WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Washington International Horse Show’s wildly popular Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series, presented by Charles Owen, will be held in May and October 2016, commencing Memorial Day weekend at the Devon Horse Show. The high octane sport features junior jockeys in the saddle racing the cutest, fluffiest, Shetland Ponies to the enjoyment of spectators of all ages.
The first stop in the series is the historic Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in Devon, Pa., on Sunday, May 29, and Monday, May 30, and it concludes in the fall with the finals at the Washington International Horse Show on WIHS Barn Night, Thursday, October 27, and Grand Prix Night, Saturday, October 29, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Introduced in 2013, the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase races, dubbed "D.C.'s newest--and cutest--sport" by the Washington Post, are run like professional racing events with a bugler, race caller and photo finish, but in miniature. The jockeys are youngsters from ages seven to 14 mounted on traditional Shetland Ponies racing over a course of mini-hurdles.
"We've had an overwhelming response to the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Series from our fans," said WIHS President Victoria Lowell. "Not only is it really exciting to watch, pony racing is also a great way for kids to get into equestrian sports. Not too many people know that Kent Farrington, currently ranked #6 in the world in show jumping and a frequent competitor at Washington, used to race ponies."
For those unable to attend in person, the races at Devon and Verizon Center will be streamed live by USEF Network at usefnetwork.com, and archived on WIHS.org. Fans can also follow WIHS on Periscope (@WIHS) for exclusive behind-the-scenes and live race action.
An exciting social media contest will have race fans studying the race card for each pony’s winning form. The #PonyPower Prize Sweepstakes will take place May 29 and 30 in conjunction with the races at Devon. Fans can enter to win a Swag Bag of official WIHS merchandise including VIP tickets to the 58th Annual Washington International Horse Show, October 25-30 at Verizon Center. Entry details are available below.
Well-established in the United Kingdom, pony racing is growing in popularity in the U.S., thanks in part to Maryland-based U.S. Pony Racing, LLC (USPR), organizer of the WIHS exhibition series, which runs flat and jumping pony races at events throughout the region, including at Pimlico.
"Our partners at USPR work closely with the children and ponies to ensure they are fully prepared for a safe, fun, and exciting race day," said Bridget Love Meehan, WIHS Executive Director. "We love including sports across equestrian disciplines at WIHS, especially those like pony racing that are such fun to watch."
Ongoing sponsor Charles Owen is no newcomer to pony racing. The Wrexham-based helmet maker has been a significant supporter of pony racing in the U.K. since 2005.
"Charles Owen is delighted to continue its support of the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Series," said Roy Burek, Managing Director of Charles Owen. "With our long association with pony racing in the U.K., we're especially excited to be a part of its growth in the U.S. The WIHS Series at Devon and Washington offer an ideal showcase and we encourage everyone to come out and experience it."
The 58th annual Washington International Horse Show will take place October 25-30, 2016, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. For the show schedule, tickets, hospitality and more, please visit wihs.org.
For more information on the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Series, visit www.wihs.org/shetland-pony-steeplechase.