Epic Farm, LLC  ~  240 Cherry Hill Road  ~  Middlefield, Connecticut  06455

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History

Epic Farm

 Copyright 2014  -   Epic Farm, LLC

 All rights reserved  // Last Update  11/10/18

The Welsh Pony - a history             * Our sincere thanks to Auriga Farm for providing a majority of this history *

  

Ancient Origins

The origins of the Welsh pony date back to 8000BC when Celtic people and their animals established themselves in Wales, Ireland and the Hebrides (Shetland). Small foundation horses like the Caspian accompanied them, and they were interbred with the native Exmoor pony to produce a slightly larger (13h) and lighter riding and chariot horse.  Ponies were very much in evidence in Wales during the conquest of Julius Caesar (55-54BC), who wrote about their speed and docility as chariot horses and riding horses.
Modern research has shown the Caspian horse brought the infusion of "eastern blood" in the early beginnings of the Welsh pony breed.  The Caspian was also the foundation for the Arabian horse; Caspian horses accompanied the Romans into Britain and many remained behind when the Romans withdrew in 410 AD.

The next mention of the Welsh pony is in 1188AD when the Welsh hills were reported to be "full of ponies".  The theory is that much of the final type of the Welsh pony and cob was established at this stage through the influence of Barb and Arabian stallions brought back from the East by the Crusaders, but there is no firm evidence to confirm the theory.  The coming of the Normans and Saxons, who were accompanied by their more cold blooded ponies (Icelandic and Flanders draft horses), diluted the hot blood in many Welsh ponies and were
the basis for the development of the Welsh Cob.

In 1535 England's King Henry VIII ordered the destruction of all horses under 13h because they were too small to carry the weight of a knight in full armor and they were eating valuable grazing.  Fortunately, the inaccessibility of the mountainous areas of Wales provided a safe harbor for the small mountain ponies in the region and left them untouched by the heavy infusion of French draft blood being bred into their cob cousins.  The death law was finally repealed by Queen Elizabeth I.


Arabian and Thoroughbred Influence


By the 1700's the turning out of Thoroughbreds (i.e. Merlin in 1750) by the William/Wynn family near Raubon Hills and various Barbs by the Vaughn brothers of Rug in the early 1800's began to influence the size and type within the breed.  By 1892, between 1000 and 1500 ponies were counted on the Longmynd Hills, and that number can probably be multiplied by 10 to account for the ponies in the other hill regions.

The growing need for small riding ponies and carriage ponies for children and ladies of the gentry led to a combined effort during the 1880's to bring the Welsh mountain ponies into the limelight, and that was achieved through
DYOLL STARLIGHT, one of the foundation sires of the modern Welsh Mountain Pony.  Starlight's lineage goes back to an Arabian horse (the Crawshay Baily Arab) who was turned out on the Brecon Hills in 1850.  This stallion is the ancestor of Dyoll Moonlight, the dam of Starlight.  Also, a gray Arabian stallion owned by Mr. Williams of Aberpergwm was a strong influence (his blood is also part of Moonlight's lineage) and is credited for introducing the grey gene into the hill ponies.

However, it is the Wentworth prefix in the Welsh pony lines that is most responsible for the infusion of Arabian blood.  Lady Wentworth, who bred the Crabbet Arabians, was renown for breeding her Arabians (most notably the Polish Arabian stallion Skowronek) with her Welsh pony mares, as she considered the Welsh/Arab cross to be "the most beautiful pony in the world".
Skowronek was foaled in 1909, bred at the famous Antoniny Stud in Poland -
his sire was imported from Turkey in 1907 as an "Original Arab"; Skowronek was homozygous grey, about 14h, but beautifully proportioned with sweet character. His influence on the Welsh pony is extensive, as he was a prolific sire; his influence in the Arabian horse comes through his famous son Raffles, who was also used in Welsh cross breeding programs.

