Types (see below)
- Welsh Mountain Pony
- Welsh Pony of Cob Type
- Welsh Cob
- The Welsh Part-Bred
History of the Welsh Pony
Long before the arrival of the Romans and Julius Ceaser in England, the Welsh Mountain Pony was living on the hills and in the valleys of Wales. Its life was never an easy one with severe winters, sparse and low-nourishment vegetation. Winter shelter for this hardy breed comprises isolated valleys, outcroppings of rock, even stunted clumps of weather-torn trees. As is ever so, the breed was / became fit enough to survive and not only to survive but but also to flourish. Human habitation was sparse and widely dispersed, certainly not concentrated enough to allow intensive stock management. So they roamed free and in a semi wild state – herds of mares and their foals, each headed by a proud stallion, were the masters of the wild country.
Henry VIII decreed in 1541, that “nags of small stature” were to be eliminated. War horses had to be able to carry a soldier and his armour, and Henry VIII wanted to ensure a buffer of such horses in everyday use to call on if needed for war or defense of the country. So his laws prohibited the use of “any stoned horse under 15 hands” and thus lead to the culling of the smaller pones. Thankfully it did not lead to population collapse of the Welsh Pony and later, Queen Elizabeth annulled these laws.
Like other surviving English breeds, such as the Dartmoor and Exmoor, the Welsh’s isolation and remoteness from human control guaranteed a less than diligent execution of Henry’s edict. So today, pony-lovers all over the world can be thankful for the survival of a distinctive breed of pony that has brought so much joy to so many.
Over the centuries, the Welsh Pony’s characterics have meant it has been put to many uses – somewhat of an unsung hero. There is evidence that it pulled war chariots and even featured in the Roman Arena, it has worked in coal mines, some ponies never even getting to see daylight, being born and bred there. They have served kings’s armies, on postmen’s routes, on ranches and as mounts in local racing. Edward VII favoured and encouraged the use of Welsh Ponies for polo horses, and since that time it has made an ever-faster comeback.
Today, many regard the Welsh Pony as the ideal trekking pony and many consider it as the best for private driving. Loved and respected by royalty and commoner alike, its unique character is enthused about the world over.
Prior to being the ‘Welsh’ Pony, its ancestors were bred mainly in Saxony. The original influx to Wales, Wales with its climate so suited, has meant it has become its own distinctive breed.
When the Romans first occupied the UK, they brought with them horses carrying Arabian blood-lines, horses from their African campaigning. When they abandoned the uk in the fifth century most of their horse stock was turned loose or bartered, resulting in the first introduction of Arab blood. And in the middle ages, the Arabian ponies brought back by the Welsh crusader knights reinforced what the Romans started. These traces are present in the Welsh Pony today in its Arab-like appearance.
In the heyday following the industrial revolution, and before the infernal combustion engine, those in Wales who had to travel for business turned to the Welsh Cob. A whole industry built up around this, with trotting races used as a method of selecting the best both for transport and for breeding. In South Wales, a 35 mile uphill route was used – and the Welsh Cob would meet this challenge in under three hours ‘never slackening their pace’. Before the steam train, the bearers of names like Rocket, Comet, Meteor and Express were Welsh Cobs as the first stud books show.
Types of Welsh Pony
Welsh Mountain Pony
The harsh conditions that the Welsh Mountain pony has endured for the centuries since its first introduction has ensured its sound constitution, iron hard limbs and great intelligence. When combined with the legendary Welsh temperament, you can see why it makes the ideal children’s pony. With worldwde popularity, they can be seen ridden and driven just about anywhere.
The head of the Mountain Pony should be small, with neat pointed ears, big bold eyes and a wide forehead. The jaw should be clean cut, tapering to a small muzzle; the silhouette may be concave or “dished” but never convex or too straight. The neck should be of a good length and well carried, with shoulders sloping back to a clearly defined wither. The limbs must be set square with good flat bone and round dense hooves, the tail set high and gaily carried. Action must be straight both in front and behind, quick and free with hocks well flexed.
Height: not exceeding 12hh in the UK, 12.2 in the USA and Canada.
Welsh Pony of Cob Type
The Welsh Pony of Cob Type is the stronger counterpart of the Welsh Pony, but with Cob blood. Active, surefooted and hard they are ideal for so many purposes both for adults and children. Like all the Welsh Breeds they are natural jumpers and they also excel in harness – there are in fact few things that they cannot be used for. As a result, their true worth has been fully realised in recent years and their numbers have increased in line.
