands are ridden western!!!
Shetlands are not too small for children to ride. They are just the right size for a child to learn balance, how to stop and how to turn a horse. They can share their secrets while riding a pony sized just for them. They can join in the fun activities with their older, larger siblings and their families – all while being on a horse sized just for them.
Shetland Ponies can do all the things a larger horse can do.
Our 3 daughters grew up riding Shetland ponies and later Shetland pony crosses (larger ponies from our breeding program). They’ve ridden western in riding lessons, out on the trails with many other horses, in open Horse Shows, 4-H Horse Shows and in “Gaming” shows (speed events – such as Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Flag Racing, etc).
Here are just some pics of the various times our ponies have been ridden western.
At home –
AJ was our 2nd Shetland (by 2 weeks) and a stallion. He could not go to shows and at first, didn’t go to trail rides. As the girls learned to ride him and as he learned his role/job in riding work, he went on many trail rides. These rides were often in public with many other riders and most never knew that AJ was a stallion. Skye spent several years riding AJ. Madira and Sierra both later took riding lessons on him – at other barns with instructors other than Mom (me). Then, AJ was often used for riding lessons to start other students. He also spent many years going to Birthday Parties, Bar-B-Que picnics, school functions (Halloween rides seemed to be a favorite for several years in a row) and local Church functions as a lead line pony. AJ spent 17 years as a riding, lesson, driving and stud pony with LP Painted Ponys. He was a much beloved family member and is very much missed.
Patty (Montana’s Patton’s Kate) was our 1st Shetland and our 1st mare. She ultimately didn’t stay with us long – but her short stay graced us with 3 foals and all 3 of our daughters learning to ride. Skye spent the least amount of time riding her (graduating right to AJ) and she eventually became Madira’s pony before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I’m not sure that the girls really remember her – but both Larry and I have many fond memories of her besides just as a riding mount for the girls. She especially liked following Larry around while he worked on the fence and often picked up and carried his hammer around.
Magic was our third Shetland and our 2nd mare – first leased and later purchased from a woman in Florida. When at home and out on trail rides, she was usually ridden western. When Skye was showing her, she was shown hunt seat (english). When Madira showed her, she was shown under western tack and asked to do a slower, shorter strided jog over her usual long strided trot. Many other riding students learned to ride on her as well, sadly, I don’t have pictures of them. Sierra rode her a few times but Magic was one of the few ponies that Sierra didn’t get along with well.
Stuffy is our first Shetland foal out of Patty and by AJ. She was ridden both western and english but we don’t have a lot of pics…
Others riding our ponies western –
And granddaughters – Grace & Gwen ride as well.