By far the most influence of the Arabian blood can be seen in the Tan-Y-Bwlch ponies that were bred from Arabian horses crossed with the Welsh Mountain Pony in the 1930's.  Foundation sires TAN-Y-BWLCH PENWYN and TAN-Y-BWLCH BERWYN were both half Arabian.  This heavy Arabian influence in the Tan-Y-Bwlch Welsh ponies also influenced the Coed Coch lines, which were founded on Tan-Y-Bwlch bloodstock, and which accounts for the strong Arab features and grey coloring in this lineage.  Two other breeds that had much influence during this period were the Thoroughbred (via the small TB stallion Merlin who was turned out with a Welsh herd) and the Hackney Horse, which figures prominently in the lineage of the Welsh Cob.


Founding of the Registry & Breed Standards


The Welsh Pony & Cob Society was founded in Wales in 1901, and their first studbook was published in 1902, containing the records of 38 stallions and
571 mares.  The original classification was Section A (Welsh Mountain Pony), but with the great need for children's riding ponies, Section B (Welsh pony) was added in 1931.  The breed standard for Section B is the same as for Section A, but the Section B pony is described as a riding pony with quality riding action, adequate bone and substance, hardiness and constitution with pony character.

In 1908 the Commons Act was passed, which restricted the turning out of entire animals onto Common Land.  Only approved stallions, whose owners were paid a premium, could be turned out with the mares.  In 1911 it was decided to ban Hackneys from registration into the Cob sections of the Welsh Stud Book as there were several incidences of pure Hackneys competing and winning at the Welsh National pony shows.

In 1918 the Horse Breeding Act was passed in which every breeding stallion
had to be licensed annually after a veterinary inspection.  By the late 1920's,
a tremendous demand for quality children's riding ponies encouraged the Welsh Pony Society to allow two stallions of Eastern blood (at least one-half or more Arabian) into the Stud Book.  Those two stallions were TAN-Y-BWLCH BERWYN (by the Barb stallion Sahara) and CRAVEN CYRUS (by King Cyrus, a full Arab
son of Skowronek).

In 1930 the Stud Book was restricted to registered animals, and in 1931 the height limit for Section A's was fixed at 12 hands.  The present day classification of Sections A, B, C and D was voted on and accepted in 1949; the Welsh Part-  Bred Register was approved in 1950.

Influential Sires - 1900 to 1950

DYOLL STARLIGHT (foaled 1894/died 1929, gr, 11.2 1/2h) was bred by H. Meuric Lloyd (Dyoll is Lloyd spelled backwards) from his part-bred Arabian pony mare. Mr. Lloyd's family was among the oldest Welsh families in Wales, and his stud farm, with Dyoll Starlight as his foundation sire, began a dynasty of siring beautiful ponies.  Among his sons and daughters were the very Arab-looking GREYLIGHT (exported to Australia), BWLCH QUICKSILVER, BLEDDFA SHOOTING STAR, GROVE KING COLE, GROVE STAR OF HOPE AND LADY STARLIGHT.  
DYOLL STARLIGHT had s tremendous show record, winning first each year at the Royal Show from 1898 to 1901.  When he was retired in 1912 (at age 18), he was placed at the Royal Welsh Show and awarded a silver medal.  Mr. Lloyd's health began to fail in 1919 and Starlight went to spend the rest of his days with Lady Wentworth at the Crabbet Park Arab Stud, where he sired WENTWORTH SPRINGLIGHT, among others of note.  It was a condition of his sale that Starlight would never be sold from Crabbet, but it is believed that he was sold with a group of mares to Spain and died there at 35 years of age.

Another stallion to have tremendous influence on the Welsh Mountain Pony was COED COCH GLYNDWR (foaled 1935/died 1959, gr 11.1h) who had two strains of DYOLL STARLIGHT on his dam's side.  Through both his sire REVOLT (1909) and his dam DINARTH HENOL (1927) GLYNDWR traced back to the Hackney stallion HAMLET PRINCE OF DENMARK (1892) who traces back to the famous DARLEY ARABIAN (1700).

The two most influential stallions of this lighter type of pony were:
  • CRAVEN CYRUS (1927) by KING CYRUS (by the Polish Arabian SKOWRONEK) out of IRFON LADY TWILIGHT (1913) who was by DYOLL STARLIGHT.  This pony was more than 3/4 Arabian and was the most influential through DOWNLAND LOVE IN THE MIST.
  • TAN-Y-BWLCH BERWYN (foaled 1924/died 1953) by SAHARA (an Arabian Barb) out of BRYNHIR BLACK STAR by BLEDDFA SHOOTING STAR, a son of DYOLL STARLIGHT.  BERWYN was strongly influential in the development of the Coed Coch lines.

