Dartmoor carries four-year-old jockey to mini M&M crown on rider’s HOYS debut

  • EXPERIENCED lead rein pony Shilstone Rocks Thunderbird safely carried four-year-old Willow West to claim the Mountain & Moorland (M&M) Mini Pony of the Year title at Willow’s first ever Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). The 11-year-old gelding headed the M&M lead rein class on the way to winning the overall HOYS mini M&M crown.

    Owned by Brogan West, the Dartmoor by Shilstone Rocks Atlantic and out of Shilstone Rocks Snowbird, is produced and led in the ring by John Harvey, who qualified the trio at the Three Counties Equine Show.

    “This is Willow’s first year in the ring doing affiliated showing, so it was important that we found her something really safe and comfortable to ride,” said John. “We’ve always loved Thunderbird and I followed him when he was with his previous owners.

    “When he came up for sale, I told Brogan that we had to have him because for me, he is an out and out Dartmoor – really true to type with the perfect amount of bone – but he is also a brilliant lead rein pony. He’s got a lovely shaped front, which the children sit behind comfortably and it helps them feel safe. He’s also got a super temperament.”

    When not in the show ring, Willow enjoys hacking Thunderbird on the lead rein.

    “We got him in October last year,” said John. “When Brogan went to see him, I couldn’t go, but I didn’t need to see him – I knew he was the perfect pony for Willow.”

    The pony’s win in the HOYS qualifier at Three Counties confirmed John’s admiration for him: “There were 33 forward in that class and he went champion, which was brilliant. Willow was also Tiny Tot supreme on him at the BSPS Summer Championships in August, so I was confident that he’d done an indoor show and would be OK at HOYS.”

    M&M first ridden pony of the year Hannah Lee’s Welsh section A Blisland Echo, ridden by Tommy Lee, impressed the judges to stand reserve.

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