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Welsh Ponies-The Perfect Family Horse...Uh, Pony

Updated on October 9, 2010

Girls and Horses

Young girls love horses. I was no different as a child. I cannot remember a time that I did not want a horse. I had read all the books, National Velvet, The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka, Misty Of Chincoteague and so many more. I had learned that a horse was the greatest friend a girl could ever have.

Living in the suburbs on Long Island, I was assured that owning a horse was not a viable option. Therefore I picked the next best option and asked for riding lessons for my 9th birthday present. (The following year I asked for a trip to the Museum of Natural History...I was always more interested in experiences than possessions.) Imagine my pleasure when my wish was granted!

I began taking lessons at a place about an hour away. I have no idea where it was, only that the woman who taught me was a wonderful, loving person. I not only learned how to ride, but on rainy days learned how to care for a horse. I find it amusing now to think my parents paid for me to do chores such as mucking out stalls and brushing the horses. You may find it amusing to know that I loved the chores almost as much as I loved the riding.

This woman had many horses of all types and ages. I did not take private lessons, but took lessons with other children. We all had our favorite horses, and some of mine were the Welsh ponies. Their dispositions were gentle and agreeable, making them a perfect match for a new rider.

Welsh ponies are very versatile and can be ridden by all skill levels. These smart creatures seem to know when you are new, and they take extra care with you. It was as if I was being taught by the horse as much as by the teacher. My love for these beautiful animals took hold and remains with me to this day.

A Short History

Welsh ponies originated in Wales, a small and beautiful country located on the western border of the island of Great Britain. Wales is a country of mountains, valleys and coastline. The weather varies due to the changing geographic conditions. This diversity led to the development of an extremely hardy and intelligent species.

Welsh ponies are said to be originated from the prehistoric Celtic pony. No-one really knows when these ponies came to Wales, but we do know they existed prior to 55BC and the time of the Roman occupation. It seems that Julius Caesar was so impressed by these ponies that he imported them to Rome to use as chariot horses. They were a great favorite of the charioteers for their endurance and their heart.

Over the centuries the Welsh pony has bred with Arabian horses. Dyoll Starlight, considered the father of modern Welsh ponies, had Arabian blood in him. Arabian horses were bred over the years for endurance, intelligence, and friendliness. They are high-spirited, but this trait is tempered by the Welsh of the pony.

The Welsh have used these fine animals to ride, pull plows, and pull wagons. The Welsh coal miners used these ponies in the mines. Welsh ponies have been used by postmen and by the calvary. Today they are mainly kept for pleasure and for show.

In the late 1800's the Welsh pony was imported to the United States. They were renowned for their friendliness and ease of training. In 1957 there were 2,881 Welsh ponies registered in the United State. Over the years this breed has gained popularity, having all the greatest American traits...adaptability, friendliness, endurance and heart. As of 2010 there are more than 45,000 Welsh ponies registered in the United States.

Mac Geyver and Machno Carwyn are both Welsh...

The Difference Between Ponies and Horses

Ponies are generally shorter than horses. Horses measure 14.2 hands (a hand is 4 inches) or taller at the withers (withers is the tallest part of the shoulder located at the base of the neck). But this rule does not always hold true. Arabian horses may be smaller than 14.2 hands and still considered horses. Falabellas are always considered horses even though they only grow to approximately 8.5 hands. Obviously it is more than mere height (or lack of) that makes a pony a pony.

Ponies also differ in appearance from horses. Their heads are smaller, wider. and their eyes are bigger and bolder. Ponies have short and sturdy cannon bones, thicker barrels and necks, a shorter back and thicker and coarser manes, tails and coats.

Ponies are made for strength and endurance. Their bones are denser and stronger than a horse's. I guess you could say it's like comparing a dwarf to an elf. A pony will pull a load twice it's weight, but the largest draft horse can only pull it's own weight's worth.

Ponies seem to be more resistant to extreme weather and diseases than horses. They are also known to be more intelligent. At times their intelligence may make them seem stubborn. Remember that the pony will learn easily, and will train you to their whims when possible.

She Says It All!

A Pony For Everyone

Welsh ponies come in four distinctive classes. Each class retains the classic Welsh characteristics of endurance, intelligence and friendliness. They mainly differ in their height and uses.

There is no other breed of pony or horse today that is suitable for all age groups as the Welsh pony is. From big to small, the Welsh has something for everyone. This pony can be used for pleasure riding, barrels, jumping and more.

Let's look at the four classes and their differences:

Welsh Mountain Pony (Section A)

The Welsh Mountain Pony is ideal for younger children. Growing no more than 12.2 hands they are an ideal first ride for children. Welsh Mountain Ponies are widely loved for their endearing personalities and friendly temperments. This web-site gives excellent advice on how to look for your child's first pony. It seems they know, as I do, that every pony is not for every person. Owning a pony is not a spur of the moment purchase, and one must do their research well.

Welsh Riding Pony (Mountain Pony Section B)

As your child grows and develops as a rider, the Welsh Riding Pony (or Welsh Mountain Pony Section B) will grow with them. These ponies are a little larger than the Section A types, growing to 14.2 hands. The Section B pony possesses a more elegant ride and jumping capabilities. Usually these ponies will have some Thoroughbred or Hackney blood incorporated into their backgrounds. This pony will meet the challenges a slightly older child wants.

Welsh Pony of Cob Type (Welsh Pony Section C)

The title of Welsh Pony of Cob Type is limited to a pony of 13.2 hands or less. Wikipedia states that the Welsh Pony of Cob Type "exemplifies the classic build of the historic cob. It is said that good show cob should have "the head of a lady and the backside of a cook." These ponies are good for jumping and for pulling carriages, being known for their easy temperament and strength.