CRIBAN VICTOR (1944) provided a useful outcross - he was sired by CRIBAN
WINSTON and gained his size from his dam CRIBAN WHALEBONE, who was of Cob parentage, with both Hackney and Thoroughbred blood.  CRIBAN VICTOR spent most of his active life at the Gredington Stud and left a great mark on Section B ponies throughout the stud.

Originally, Section B was established as a work pony and was essentially a pony of the Cob type.  But in the 1930's the increasing demand for children's riding ponies created a change - Section B was set aside for riding ponies and Section C was established for ponies of Cob type.  

The biggest expansion of the Section B ponies came in the 1950's

The most influential stallions for the foundation of Section B ponies were:

  • TAN-Y-BWLCH BERWYN (1924) often called the "Father of the Section B" ​ as almost all B ponies trace back to him
  • SOLWAY MASTER BRONZE (1959)
  • HARFORD STARLIGHT (1944)
  • DOWNLAND DAUPHIN (1959)

The Modern Welsh Pony - 1960 to Present

The Welsh Pony of the 21st century has found a permanent place in the world of show hunters, driving ponies and in the fields for foxhunting.  As popularity and demand increased, so did the sums of money being paid for the "perfect" hunter pony that could do the fences and win in the Model classes.  Shows began to offer classes for smalls (up to 12.2h), mediums (12.3h to 13.2h) and large ponies (up to 14.2h).  While the Section A's were in ample supply, there were only 26 registered Section B Welsh ponies in 1959, and many of those were small mediums.  The large pony hunters were mainly Welsh ponies crossed with Thoroughbreds.

By the 1970's, a more up-dated and larger version of the Section B began to take shape with ponies of a more Thoroughbred breed type.  A taller yet still typey Welsh pony was in increasing demand, and three main breeders decided to change their breeding strategy to fill this need.

The first breeder to redirect her program towards a taller Section B Welsh pony was Nancy Bedford of the Findeln Stud (Canada).  She asked her friend and fellow breeder Howard Black to go to England to find a suitable stallion to be used as the basis for a new direction in breeding.  He found *BROCKWELL SPIDER, a 13.2h grey stallion (by Harford Starlight out of the bay Section B mare Fayre Ladybird), and imported the stallion back to Findeln Stud. BROCKWELL SPIDER showed the heavy influence of Arabian blood through his Wentworth pedigree, with many crosses back to BLEDDFA SHOOTING STAR only two generations removed, but he also brought in the height desired for the taller Section B, and bay/chestnut color from his dam's side.  FINDELN CINNABAR (by Findeln Blue Danube x Findeln Ruby - a daughter of *Brockwell Spider) was the senior herd sire at Findeln in the early 1990's, and the Findeln bloodlines are still found in the majority of the top winning Welsh hunter ponies today.

The other two stud farms involved in achieving a more modern Section B were Farnley Farm in Virginia and GlanNant in New York through their respective foundation sires:
*DOWNLAND DRUMMER BOY (a bay who doubles back to the 12h DOWNLAND SERCHOG of Criban ancestory) and
*CUSOP SHERIFF, whose generational bloodlines are close in to SAHARA (Arab Barb) and several Cob lines.

It was said of *DOWNLAND DRUMMER BOY that he was both patient and kind, and that he passed his gentle temperament to all of his get.  Drummer Boy was the maternal half-brother to DOWNLAND DAUPHIN, who had a great deal of influence on the modern Section B's, particularly through his son DOWNLAND CHEVALIER (who grew to 13.3h and therefore could not be shown).  
DOWNLAND DRUMMER BOY appears in almost every Farnley pedigree, which probably accounts for the many Farnley ponies that have won and are winning in the hunter pony show ring.

*CUSOP SHERIFF was used by GlanNant, Shedandoah and Findeln Stud through the 1960's and 1970's, siring some top Welsh Section B ponies for the show ring and breeding stock.  His breedings with FINDELN CRICKET (a black daughter of *BROCKWELL SPIDER) and SHENANDOAH MOONSTEP produced outstanding breeding stock for show ponies in the hunter ring.

