The New Zealand

Shetland Pony Breeders' Society (Inc.)

*** Riders wanted for the Shetland Pony Grand National Steeplechase 2019 ***

We are currently looking for 3 to 4 small riders to complete the Steeplechase Team for this year, as sadly some of our riders have outgrown the ponies.

Children need to be kind, confident and proficient riders and will ideally weigh under 35kg and be under 135cm tall. 

We practice for 7 to 8 weeks, starting at the end of September. Practices are after school (3.45pm) and weekends – an average of 5 practices per week.  Training takes place in Marshland, and current riders live north of the city, in the Rangiora to Okuku areas so car-pooling is an option if you live in that vicinity. 

Riders must be available to ride at the Canterbury A. & P. Show on Show Day, Friday 15th November (Steeplechase Day), and Wednesday 13th November (Shetland Ridden Section), the Rangiora A. & P. Show at Labour weekend, 26th October  (ridden section) and the Shetland Ridden Show (7th December). This is a huge commitment for families, but is heaps of fun and a once in a lifetime experience for you and your child. 

If you can meet all these requirements and this sounds like you, and your child would like to try out for the team, I would love to hear from you J

If you are still interested after reading the above, please email me at:  [email protected].  Many thanks.  Lesley

The Society

The New Zealand Shetland Pony Breeders Society  Inc was established in 1979.

The aims of the Society are to:

  • Maintain the register of Purebred Shetland ponies in New Zealand
  • Promote the Shetland Pony
  • Provide information to breeders, owners and anyone interested in the Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony is the smallest of the British Native ponies.  They are native to the Shetland Isles off the Northern coast of Scotland, where they have roamed the hills for more than 2000 years. The Islands are frequently subjected to fierce gales, rain and sleet with temperatures little above freezing. Over the centuries, the ponies have evolved characteristics such as the ability to eat seaweed, salty grasses and even drink salt water. They also possess larger nasal cavities than other breeds, which has the effect of warming the freezing air before it reaches the lungs.


The Crofters on the Islands used the ponies to carry peat and for transport. They were an essential part of everyday life. The Shetland Pony is most renowned for their role as Pit Ponies in the coal mines of England. In 1870 Lord Londonderry founded the Londonderry Stud to breed ponies for the mines. Many ponies from this stud were sold to studs on the mainland and the ancestors of these ponies were exported all over the world, including New Zealand.


Today the breed is well established in New Zealand, with the Shetland Pony proving to be very popular with both children and adults. Shetland Ponies are known for their intelligence, wisdom and strength. It is often said that they may be small in stature, but have the courage and confidence of a horse many times their size.

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