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.
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.