September 27, 2022

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The buzz at this year’s Dublin Horse Show centres on Teddy, a seven-year-old miniature Shetland pony from England. Having amassed a large following on Instagram and TikTok, Teddy doesn’t get far before being mobbed by fans wanting a selfie.

Jed Dillon (10), from Co Galway, has been following Teddy on Instagram (@teddytheshetland) for two years and waited all morning for a meet and greet at 1pm on Friday. “I like all the cool stuff he does on social media. If only he could talk.”

Even without speaking, Teddy has starred in television series — such as The Great with Elle Fanning — and advertisements, and was featured in a 14-page spread in Town & Country magazine.

Alice Goring, of Surrey, England, got Teddy when he was five months old as a companion for her other horses. “Sometimes the young horses get overwhelmed, so Teddy’s presence and company relaxes them. Because of a Shetland’s size, they can easily fit on the lorry with the larger horses.” Teddy stands 33 inches tall and weighs 130kg.

Because of Teddy’s gentle disposition, Goring trained him to be a therapy horse. He works with various charities in England, including visiting children with life-limiting conditions.

“He stands on a little step next to a child’s bedside and sticks his head on their bed and cheers them up. It’s the most amazing thing because you see children who couldn’t react to different things and they reach out their arm and stroke him,” said Goring.

Teddy’s catapult to stardom was accidental. After Goring had posted a few photos of Teddy online, they were widely shared across social media sites. She thinks that some of his success was Teddy being the first Shetland pony with an Instagram account and Goring’s sister, Molly, creating a clever online persona for Teddy.

Whether it’s enjoying a cocktail or hobnobbing with celebrities, Teddy is not the typical “petfluencer”.

But it hasn’t gone to Teddy’s head. Although Shetland ponies have a reputation for being naughty, Teddy is well behaved.

Goring also owns four full-size horses and another Shetland pony, Teddy’s half-brother, who is a bit more mischievous and often escapes from his pen. Meanwhile, Teddy prefers to munch on a carrot, get scratched on the neck or lay down in Goring’s lap like a dog.

When sponsor Schleich and the RDS invited Teddy to attend the Dublin Horse Show, Goring said it sounded like a big adventure. “The Irish are so famous for their horses and, as an event rider, I was excited to see what a massive Irish horse show was like.”

It has not disappointed. Teddy has met Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and tons of fans through the twice-daily meet-and-greets at the Horse Show. Fans begin queuing a half an hour beforehand.

Goring had no idea how popular Teddy would be in Ireland.

Mia Rowe (10), from Co Kilkenny, was introduced to Teddy via two of her favourite YouTubers’ channels and now follows him on Instagram. Rowe said she likes Teddy because he’s small and fluffy.

Sofia Taylor (9), from Co Down, saw Teddy featured on the Dublin Horse Show brochure. She loves Shetland ponies, so she had to meet him.

Although Teddy is a social butterfly, Goring wants Teddy to stay grounded.

“Teddy is very chill, but it’s important to us that he has a normal life at home, with a touch of glitz of glamour and charity work on the side,” said Goring.

Teddy participates in the annual Chelsea Flower Show and all the big horse shows in the UK. Each year, Teddy and Goring like to embark on one big adventure. Last year, they went to London and stayed next to Buckingham Palace. Goring is not sure where they’ll go next. For now, Teddy loves meeting new people and getting a nuzzle or two.

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