Pony Evaluations 2011

This year’s Shetland Pony Evaluations took place over the weekend at Gott Farm, Tingwall, proving a great success for all involved. The Evaluation Scheme, set up by the Pony Breeders of Shetland Association (PBSA), gives Shetland pony breeders the opportunity to have their stallion or mare fully evaluated by three senior panel judges. The scheme is entirely voluntary and its main aim is to ensure that at least, the quality and purity of the Shetland pony is maintained and at best, it continues to improve.

Ponies are evaluated in two sections – Junior ponies (less than 6 years) and Senior ponies (6 years and over). Ponies are awarded a Gold, Silver or Bronze certificate, depending on their category of achievement. This year saw six stallions forward for evaluation on the Saturday; three junior and three senior stallions. Five of these stallions achieved a Silver award, with one stallion achieving Gold.

This year, for the first time, the scheme offered evaluations for mares as well as stallions. Three mares were forward for evaluation on the Sunday, all senior mares. One mare achieved a Silver award with the remaining two mares achieving Gold.

To enhance a pony’s award, the scheme offers an opportunity to participate in a temperament and performance test, chosen from three disciplines – ridden, driven and long reining. This year there were three stallions forward for the performance tests, 2 doing long reining and one being driven, all of which achieved Gold awards. One stallion in particular is now the first stallion to have completed all three performance tests along with his in hand evaluation and we hope this is the way forward for the scheme demonstrating the versatility of the breed. This year has also seen stallions who have previously been forward as junior stallions, returning for evaluation as a mature stallion and gaining a higher mark.

The wide interest shown and commendation on the PBSA’s stance on Shetland Pony Evaluation, received from outside the Islands, both from the UK and abroad, indicate the marked preferences of many people for fully evaluated stallions, mares and their progeny. In the current market conditions it is important for the Shetland pony breeders to take advantage of such initiatives to promote the Shetland pony from Shetland, as it is evident that evaluated ponies and their progeny are gaining recognition at shows in and outwith Shetland. In order for a scheme such as this to continue, it is reliant on the continued support of all Shetland pony breeders and we urge you to join with us in our efforts to uphold the Shetland pony breed standards. The Shetland Pony Evaluation Scheme was run successfully in Scotland last year and we hope to see the scheme run again later this year in Scotland and the north of England.

The Committee of the Shetland Pony Evaluation Scheme are grateful for the continued support of the exhibitors and organisers and wish to express their thanks to everyone who helped make the event a success. Thanks to David and Marlene Robertson from Gott and Trondra Shetland pony stud for supplying the venue, to the Judges for travelling from the UK mainland to participate in the event, to Millgaet Media for their sponsorship and to Debbie Main for being our vet on duty for the event. We look forward to next year’s Shetland Pony Evaluations, which will once again be held at Gott Farm, on 28th and 29th July 2012.

If anyone would like more information regarding the scheme or are interested in putting a mare or stallion forward for evaluation please contact Leona Smith, Area Organiser, Bretta, Dunrossness, Shetland, ZE2 9JG, (01950)460531 or spesareaorganiser@hotmail.co.uk.