Height: not exceeding 13hh
The Welsh Cob is the embodiment of strength, hardiness and agility; the head shows great quality with Pony character. Bold prominent eyes, a broad forehead and neat, well-set ears. The wider and greater the eye, the deeper into the pony’s true heart you will see.
The body must be deep, on strong limbs with good “hard wearing” joints and an abundance of flat bone. Action must be straight, free and forceful, the knees should be bent and then the whole foreleg extended from the shoulders and as far forward as possible in all paces, with the hocks well flexed, producing powerful leverage.
The Welsh Cob is a good hunter and a most competent performer in all competitive sports, in recent years they have had great international success in the driving world and the world has come to recogise their abilities in all spheres.
Height: exceeding 13hh with no upper limit
The Welsh Part-Bred
All the types of Welsh Pony show evidence of their common ancestor, the Welsh Mountain Pony. The best inherit the strong constitution, good bone, courage, activity and equable temperament that has led to their worldwide renown. It is therefore not surprising that they are in such demand for crossing with other breeds, and there is a Welsh Part-Bred Register in the UK for horses, cobs and ponies whose breeding shows not less than 25% of Registered Welsh blood. The large Welsh Part-Bred has proved an enormous value in most equine disciplines – show jumping, eventing, dressage and driving. There is a half-welsh registry in the USA where one parent is a registered full blood welsh.
Characteristics of the Welsh Pony
The Welsh Pony has maintained its own dominant physical characteristics over the years, demonstrating that the Welsh crosses well with many other breeds, and this is, to some breeders, an important aspect of its unusual versatility. It has an unusually high capacity for transmitting his best qualities through carefully selected crosses. Excellent show-type animals are often produced in this way. The breeders of Welsh ponies and cobs derive a wide variety of dividends from their efforts.
The Welsh Pony has a quality head, long neck, well-laid and strong shoulders, deep girth, short muscular back and quarters, a clean, dense leg line and stolid feet. They have a tall carriage and are good jumpers. They have a free and definite fast trotting action, eating up the distance with forceful impulsion from the hocks. Key characteristics: Versatile, superior performance, hardiness.
The Welsh Pony stands up to 13.2 hh.
The Welsh ponies and cobs can be any colour except Piebald or Skewbald.
The Welsh Ponies and Cobs are valued for their kind, loyal nature and gentle disposition, often making them the first choice of pony or horse for all. And amongst those riding centres that cater for the disabled, the Welsh Pony’s temperament makes them highly prized.
Uses of the Welsh Pony
The variety between the types means that there is something for everyone,
- Child’s riding pony: the Welsh Pony
- Lead-rein: Welsh Mountain Pony
- Pony Club mount: Welsh Pony Cob Type
- Adult’s exciting ride or drive: the Welsh Cob
The Welsh Pony of riding type
…is a popular mount of Pony Club members because of its versatility and ability. Being larger than the Welsh Mountain Pony makes them popular for teens and light adults and they perform equally well either under saddle or in harness. The Welsh Mountain Pony is an excellent children’s riding pony. Its tractable temperament makes it ideal for even young children to ride. Its elegant good looks make it a natural in the show ring. They are also well-suited to work in harness and are very popular in competitive driving events.
The Welsh Pony of Cob Type
…is popular as a children’s field hunter and can also often be seen in the jumping ring. The Welsh Cob was originally used as a farm and harness horse, but its spectacular action has made it popular in the show ring, in harness and nowadays in dressage competition.
The Welsh Pony and Cob Society
The Welsh Pony and Cob Society was established in 1901 by landowners, farmers and those interested in the Welsh Breeds, who recognised the importance of documenting and recording the pedigrees of Welsh Ponies and Cobs.
In 1902, the Society published the first volume of the Welsh Stud Book, which, today in its 80th Volume, contains the breeding details of four types of Welsh Pony/Cob. There is also a Welsh Part- Bred Register recorded in the Stud Book, for horses and ponies with not less than 25% of registered Welsh blood in their parentage.
Today, the Society is the largest of Britain’s ten native Breed Societies, with many Area Associations and Overseas Societies having been formed that provide a network of “Welsh” enthusiasts across the world. Britain’s native breeds are the envy of the world, having some of the purest genetic pools for breeding to be found anywhere.
It is vital that the Welsh breeds are maintained in a pure form to enable future generations to enjoy the legacy entrusted to the Society members, the custodians of Welsh Ponies and Cobs.
The Society relies heavily on its membership to provide the essential financial support needed to continue to protect and promote Welsh Ponies and Cobs. Become a member of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and support the Welsh Breeds.
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