Welsh Ponies are.....

History and Origin of the Breed

Welsh Pony

The original home of the Welsh Mountain Pony was in the hills and valleys of Wales. It was there before the Romans. Its lot was not an easy one. Winters were severe. Vegetation was sparse. Shelter, most often, was an isolated valley or a clump of bare trees. Yet the Welsh Pony managed not only to survive but also to flourish. 

Led by proud stallions, bands of mares and their foals roamed in a semi-wild state, climbing mountains, leaping ravines, and running over rough terrain. This sort of existence insured perpetuation of the breed through only the most hardy of stock. Hence, the development of a pony with a remarkable soundness of body, a tremendous endurance, and a high degree of native intelligence.

Even an edict of Henry VIII (1509-1547) that all horses under 15 hands be destroyed did not eliminate the Welsh. Hiding in desolate areas where his persecutors were reluctant or unable to go, it continued to live and reproduce, preserving for mankind a distinctive strain of pony that today has generated enthusiasm among breeders and pony lovers all over the world.

Down through the years, the Welsh pony has served many masters. There is evidence to support the belief that it pulled chariots in vast sport arenas. It has worked in coal mines, on ranches, and on postmen’s routes. It has been pampered by royalty and served on the farms of the poor.

That the Welsh pony carries a trace of Arabian blood seems beyond doubt. It is likely that the "Arab-like" appearance has been in place since the Roman occupation. Arabian type horses accompanied the Romans from the African campaigns and were abandoned in the United Kingdom when the Romans withdrew in 410 AD. Also, some discreet infusion of Thoroughbred, Eastern and Hackney blood may have occurred from that date. The Welsh Pony, however, 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. The breeders of both fine light horses and smaller ponies have successfully crossed with the Welsh Pony. The Welsh has an unusually high capacity for transmitting his best qualities through carefully selected crosses. Exceptionally good show-type animals are often produced in this way. The breeder of Welsh ponies and cobs derives a wide variety of dividends from his efforts.

The Welsh Pony and Cob Society was founded in Wales in 1901 and their first studbook was published in 1902. The original classification for Welsh ponies was Section A, the Welsh Mountain Pony. With a great need for children’s riding ponies Section B, the Welsh Pony, was added in 1931. With Section A ponies as its foundation, the breed standard for Section B is the same as for Section A but ‘more particularly the Section B pony shall be described as a riding pony, with quality, riding action, adequate bone and substance, hardiness and constitution and with pony character

Welsh Cob

Over the years, evidence has been found indicating that native breeds in Wales have existed prior to 1600 BC. Even Julius Caesar, upon his traveling to Britain in 55 BC, was enthralled by the Britons and their exquisite chariot horses. According to documentation in the 15th century, the Welsh Cob was part of the essential string of mounts for the British knight. A Welsh Cob or "rouncy" was used to lead the mighty fighting horses known as destriers. As the destrier's natural gait was the trot, the Welsh Cobs had to cover great distances matching the warhorse stride-for-stride at the trot. To this day the forceful and ground covering trot of the Welsh Cob is legendary. During the crusades (1100 - 1500), the Arab stallions brought back to Wales by the Crusaders left their definitive stamp on the Welsh Cob. This blend of the Arab and native type is evidenced by the excellent Cobs of today. The Welsh Cob has made outstanding contributions to man both in war and peace. In 1485, Henry Tudor came to the throne of England only with the efforts of the Welsh Militia mounted on their swift and hardy Welsh Cobs.

Up until 30 or 40 years ago, the Welsh Cob was so valuable to the British War Office that premiums were paid to the best stallions. The War Office used the Cobs for the mounted infantry and for pulling heavy guns and equipment through rugged, mountainous terrain not easily surmounted by motorized vehicles.

In peace, the Welsh Cob (prior to motorized vehicles) was the quickest transport for doctors and businessmen. Quite often, the sale of a Cob was dependent on how quickly he could cover a predetermined distance without laboring. This also forged the way for many of the famous old trotting matches, such as were used to test the original Morgan Horse.

Originally in the first British Stud Books (1902), the Welsh registry listed the Welsh Pony of Cob Type as Section B (12:2hh to 13:2hh), and the Welsh Cob as Section C (13:2hh to 14:2hh) and Section D (14:2hh to 15:2hh). In 1907, the upper height limit for the Section D was removed. In 1931, all Sections of Cobs were combined and labeled "C." This encompassed all sizes of Cobs. In 1949, the Cob Sections were changed to the current standards - Section C as 13:2hh and under, the Section D being over 13:2hh without an upper limit.

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