In looking at the USEF Leading Sires listings for Hunter Ponies over the past decade, there are several sires whose dominant influence is undeniable, beginning with FARNLEY LUSTRE (1956) who has been called "The Sire of the
Century", and whose sons and daughters appear in nearly all the winning pony pedigrees.  Perhaps his most famous son is CYMRAEG RAIN BEAU (1974 - still on the leading sires list 14 years after his passing), who sired a dynasty through his sons BLUE RAIN (double-bred Farnley Lustre) who has been at #1 for many years; WOODLAND'S VELVET RAIN who just moved into the #1 spot; HIDDEN CREEK'S RAIN FOX and ISLANDER.  He is also the sire of the notable FARNLEY BELSHAZZAR and many producing daughters.  BLUE RAIN has several successful siring sons, perhaps best known are BLUE WHO and BLUE FOX.

Another dominant family comes through FINDELN BLUE DANUBE (1970) whose sire goes to Cusop Sheriff and Criban Victor through GlanNant Limerick/his dam is Coed Coch and Criban blood.  His two most famous siring sons are GAYFIELD'S VIDA BLUE (1976 - dam is line bred to Coed Coch Glyndwr and Bleddfa Shooting Star) and CLOE OLYMPIAN (1983 - dam's line is Coed Coch Glyndwr and Farnley Lustre).  CLOE OLYMPIAN'S most successful sons are CLOVERCROFT BRENIN and CLOVERCROFT POLARIZED, both have been in the top 20 of leading sires.

Next are SLEIGHT OF HAND (1981 - his sire was by Solway Master Bronze out of a mare by Brockwell Cobweb, a full brother to Spider; his dam had Tan-Y Bwlch Berwyn and Coed Coch Madog in her 2nd generation); CAROLINA'S RED FOX (1985 - his sire was by Solway Master Bronze and he was out of a double-bred Downland Dauphin mare); TELYNAU ROYAL CHARTER (1993 - sire Eyarth Rio is Downland x Brockwell; dam is heavy Downland & Criban Victor); LAND'S END POSEIDON (1998 - he is Downland Chevalier on all 4 corners).


And the next chapter of these wonderful ponies will be written by the foals now arriving as they take their place in Welsh Pony history  . . .  










   DYOLL STARLIGHT - gr, 11.2 1/2h 1894

   Dyoll Glas-Allt x Dyoll Moonlight

   (Arabian decent)​










   GREYLIGHT - gr, 11.2h 1900

   Dyoll Starlight x  Myfanwy 










 BLED​DFA SHOOTING STAR - gr, 11.2h 1901  Dyoll Starlight x Alveston Belle










​  SAHARA (an African Barb)










  SKOWRONEK  (a Polish Arabian)










  TAN Y BWLCH BERWIN - gr, 13h 1924 

  Sahara (African Barb) x Brynthir Black Star










​  COED COCH GLYNDWR - gr, 11.1h 1935

​  Revolt x Dinarth Henol

​  Revolt was of Hackney & Cob bloodlines










​  CRIBAN VICTOR - bay roan, 13h  1944

  Criban Winston x Criban Whalebone

  Dam's sire was 14.3 Welsh Cob breeding










  COED COCH MADOG - gr, 11.3h  1947  

  Coed Coch Serwyddwr x Coed Coch Mefusen

​  Both parents were sired by Glyndwr










  COED COCH BALLOG - bay, 13.2h 1956

​  Criban Victor x Berwyn Beauty










​   CUSOP SHERIFF - gr  1959










​  DOWNLAND DAUPHIN - dkb/br, 13h  1959










 DOWNLAND DRUMMER BOY bay,

 13.3h  1961 

​ Downland Rondelay x Downland Dragonfly










   GLANNANT TANGO - gr, 13.3h 1966

​   Cusop Sheriff x Duntulms Two Step










     FARNLEY LUSTRE - gr, 13 h, 1956

     Gretton Blue Boy x Cui Glitter 










    FINDELN BLUE DANUBE - gr, 13 h, 1970

    GlanNant Limerick x Waiten Blue Feathers 

    









   CYMRAEG RAIN BEAU - gr, 12.3h, 1974

    Farnley Lustre x Upland Ripple