Shetland ponies taken on boat adventure to meet relatives

Horse whisperer Emma Massingale taking her Sheltland ponies on a 'practice run' trip on a boat in Devon before her trip. Picture: SWNS

Horse whisperer Emma Massingale taking her Sheltland ponies on a 'practice run' trip on a boat in Devon before her trip. Picture: SWNS

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This is the moment one of Britain’s leading horse trainers took her ponies to meet their relatives on the Shetland Islands - on a tiny boat.

Emma Massingale, 34, accompanied Albert and Ernie back to their native roots as part of her latest equestrian challenge.

Emma Massingale with ponies Albert and Ernie. Picture: SWNS

Emma Massingale with ponies Albert and Ernie. Picture: SWNS

During the month-long adventure the ponies travelled around the rugged islands with Emma, running free with local herds.

And they also took a trip out on the water to mirror the historic way Shetlands were moved from one island to another by boat.

Emma was pictured loading them on to a little motor boat before they sailed to the islands northeast of mainland Scotland - battling high winds and large pods of orca.

Emma, who lives in Holsworthy, Devon, said: “We had practised on a local lake beforehand to see what they made of it.

Horse whisperer Emma Massingale on Shetland Isles with one of the two ponies. Picture: SWNS

Horse whisperer Emma Massingale on Shetland Isles with one of the two ponies. Picture: SWNS

“The first time we tried, Albert got his front feet on the boat but left his back feet off, but they were really good by the end - Ernie had a little look but then hopped straight on.

“It’s a wildlife haven out there with dolphins and orcas, quite weird alongside the ponies.”

Once in the Shetland Islands, Emma used her relationship and trust with Albert and Ernie, and no equipment, to interact with local wild ponies.

Ernie, who Emma has owned for four years and rescued from Bodmin Moor, is related to one of the first Shetland ponies on the islands.

Emma on a 'practice run' trip on a boat in Devon before her trip with the ponies to Scotland.  Picture: SWNS

Emma on a 'practice run' trip on a boat in Devon before her trip with the ponies to Scotland. Picture: SWNS

Emma camped on the islands and between liberty work, Albert and Ernie were able to mix with the local herd.

She also met the Shetland Pony Society and traced the ancestry of her diminutive companions.

In the past, working Shetlands on the islands were used to carry peat and seaweed.

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Albert tried out traditional baskets, which ponies wore to transport goods.

Emma said: “They’re the strongest of all our native breeds and are incredibly tough.”

They also wore their very own knitted Fair Isle jumpers.

Emma is a specialist and professional horse trainer, having developed her own unique way of communicating with herds of horses.

In addition to working with horses, Emma is an adventurer with a passion for climbing, she has traversed the French and Swiss Alps and the cliffs of the UK.

Her latest adventures will be shown on BBC’s the One Show on Wednesday.

Emma said: “We drove up to Aberdeen and then went across on the ferry.

“We taught them (the ponies) how to sail in a local lake around Devon but when we got up to the Shetlands the weather was so bad we took them out on a tiny little motorboat.

“We camped and lived on the remote islands. The Shetland ponies are all so tiny.

“Where we stayed was uninhabited. I was just camping out overnight with a herd of ponies and filming myself letting my two go and mingle with other locals.

“They were not overly keen on their two newcomers to start with but by the morning they were happy with each other.

“The weather is extreme up there and there is wildlife all around.

“I wanted to know why we have ponies that are this small.

“But they are pound for pound the strongest of all our breeds.

“They are a real family asset to people on the Shetland Islands.

“My two had a go at some traditional jobs they used to do back in the day.

“We used tail hairs as a fishing line and they carried fishing baskets.

“It was exciting. I am working my way through the natives and it is wonderful immersing yourself in where they came from.

“I learned so much about how to connect with them. They are so free and so at home.

“They are designed to be in that environment. Seeing them thrive just gave me such a constant boost.”

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