Watch This: Shetland Pony Grand National

They’re fuzzy and cute and piloted by pint-size jockeys… but the Shetland Pony Grand National is still serious sport at its core.

Sure, the Shetland Pony Grand National might just look like a lark to a lay spectator: the ponies gallop at top speeds over a miniature hurdle course, piloted by small youth jockeys who take the occasional tumble. It looks like a blast, at least as far as my younger, fearless self goes — between the ages of eight and 13, the limit for Shetland Grand National jockeys in Great Britain, I would have totally loved this sport.

But in reality, it’s much more than a spectator sport or a fun way to keep your kid out of trouble: many steeplechase jockeys find their start competing in the Shetland Pony Grand National, learning the ropes of a sport that requires total dedication, athleticism and grit, not to mention the ability to get up and keep riding after a fall.

This mini-doc by New York Times introduces us to the sport of Shetland Pony Grand National and the young riders dedicated to the race with dreams of riding professionally.

Shetland Pony Grand National

A pony-riding quest for speed and glory.

Posted by Op-Docs on Sunday, December 31, 2017

Shetland Pony Grand National has a distantly-related US cousin, but the British version is truly a training ground for future jumps jockeys. To learn more about Shetland Pony Grand National, visit the organization’s website.

Go riding!

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