|First Posted: July 18, 2009|
Sep 29, 2010
Welsh Cob Pony and Welsh Mountain Pony
The Welsh Cob in its ideal form is a larger version of the Welsh Mountain Pony. Although its exact origin, like many native breeds, is unknown, the modern horse gets much of its character from Spanish blood and the Norfolk Roadster. In the 12th Century, Gerald of Wales said of the Welsh Cob, they are "swift and generous steeds ridden into battle by the brave Welsh Princes and Chieftains." Established as a breed by the 15th Century, the Welsh Cob became essential to Welsh farm life including ploughing, hauling and transportation in saddle and harness. Later they were used in war for hauling guns and equipment over steep and rocky terrain.
Standing above 13.2 hands high, the Welsh Cob's general character is strong, hardy, and active. Its head is of pony character with bold eyes set far apart. The Cob has a strong, arched neck with a body that is slightly thick and very compact and strong through the ribs. Some silky feathering is found around the heel, but wiry, course hair is objectionable. The flex found in the hock joints allows the horse excellent action, giving it a noble character in harness.
The precise origins of the Welsh Cob are unknown. It can be said, however, that much of the Cob's character comes from the Welsh Mountain Pony. During the 11th and 12th centuries the pony was crossed with Spanish horses to create a larger horse, the Powys Cob and the Welsh Cart Horse. With the mix of the Norfolk Roadsters and Yorkshire Coach Horse, including a touch of Arabian in the 18th and 19th centuries, the modern Welsh Cob was produced. There are four stallions in particular that have influenced the Welsh Cob: Trotting Comet, foaled in 1836, Cymro Llwyd, a dun foaled in 1850, Alonzo the Brave, foaled in 1866, and True Briton, foaled in 1830.
Before stallion licensing began in 1918, the stallion breeding stock for Welsh Cobs was selected by trotting matches. Speed was recorded by stopwatch over a certain distance, with the top stallions named appropriately for such matches: Comet, Flyer, Express. One favorite course was the route from Cardiff to Dowlais in Britain - 35 miles uphill - which the best horses could complete in under 3 hours with no slackened pace.
1. Spanish 2. Arabian 3. Welsh Mountain Pony
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Distinguishing features: Hardy, surefooted, intelligent. Refined with clean bone, with substance, stamina and soundness.
The Welsh Pony designates a group of four related types of pony and horse native to Wales: the Welsh mountain pony, the Welsh pony, the Welsh pony of cob type, and the Welsh Cob.
Welsh ponies and cobs are suitable mounts for both children and adults. The modern Welsh Pony is known as a riding and driving pony. It is shown both in hand and under saddle, including hunter/jumper and dressage competition, and is a popular children's pony. They have a reputation for intelligence, friendly personalities and even temperaments, allowing them to be easily trained. The breed is used for many forms of equestrianism, including pleasure riding, as well as horse show competition. The Welsh also crosses well with many other breeds and has influenced the Pony of the Americas and the British Riding Pony. Many are also crossbred with Thoroughbreds, and other horse breeds. The Welara, a cross between the Welsh pony and the Arabian horse, has its own registry.
The original Welsh Mountain Pony is thought to have evolved from the prehistoric Celtic pony. Welsh ponies were primarily developed in Wales and existed in the British Isles prior to the arrival of the Roman Empire. They were adapted to the difficult climate of severe winters and sparse vegetation. Shelter most often was an isolated valley or a clump of bare trees. Bands of ponies roamed in a semi-feral state climbing mountains, leaping ravines, running over rough moorland terrain. Therefore the Welsh pony developed intelligence, speed and soundness, and is known for "heart" and endurance. They are tough and thrifty, with a steady, tractable, and calm nature,
When the Romans occupied Ancient Britain, they brought horses of their own, which bred with the native ponies, producing hardy offspring with substance and attractive appearance. It is believed that Julius Caesar founded a stud for the ponies on the shores of Lake Bala.
The characteristics of the breed as it is known today are thought to have been established by the late 15th century, after the Crusaders returned to England with Arabian stallions obtained from the Middle East.
In the 1500s, King Henry VIII, thinking to improve the breeds of horses, particularly war horses, ordered the destruction of all stallions under 15 hands and all mares under 13 hands. Fortunately the ponies in the wild, remote, and inaccessible mountains of Wales escaped this order.
On the upland farms of Wales, Welsh ponies and cobs would often have to do everything from ploughing a field to carrying a farmer to market or driving a family to services on Sunday. When coal mining became important to the economy of England, many Welsh ponies were harnessed for use in mines, above and below ground. In the 18th century and 19th century, more Arabian blood was added by stallions who were turned out in the Welsh hills. Other breeds have also been added, including the Hackney, Thoroughbred, Norfolk Roadster, and the Yorkshire Coach Horse.
