Shetland Ponies From Shetland
2014 Show Results
Viking Shetland Pony Show
In 2013, Benston Stud were asked to supply the Shetland ponies that feature in Three, the UK mobile broadband provider.
Milday Socks is the star of the show and he shows his very able "moonwalk" on the cliffs of Eshaness.
Well, it’s been utterly manic since the Three Mobile advert went live on 1st March.
My 32½” skewbald stallion, Milday Socks, (under the expert training & handling of Elaine Tait) is the star of the advert. His antics have registered well over 5 million hits on YouTube. I have to admit I’ve always been very proud of him but even more so now.
I was delighted when my riding pony Hughie (the horse behind the wall in the advert and Socks’ best pal in real life) was included so they got a scene together. In fact all our mares & fillies were used as background extras along with George and Barbara Tait’s beautiful Merkisayre Shetland Stud ponies. My piebald stallion Merrylees Nuggett was the only pony at home – poor peerie man got left out!
Bjørn Roar Larsen did a tremendous job at keeping Socks' untamed mane and tail in check and the extensions in place – not a task to undertake lightly. I love the part in the ad when George drives past on his tractor and Socks makes out as if nothing was going on but quickly resumes this fancy footwork as soon as he’s gone.
The PonyMixer app allows you to select a style of music and dress Socks in attire ranging from a punk rocker to a boyband, yip headset and all. Have you tried it out yet? Even my retained foal from last year, Benston Rhianna (by Hermits Pedlar, out of Benston Eva), got to star with Socks in the ‘Love’ option. Dance Pony Dance!!
From a media point of view it’s been crazy. We’ve done interviews for TV, magazines and daily papers. Photo shoots with photographers from south and locally and not forgetting the happy snapper who wants their photo taken with the moonwalking pony! He even got a red nose for Comic Relief Day!!
The advert is magical, light-hearted and encourages you to smile and ‘share’ with your family and friends. It shows some magnificent Shetland scenery. How lucky are we to have such breathtaking beauty on our doorstep? We so often take it for granted.
We’ve had the most incredible response. We’ve received emails, texts, phone calls and messages through social media websites from all over the world. It’s at times like these that you realise that the world isn’t such a big place after all and that a 1 minute advertisement can bring millions to chat, laugh, giggle, discuss and share a moment with someone else.
As you can see from the photos below and on our Stallions Page, Socks is a real Shetland pony who loves to roll, get muddy and caper with his friends yet he has a gentle side when he puts his head on my shoulder or nuzzles up alongside me for a cuddle.
I sincerely hope that the advert has a positive effect on Shetland and everyone’s Shetland ponies.
Thank you all for your support.
Socks the Shetland Pony
It’s been an exciting spring, summer & autumn for a Shetland pony & his very proud owner Mari Williamson of the Benston Shetland Pony Stud.
Mari’s 32½” skewbald stallion, Milday Socks, bred by John Lawrie in Mid Lothian, under the expert training & handling of Elaine Tait, shot to stardom on 1st March as the star of an advert for Three, the mobile & internet company. Although the advert was only on the television for 17 days it remained a huge success on YouTube registering well over 7 million hits. Along with George and Barbara Tait's beautiful Merkisayre Shetland ponies, Mari’s other ponies were used as background extras including her Highland riding pony Hughie (Hugh of Much - pony behind the stone wall & Socks’ best pal in real life).
Mari explained that the response has been ‘absolutely incredible. The entire spring, summer & autumn has been full on texts, emails, phone calls, messages through social medial sites, interviews & photo shoots, not forgetting visitors by the hundreds’.
Just as you would have thought interest would be tailing off, Socks & a little black colt foal called Benston Scamp was in the media eye in June when a DNA test had to be undertaken to ascertain paternity of the foal to ensure the correct bloodlines were recorded/registered. It appears that last year during the stinting (breeding) season, cheeky chap Socks swum a loch to try his luck with a mare who was partnered to another stallion (Merrylees Nuggett). Unfortunately, amorous Socks bore the brunt of Nuggett's anger so was confined to the stable for two weeks to lick his wounds & to rub salt into those wounds Nuggett was confirmed as Scamps sire. Poor Socks, unlucky in love.
Adam Henson of ‘Adams Farm’ from BBC1's Countryfile was filming in Shetland with his team & wanted to meet the international star. Along with Helen Thomson & the lasses showing their riding skills for the Shetland Pony Grand National, a gloriously sunny day down at Bigton Sands was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Adam, who farms in the Cotswolds & concentrates on native breeds & conservation, had fun on & off camera with Socks as they played & splashed in the sea. It was aired mid-June.
