The Washington International Horse Show’s (WIHS) Shetland Pony Steeplechase is back for a third year and it promises to be just as adorable as the title suggests. The races “are run like professional racing events with a bugler, race caller and photo finish, but in miniature–the jockeys are youngsters from seven to 14 mounted on traditional Shetland Ponies racing over a course of mini-hurdles,” WIHS states on its website. How cute is that?!
The event will take place at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., this Thursday, October 22 and this Saturday, October 24. Thursday is “Barn Night,” while Saturday is “Grand Prix Night.”
In an interview with Garden & Gun, show director Nara de Sá Guimarães said, “The steeplechase teaches kids a lot of responsibility. They start waking up early and feeding their ponies. Then they get them tacked up and ready to race.”
Two of the jockeys spoke with Garden & Gun about this year’s competition. Taylor Willie, a 12-year-old from Maryland, will ride Olney Kushion. She said this of Shetland ponies: “They can be really naughty. They will run off with you sometimes, go the opposite way, or kick another pony.”
Savannah Smith, a 10-year-old also from Maryland, told Garden & Gun that she gives peppermints to her pony, Knight’s Taffy. “And before a jump I say, ‘Come on, come on, come on, let’s make it!’ She jumps everything I ask her to jump.”
The winner of the Shetland Pony Steeplechase will get a Charles Owen helmet. Other awards are also given, including “Safest Ride,” and first through eighth place, according to Garden & Gun.
If you’re not in the Washington, D.C. area but would still like to watch the races, you can do so here.
To learn more about the Shetland Pony Steeplechase races, visit the WIHS website.