Fenton Kirkland and his Shetland pony Toffee crushed the competition in his in-hand class at a show in the U.K. Fenton is three.
Complete with jaunty cap, pocket square and toddler tummy pushing out his dapper vest, Fenton wowed judges, who pinned the pair ahead of 30 grown-ups in the class.
Fenton got the Shetland pony, who is just two, for his last birthday and practices every day. His aunt Sharon Howells, who shows horses herself, sees a bright future for the young equestrian. “Fenton is animal-mad,” she told the Express. “He loves horses and has also got two chickens. The way he has started he’ll be at the Horse of the Year Show before too long.”
If he does, he could get some tips from veteran rider Harry Edwards-Brady. Harry is three. This fall he became the youngest competitor ever to ride in the prestigious show. He finished seventh out of 28 in the leadline class–on the youngest pony in the ring. His Dartmoor pony, Divine, is just four.
“The class lasted 70 minutes with all the riders in the ring at the same time. It’s a long time for a three-year-old to sit on there,” his mother, Emma Edwards-Brady told the Daily Mail. “When he is on his pony his concentration levels are so high, although I admit they’re not always so good when he isn’t.”
It might help to start kids early. Emma rode while pregnant with Harry: “I must have been about four or five months pregnant when I was training for a judging qualification. I rode 60 horses that day.” She put him in the saddle when he was just a few weeks old. Apart from riding, he told metro.co.uk that his favorite things are “rides on tractors, finger painting and ice cream.”
Though there certainly seem to be more little boys in britches on the other side of the pond, Harry and Fenton still have one challenge: finding manly riding togs. “Mums say boys are turned off horse riding by ‘girlie’ clothes,” claims a headline from Horse & Hound for a story lamenting the pink and bling swath sparkling across the kiddie equestrian apparel industry. “Everything is geared to girls – pink brushes, bling jods, nothing in masculine colors,” said one mother. “When you look at the top showjumpers there are more men than ladies so shouldn’t we try to encourage boys into the sport?”
[WFP photos: Sidelines/Lauren R. Giannini]
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