American Shetland Pony Nominated for USEF Horse of the Year

Michelle LaGrotte-Barcus and her Modern American Shetland Pony Heza JackRabbit, who has won two National Championships in Modern Roadster. Rabbit is the first Shetland Pony to be nominated for the Horse of the Year title. (Photo courtesy of Howie Schatzberg)

Rockville, MO (December 22, 2010) – Heza JackRabbit, a Modern American Shetland Pony, may only be 46” tall but he just became larger than life as one of five horses from the entire country in the running for the USEF Horse of the Year title. Rabbit, who is registered with the American Shetland Pony Club (ASPC), is a six-year-old black stallion and Reserve National Grand Champion Roadster Pony.

“I am very excited for Rabbit and for the American Shetland Pony Club,” said Michelle LeGrotte-Barcus, the proud owner of Rabbit. “I am honored that he is the first Shetland Pony to be up for the Horse of the Year title. I told Rabbit about it and he was excited too, but he thinks his nomination means he gets extra Nicker Makers which are his favorite treat.”

LeGrotte-Barcus, who owns Dreamland Shetlands in Rockville, Missouri, said that as a child she watched the movie “The Black Stallion” and dreamed that someday she would have a black stallion of her own. “I just never thought he would only be 46” tall,” LeGrotte-Barcus said, adding that she fell in love with Rabbit the first time she drove him and decided to buy him before getting out of the cart. “The first time I saw Rabbit, in March of 2007, I fell in love. He was quite a handful and I thought he might not be ready for an amateur but I bought him anyway because I knew he was going to be a special pony one day.”

Rabbit, who was bred by Cathy Harris, has lived up to LeGrotte-Barcus’s belief that he would be a handful. “Actually he is just loaded with personality,” she said. “He has no idea that he is small. He talks to all the girls, he rears up and whinnies when you bring his food and he begs for Nicker Makers. He got his name because when he spooks he jumps like a jackrabbit. But when Rabbit gets to the show ring he becomes a show pony. He loves the ring. He is like a little sports car. You have lots of power and you can feel the gears shift and he loves to spin the wheels coming out of the turns. Rabbit is a true show pony!”

Rabbit has been trained by Jim Knight throughout his career.  Rabbit has won two National Championships in Modern Roadster, one with Knight and the other with LeGrotte-Barcus. “Rabbit and I have won 15 classes in the open driving division, despite me being an amateur driver,” LeGrotte-Barcus said, adding that at the recent ASPC Congress Show in Oklahoma she and Rabbit were part of a two pony workout in the Modern Roadster Amateur Class. “It was 106 degrees that day and still in the high 90s by show time. The crowd was really into our class and the moment Rabbit’s hooves hit the ring the crowd cheered loud and louder with each pass. The louder they got the bigger Rabbit got. He loved it,” LeGrotte-Barcus said. “Rabbit gave 110% that night in the heat and it was still the biggest thrill I’ve ever had with him. The crowd loved him and as we left the ring they cheered. They say it was one of the best amateur classes in years.”

Michelle LaGrotte-Barcus takes her hat off to Heza JackRabbit. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Cook)

As a nominee for the USEF Horse of the Year, Rabbit’s legacy will live on as LeGrotte-Barcus plans on breeding him to five mares in the Spring. “Rabbit wasn’t just purchased to be a show pony, but also for his breeding,” LeGrotte said. “Both his parents were successful show ponies and are in the Shetland Pony Hall of Fame. I have the hopes that he can sire offspring with his talent and personality.”

“The American Shetland Pony Club is thrilled that a Shetland Pony has been nominated for the USEF Horse of the Year. Rabbit may be small, but he is certainly in the big leagues with this nomination,” said Johnny Robb, Marketing Director for the ASPC.  “Fans of Shetland Ponies have already discovered how versatile and wonderful these small equines are, and it speaks volumes that Rabbit has been named as one of only five nominees in the entire country amidst all breeds. He really is an amazing pony and we want to congratulate Michelle and Rabbit on their nomination and this great honor.”  Robb, whose six year position with the ASPC ends on December 31st of the this year, added, “I can’t think of a better way to end my small equine marketing career than having a Shetland Pony nominated for the USEF Horse of the Year honors. Around the office we refer to it as the HOTY (Horse of the Year) nomination and Rabbit is certainly a hottie!  I hope all our members and small equine fans will vote for him.”

For more information on the American Shetland Pony Club visit their website at www.shetlandminiature.com or call (309) 263-4044.

The American Shetland Pony Club, the American Show Pony Registry and The American Miniature Horse Registry are non-profit organizations established to preserve and refine the bloodlines of these small equines and promote the enjoyment of small equines. Recognized as the oldest and most versatile registry in the United States, the American Shetland Pony Club offer a variety of programs for Shetland Pony and Miniature Horse enthusiasts of all ages.  Visit their website at www.shetlandminiature.com or 81-B East Queenwood Road, Morton, IL 61550.

For more information contact the:

American Shetland Pony Club

Johnny Robb, Director of Marketing

www.shetlandminiature.com

ASPC 309-263-4044

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