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Shetland ponies and snow machines: festive film embraces the magic of Christmas


  • Accomplished equine actors Albert and Ernie have once again captured the spirit of Christmas, this time with a little help from their friends.

    Devon-based trainer and film-maker Emma Massingale’s latest video, in partnership with NAF, stars Shetlands Albert and Ernie, Connemara Evenos, Irish sport horse Custard, Charlie the donkey, and Hungarian vizsla Douglas, as the gang get ready for Christmas. Everyone can be seen lending a helping hoof or paw as they put up a Christmas tree and put presents around it, and one half of Emma’s acting “A team”, Ernie gets creative with a snow machine.

    The festive fun was captured at Powderham Castle, a former British Eventing venue, in Devon.

    “I used to event there many years ago. I thought it would be amazing to use their courtyard because they have red doors and lovely stainwork and I love that vintage feel,” said Emma, who had to film “one handed” owing to a shoulder injury she sustained in a carriage-driving accident three months ago.

    “Doing the NAF Christmas video is a big thing in my diary and something I love doing. Christmas is all about making people smile, getting into the spirit, and embracing the magic and I definitely did not want to miss that!”

    Emma said the video captured everyone’s characters.

    “Ernie is very cheeky and Albert is very well behaved. If you had two children Ernie would be the naughty second child! He is so funny, he loves it and does things in his own way. I barely have to tell him to do anything,” she said.

    “It was great to include Custard, who I bred from my event stallion Marcus. The Shetlands are always popular on videos but it’s nice to add some other elements too. This was Charlie’s first appearance on screen and to me donkeys are the epitome of Christmas. Douglas’s trick was the hardest – anyone who knows anything about vizslas knows getting them to sit still is a challenge. He’s definitely embracing life at full throttle. In the video you can see his tail and nose twitching, he’s like ‘every bit of me that’s allowed to twitch is twitching!’. He’s a very intelligent dog and good fun.”

    Emma hopes to be off “box rest” soon and has a UK-wide tour lined up for 2022 – as well as more videos in the pipeline.

    “It’s been three years since I’ve been on tour with the horses. We’re taking the whole team of 17 horses from April until the end of June. The horses are going, my Connemara liberty team, the mules, the ponies, and some the public haven’t met yet – it’s going to be great,” she said.

    “I’ve been choreographing and doing lots behind the scenes and I’m very excited about it.”

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