‘Socks has done some modelling too’ smiled Mari. All Stitched Up, who produce made to measure top quality horse/pony fleece rugs, travel boots, leg wraps, bandages, etc. wished to expand their portfolio to include Shetland Ponies of both standard & miniature sizes so approached Socks who was happy to obligue.
At the end of July, Socks was put through the Shetland Pony Evaluation Scheme which is run by the Pony Breeders of Shetland Association. A worthy test of a ponies conformation, movement & overall impression including temperament. The three international judges decided Socks to be a Gold Award winner so just goes to show that he’s a good example of the breed as well as being the most well known Shetland Pony in the world.
At the annual Viking Shetland Pony Show held on a damp & dreich Sunday in the 2nd half of August at Seafield, Lerwick, Socks was paraded, along with many other excellent ponies before Di Johnston of the renouned Parlington Stud who had travelled from Yorkshire to judge. Julian Walters travelled all the way from Devon to judge the standard pony ring, while Sarah Ross from Dollar judged the Performance (ridden & driven) ring. In typical stalwart Shetland style, the weather didn’t dampen anyones spirits & the event went on regardless. The Viking Shetland Pony Show is the only Shetland Pony dedicated show in Shetland. After much deliberation due to the high standard of ponies forward, Socks was placed 1st in the Miniature Stallion class, Senior Miniature Ring Champion & pulled in as the Overall Miniature Ring Champion.
At the end of August, Socks, Mari & her father, Maxie Jamieson, travelled hundreds of miles to the Arena UK in Grantham, Lincolnshire. With a huge smile, Mari explained that she’d been contacted by the CHAPS (Coloured Horse and Pony Society) back in April wondering if Socks would be their Special Guest/VIP to celebrate the UK Championship Society’s 30th anniversary. Greatly honoured & once the logistics had been sorted, the invitation was accepted. Following a 46 hour trip, Socks’ arrival at the showfield was announced over the PA system to thunderous cheer which startled some unsuspecting exhibitors. On the Saturday afternoon 2 ‘meet & greet Socks sessions’ were arranged so the public could have their photo taken with Socks by the events official photographer. The CHAPS committee asked if Socks could be entered into an appropriate show class to give the public another view of Socks’ life. In the Senior Miniature Class he was placed 1st & in the Miniature Championships he was pulled in as Handsome Horse Miniature Championship Reserve Champion, so, two CHAPS rosettes were presented & taken home to add to the collection & memories.
The CHAPS Evening Extravaganza was the culmination of the years showing. Mari described ‘we opened the event with a spritely trot around the entire arena with Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Everywhere’ blaring out around the Main Arena. Later in the evening we were parade leaders for all the CHAPS officials & judges. What a proud moment to stand between the flower towers before the stand & have our photo taken with all those who had so warmly welcomed us & made us part of the CHAPS family. Truly, it was a moment for gulping back the tears. Socks was treated like a celebrity from arrival till departure.’
As if the CHAPS weekend wasn’t busy enough, Socks merchandise/memorabilia was launched. This includes photos, performance mouse mats, glass coasters, notepad with pen, iPhone covers, bags, canvas prints & keyrings. These are available by contacting Mari via email ([email protected]), messaging on Socks’ Facebook page (Socks the Shetland Moonwalking Pony) or his website (www.sockstheshetlandpony.com). Hamleys toy store in conjunction with Three have produced a soft cuddly toy which is available from Hamleys website.
Mari stated, ‘The CHAPS trip would not have been possible without the help of so many people, especially Northlink Ferries & my Dad. Thank you’.
More recently, Three took inspiration from the hugely successful Visit Scotland campaign of Shetland ponies (Fivla & Vitamin) wearing jumpers. Socks dons a Fair Isle jumper designed by Three. It was knitted by Doreen Brown of Shetland Knitwear who also knitted the Fivla & Vitamin jumpers. Images of Socks modelling the Shetland white & red ‘Pony/Pug’ cardigan are to be used on the Three website & in stores as well as for Visit Scotland & Promote Shetland. Socks has also returned to your tv screens. The new advert is based on the original but a more snowy appearance, a Christmas tree, the Fair Isle jumper & Hughie sporting antlers!!
Socks is most definitely a Shetland pony with character, presence & attitude in abundance.
You can hear in Mari’s voice how proud she is of Socks and rightly so. She admits ‘I’ve always been very proud of him but even more so now. He takes everything in his stride. I’ve endeavoured to promote Shetland & Shetland ponies to the best of my ability so I hope this has had a positive effect on us all’.
Lastly but by no means least, she adds ‘Huge thanks must go to my husband John & daughter Julie who have supported me the entire time. I couldn’t have done it without you both, thank you’.
Contact details for Mari Williamson (Benston Shetland Pony Stud) are:-