Two Shetland ponies from Devon, UK, were taken on the boat trip of a lifetime to trace their ancestral roots in the Shetland Islands in Scotland.
Albert and Ernie went on a Who Do You Think You Are-style trip with their owner Emma Massingale a horse whisperer where they met their distant relatives and ran wild with the local herd.
Ernie who was rescued four years ago from Bodmin Moor in Cornwall by Massingale is related to one of the first Shetland ponies on the Shetland islands.
“The Shetland ponies are very special as they aren’t much bigger than a large family dog, this got me thinking: How come they are so small?” Massingale explained. She was keen to explore the history of Shetland ponies and how they live in the wild.
“I took Albert and Ernie on a boat out to a remote island where a wild herd runs free, so that Albert and Ernie could meet some ponies their own size and I could learn more about them,” says Massingale.
The ponies’ boat trip mirrored the historic way Shetland ponies were moved from one island to another by boat. The ponies travelled via motorboat to the islands northeast of mainland Scotland. But, it wasn’t easy. They had to battle high winds and large pods of orca.
Massingale and the ponies had practiced boating on a local lake beforehand to see what they made of travelling by boat.
“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.”
During the adventure, Massingale and the ponies tried out some of the old traditions that their ancestors would have been involved in. She, flanked by her ponies, collected peat, made fishing lines to catch dinner and learned about the role of Shetlands in crofting, a form of farming.
Now, that’s a beautiful tail of adventure.