Local animal takes coveted prize as Shetland pony show comes home

Elaine Tait with the supreme champion Merkisayre Dion, owned by George Tait from Burra. Photo: Dave Donaldson
Elaine Tait with the supreme champion Merkisayre Dion, owned by George Tait from Burra. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The annual celebration of the Shetland pony came home for the first time over the past week, and fittingly a local pony was named overall champion.

The culmination of the Shetland Pony Breed Show festivities took place at Clickimin at the weekend, and attracted entries from across the UK – the furthest travelled coming from the Isle of Wight and Northern Ireland.

A huge number of spectators, possibly up to a thousand, made for a great atmosphere. Some had travelled from as far away as Australia with others, not just horsey folk, coming for a good day out.

The weather on Saturday was glorious and judging of the 580 entries started at 9am and did not finish until after 7pm. Eventually it was one of Burra man George Tait’s ponies, the three-year-old filly Merkisayre Dion, which took the title of supreme champion and received the coveted Waterside Trophy.

One of the highlights of the weekend included the Grand National, a steeplechase featuring two laps of jumps with a race up the middle of the rugby pitch, made all the more exciting by the shouts of the onlookers and the ongoing commentary. The winner came from the Knix Stud in north Yorkshire.

A marquee selling hot food, sweets and snacks, and stalls offering pony paraphernalia, arts and crafts, the day proved popular with both pony enthusiasts and families looking for a fun day out.

Fiona Dally of the organising committee said the event was going really well. She said: “The weather has been excellent as well so it’s been really good.”

Shetland Pony Stud Book Society president Guy Hurst said it was great to have the festival in the home of the ponies and that the standard of entries was impressive.

“It’s going extremely well. It’s a perfect setting and perfect weather and you couldn’t ask for much more than that.
“There’s been a very good standard of entries. The breed show is always popular but everyone has really pulled out all the stops as it’s not often you get the breed show in Shetland. Everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves.”

The visitors included six-year-old Carys Nield and her family, from Sandwick, who had a great day looking at all the different ponies.

Carys said: “There was a four year old that was my favourite, she was very pretty.”

Although the rain arrived on Sunday the event continued with a pageant illustrating the role of the Shetland pony through history. People dressed as Vikings to show that the ponies had been an essential part of life in those times. Other displays showed how the pony had hauled coal from the mines and its work on the croft.

Full results and photos in this week’s Shetland Times.


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