Hello Avalon or should I say “Howdy?” like in the Western movies. I also occasionally ride with an “English” saddle on contact and jump but one can also jump, usually a tad behind, in a Stock seat or Western saddle.
I Googled Shetland Pony to reaquaint myself about this Scotish breed. Briefly i found:
The Shetland pony is the smallest breed of horse, originating in the Shetland Islands. The Shetland Pony is the strongest horse for its size and can pull up to twice its own weight. Shetland Ponies are an extremely tough and durable breed, with a thick double coat in the winter. Some Shetlands can carry up to 130 pounds on their backs, but it is important to be cautious with putting too much weight on their backs because it can lead to back pain and other lameness issues. Many Shetland Ponies are long-lived, and it is not unusual for a Shetland pony to live more than 30 years.
The height of the Shetland Pony is traditionally counted in inches, not in hands. Shetlands are generally between 38- 40 inches in height, but are not to exceed 42 inches (for most American Shetlands the limit is 46 inches). Shetlands range in size from a minimum height of approximately 28 inches (7.0 hands; 71 cm) to an official maximum height of 10.2 hands (42 inches, 107 cm) at the withers (11.2 hands (46 inches, 117 cm) for American Shetlands).
The Shetland Pony is one of the world’s most popular ponies. It can be a great first riding pony for small children due to its small size and gentle personality. They are wonderful children’s mounts for pleasure riding and at riding schools. These ponies are great for harness driving and are a favorite entry in parades. Shetlands can be found at fairs for pony rides and at petting zoos. They are also used as guide animals and in therapeutic programs for the mentally or physically challenged. In the United Kingdom they are featured in the Shetland Pony Grand National, galloping around a racetrack with young jockeys.
Many “pony” breeds can be clever and stubborn and be a challenge to ride. Being under five feet tall, I like to ride ponies and small horses and find them challenging when they often outsmart me. But many horse sized 14h2″ and up can behave the same way and I prefer horses no larger than 15 hands 2 inches and not wide. As a Western rider I prefer the Western horse breeds like the American Quarter Horse, Paint Horse, Pinto Horse, Appaloosa and…believe it or not- Mules, which cannot be shown in horse shows, only in mule shows.
You are gently riding your Shetland walking around a field and s/he is healthy and happy, I can only applaud you for doing what you like with your wonderful horse. Also, the weight of your thighs and legs do not really contribute to the weight on the animal’s back, even with stirrups. And the information quoted from a Google search is a generalization, each person and horse is different and you two seem well suited for each other and need no one’s approval. I agree with you that many adults would enjoy riding ponies and the Icelandic pony is quite popular in the U.S. A much often quoted horse saying here is, “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a (hu)man. Enjoy your pnny and riding. P.S. I am an Anglophile.