Four types of ponies are categorized under the single name of Welsh Pony. These sub-categories carry the very impersonal names of Section A, Section B, Section C and Section D. While they all share a common origin, they differ somewhat in physical characteristics and size. They are all smart, stout, and hardy little ponies which are very intelligent and trainable. Because of their versatility, people have loved and used them for hundreds of years for all types of work and fun.
As the oldest recorded native pony breed of Britain, the Welsh pony has a history which is rich and deep. They originated in the hill country of Wales where it is believed they lived in pre-Roman times. With little food, rough terrain and a harsh climate to contend with, they emerged with survival characteristics still found in these ponies today. They are hardy, sound and easy keepers with an intelligence and endurance that makes them one of the most popular pony breeds today.
Julius Caesar may have been one of the first to domesticate this breed on the shores of Lake Bala. As time went on, they became an important part of the day-to-day life of the early farmers in Wales. They were used to work the land and provide transportation. People from the humblest farmer to royalty of the day kept Welsh ponies in their stables.
As with many breeds, people eventually began to introduce new bloodlines to the old, which created the divisions of the Welsh pony recognized today. In 1901, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society was formed to preserve and promote the integrity and standards of the breed.
The original pony Section A, is the direct decedent from the ancient ponies and the smallest in stature of the four. This pony is also known as the Welsh Mountain Pony. These ponies are the oldest of the breed and are considered the foundation stock for the other Sections.
As the smallest of the ponies they are never to stand over 12 hands. They are typically gray, though they can be any color, excluding piebald and skewbald. They should have a very pretty head with a kind eye and well set ears. Their neck should be of a good length and have a discernable arch. Their shoulder should have a nice slope intersecting with a wide chest. The back should be strong and short with a deep, round ribcage. Their legs should be straight with good heavy bones.
One of the famous Welsh Mountain Pony sires was named Dyoll Starlight. He is credited with being the foundation sire of today’s breed. He was a cross between a Welsh pony and an Arab. These ponies have an excellent temperament and are first class children’s mounts. They are also very talented harness ponies.
The Welsh Pony Section B is a larger specimen. It was developed by crossing the Mountain Pony with the Welsh Cob (Section D). Its bloodline also includes Thoroughbred, Hackney and Arab which makes it an ideal riding pony. They are sometimes criticized for their refined features which some believe make them less durable and desirable.
Section B ponies have three stallions credited with founding the lines: Tan-y-Bwlch, Berwyn,
Criban Victor, and Solway Master Bronze. The Arab ancestry is more evident in the Section B ponies, usually showing up in their head and their movement. They possess a more sloping shoulder, which provides them a fluid movement; a desirable trait for the show ring. They should resemble the mountain pony in structure but with lighter bones. They can be as tall as 13.2 hands. They also have a prettier and more refined head with an attractive neck. Their mid-section is deep and strong. Their legs are good and straight with strong bones. They are of excellent deposition and make fantastic children’s ponies. They are also surprisingly talented jumpers due to their innate rhythm and ease of movement. These traits also make them quite competitive in the dressage ring and make good steeds driving.
The Welsh Pony Section C is the first Welsh Pony of Cob-type. It stands up to 13.2 hands tall but is heavier boned and more cob like than the Welsh Pony Section B. It lacks the refinement and look of the previous line. Its movement makes it more desirable as a harness horse than a riding horse. It is thought to have originated from a cross of the Welsh Mountain Pony and the early Roman horses. They also have Spanish blood as well as some Roadster and Hackney.
The Welsh Cob (Section D) is the second Welsh Pony of Cob-type, and is more horse-like than the other Sections. It stands over 13.2 hands and no height limit is recognized. Overall, it is much like the other Sections with an attractive head and good strong body over ample bone. It can also have feathering around its fetlock. It is found in every color except piebald and skewbald.
Historically, it is said to have been desired mount for the British knights of the 15th century from where it is said to have developed its characteristic strong trot. It is still well known for this trot, and makes an excellent driving and riding horse. Its temperament is mild and it is highly trainable. It is a very popular pony for use in eventing, pleasure riding, driving, and dressage.