I think cobs are very cute because of the hair that grows around their hooves. I love this feature in ponies and horses. The "fringe effect" is well known to gain a girl's heart. We all do love long silky hair, don't we?

Welsh Cob (Section D)

The Welsh Cob Section D is a minimun of 13.2 hands and has no upper limits. This "pony" is ideal for adults and children alike. Retaining the easy-going temperament of the other Welsh ponies this type is large enough that an adult does not feel bad riding one. Granted the other ponies are strong enough to be ridden by an adult, the adult may feel strange riding a smaller horse.

These ponies were the destriers of legend. Do you remember King Arthur and his knights? They all had a destrier (or war horse). I'm sure you have read of the special bond between a knight and a destrier, but I bet you never realized that these stallions were Welsh ponies.

Before the advent of the automobile, these ponies were the fastest conveyance for doctors. Many the life was saved due to the speed and endurance of this breed. This section is all that for the experienced rider. But, these animals are gentle enough for an inexperienced rider also.

I Love Welsh Ponies

I hope that you now understand the difference between ponies and horses, and why I so love the Welsh ponies.  Yes they can be stubborn, but they are smart enough to learn a new trick if we take the time to teach them.  I truly feel these ponies are the best place to start your child's teaching of equestrian skills.  They will love and trust these ponies....a feeling that will be unmatched by all but the pony themselves.  I have found that these "ponies" form a loving and lasting relationship with "their" people.  What can I say?  I love Welsh Ponies!


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    • profile image

      Seamus 5 years ago

      Mardi. Seamus did you sell him because my horse is cold Seamus but I dont now were he has been born .How did he look ? Please write back. How old woud he be now ?

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      Michael, Welsh do have a bit of Arabian blood in them...I think it is part of what gives them their proud look. Both breeds are beautiful. :D

      Mardi, Seamus is a wonderful name for a Welsh. They do have minds of their own, don't they. Thanks.

      DREAM ON, Thanks, they are very intelligent animals also. Each has it's own personality.

      faithfulpen, I first imaginary friend was Pegasus.

      shervy, I hope you get to see a pony in person someday. They are like horses, but not like them at the same time. It will be fun.

    • shervy profile image

      shervy 7 years ago from Kigali,Rwanda

      really nice article and even better photos

      Here in Rwanda we do not see Horses or Ponies but we are used to seeing horses in the mountainous regions of India and in some cities as Police horses but never had the chance to see a pony yet.

    • profile image

      faithfulpen 7 years ago

      I adore horses, and especially ponies. I am one of those girls who always wanted a horse. I use to pretend I was on one on the playground at school as a child, making the sounds of getting one to gallop as I put my hands up into the air as if I was really riding one, holding on to the make believe reins. I sometimes had friends who would do the same as we rode on an imaginery field of dreams.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      Horses and ponies are so beautiful.I can see how anyone could easily fall in love with them.Nice animal hub.

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi 7 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      I had a Welsh Cob growing up, name of Seamus. He was a wonderful pony but really had a mind of his own. Thanks so much for this wonderful hub.

    • profile image

      Natural Horsemanship 7 years ago

      I like ponie horses..

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      I agree! Welsh ponies make for a perfect family horse. We have 3 Arabians but I like Welsh ponies too!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you, Disturbia for stopping by, reading and commenting! :D

      Beth, The Welsh are a wonderful breed. I'm very glad you liked this hub. Thank you very much!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      My daughter and I love horses and she's been in love with the Welsh pony since she could point to a picture. She's grown too big to ride a pony, so now it's Canadians, Belgians and Morgans. However, the beautiful and loyal Welsh is still in our hearts. Thank you for a great tribute to the beautiful Welsh pony!

    • Disturbia profile image

      Disturbia 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for writing this beautiful hub, and for all the lovely pics too.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      Cathi, Thanks! I love Welsh Ponies, so I had a lot of fun writing this.

      AARON, I'm very glad you liked it. I love your photos!

    • profile image

      AARON99 7 years ago

      Wonderful hub really. Keep it up.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 7 years ago

      I love horses too, and have always admired the Welsh Ponies! Thanks for a great Hub, and the great pictures!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      alekhouse, Thanks, I really love these ponies!

      sheila, They are very special. So gentle and good natured...they are wonderful animals! Thanks! :D

      travel_man, I've not seen the movie, but I want to now. I will look for it. Thanks for the info!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 years ago from Ohio

      Mom, I am almost certain that Adam had at least some Welsh in him. He was a wonderful and loving horse, and very gentle with new riders. I remember that man who said he was barely more than a pony, but Dad rode Adam without a problem. And, of course I remember Pegasus also. He kept me company on many a long ride in cloudy weather. I remember he didn't like to come out much on sunny days, he didn't want to be seen.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I've seen ponies in Wales, when we went ashore in the city of Holyheart. Have you watched the movie, "Ruffan"? He's not a stallion (a mere pony for a comparison) but did a good part in serving as inspiration to the people during the Great Depression in America. Thanks for this hub, k@ri.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      You made the case for these ponies, they do seem special. Loved the photos, too.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Kari, Thanks for an interesting hub. I love animals and these ponies are adoreable.

    • profile image

      mamakaren 7 years ago

      I wonder if Adam was a Welsh Pony? I remember the stable owner who said that he didn't think he was a horse! I also remember your very early (imaginary)companion, Pegasus, the flying horse! Thanks for the sweet memories!