In 1901, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society was formed in the United Kingdom, with the first Stud Book published the following year. In 1949, the sections of the Stud Book (A, B, C, and D) were introduced. The United States registry, also named the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, was incorporated in 1906.
One important stallion in the Welsh breed since the 1900s was Dyoll Starlight, credited with being the foundation sire of the modern breed, and who was a combination of Welsh and Arab breeding. From his line came an influential stallion of the Section B type: Tan-y-Bwlch Berwyn. This stallion was sired by a Barb and out of a mare from the Dyoll Starlight line.
A life-sized statue of a Welsh cob stallion was erected in the town of Aberaeron in 2005 donated to the town by the Aberaeron Festival of Welsh Ponies and Cobs to denote the area as Welsh Cob country. It was created by sculptor David Mayer.
A small feral population of about 180 animals roams the Carneddau mountains in Snowdonia.
All sections of Welsh ponies and Welsh cobs are sure-footed with sound feet, dense bone, and are very hardy. The ponies should have a well-laid back shoulder, deep chest, short back, well-sprung rib cage and strong hindquarters. Their legs should be "clean" with good bone, short cannons and correct hocks. They exhibit the substance, stamina and soundness of their ancestral bloodstock.
Welsh Section A Pony - The Welsh Mountain Pony (Section A) may not exceed 12.2 hands (50 inches (127 cm)) (127 cm or 50 inches) in the US or 12 hh or 121.9 cm in the United Kingdom.
The Section A Welsh Pony is also known as the Welsh Mountain Pony. Both the Section A and Section B ponies are more refined than those in Section C and D. They are characterized from the cob types by a large eye, small head (often with a dished face from the Arabian influence), high set on tail, and refined leg conformation, but retaining good bone and correctness.
The Welsh Pony of Riding Type (Section B) is the second division within the Welsh Pony registry.
Section B ponies are taller than the closely related Welsh mountain pony (Section A) with a maximum height of 13.2 hh (54 inches (137 cm) in the UK and 14.2 hh (58 inches (147 cm) in the U.S. They are known for elegant movement and athletic ability while still retaining the substance and hardiness of the foundation stock, the Section A Welsh Pony.
Section B ponies also generally have a slightly lighter build, as a result of Thoroughbred and Hackney blood. Section B ponies should resemble the Section A pony, but are of a more refined "riding type." However, they should not be light of bone; they should resemble their Mountain Pony ancestors for quality of bone. In addition to the desirable characteristics of the Type A pony, Type B ponies have a free-flowing movement. They should have a muscular neck, arching from withers to poll, and have a deep, wide chest. Section B ponies are more commonly used as children's ponies and as pony hunter/jumpers.
A Section C Welsh Pony of Cob type - The Welsh Pony of Cob Type (Section C) should be no taller than 13.2 hands (54 inches (137 cm). However, unlike the Welsh Pony (Section B), it is heavier and more cob like and compact.
The Welsh Pony of Cob - Type first resulted from a crossbreeding between the Welsh Mountain Pony (Section A) and the Welsh Cob (Section D). Today, some Section C ponies are still produced from this cross. In the past the WPCSA also accepted Section C ponies with Section B blood but that is now longer the case. There were also crosses with Iberian horses, which led to the development of the Powys Horse, which was also a foundation for this type. Other breeds also influenced the Section C, including the Norfolk Trotter, the Hackney and Yorkshire Coach Horse.
Cob type ponies differ from the section A and B ponies in that they have a straight profile with large, expressive eyes. They have clean limbs with silky feathering, and have sound feet. Their movement is high-stepping but with good reach in the shoulder and impulsion from the hindquarters. They have a round barrel and compact back with good muscling.
The Welsh Pony of Cob Type is considered to have a more independent character than the Section A or Section B. They are easy keepers and have excellent endurance. Today, the type is used mainly in harness for competitive driving.
Influential stallions on the Section C and D bloodlines include:
Section D - Cob
The Welsh Cob (Section D) is the largest-sized animal within the Welsh Pony and Cob breed registries, and is no shorter than 13.2 hands. Under some organization rules there may be no upper height limit, others require they not be over 14.2hh.
Though they are the tallest and stockiest of the Welsh sections, the head remains full of pony character, with large eyes, and neat ears. The legs may be relatively short, also akin to pony proportions. Mature stallions have somewhat cresty necks, those of mares are generally leaner. Like the section C, they have powerful, extravagant action. Grey coloring is rarer in the section D cob than other types of Welsh Ponies, but bold white markings are common.
Today, the Section D is best known for use in harness driving, but they are also shown under saddle and in hand. Like other Welsh Ponies, Cobs are also exhibited over fences as hunters and jumpers.