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What is a Welsh Pony?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A Welsh pony is a breed of horse native to Britain, created by mixing the sturdy Celtic ponies with Arabians and other breeds of horse later imported into Britain. Welsh ponies are actually divided into four types, or sections, depending on specifics of their build and height. All Welsh ponies are known for being reliable, strong, sturdy, and very gentle, although they can be stubborn, thanks to their intelligence. Many children learn to ride on a Welsh pony, and the horses are also used for driving, hunting, and dressage by equestrians at all skill levels. Sometimes called the “little horse with a big heart,” the Welsh pony is a classic and beloved breed of horse in Britain and beyond.

The roots of the Welsh pony lie in Celtic ponies, which ranged wild throughout Britain. The horses developed very sturdy, surefooted builds adapted to a variety of terrain, along with a high level of native intelligence. The horses were trained for use in battle and as farm animals by the early Britons, and captivated Roman settlers, who strengthened the breed by introducing Arabian bloodlines. Until the mid-twentieth century, most British farms retained a Welsh pony to work around the farm, pull a small wagon or trap, and to teach children how to ride.

The first type of Welsh pony, Section A, is the Welsh Mountain Pony. This is the smallest of the Welsh ponies, measuring under 12 hands in height with a small head, broad forehead, and bright eyes. The Welsh Mountain Pony also has straight forelegs and strong, dense bones, and clearly shows its Arabian influence. The next section, Section B, is the Welsh Pony, measuring between 13.2 and 14 hands, depending on whether it is being judged in the United States or Britain. The Welsh pony is a slightly larger version of the Section A pony, but has been specifically bred for riding.

Section C contains the Welsh Pony of Cob Type, a heavier and compact pony measuring under 13.2 hands. Welsh Ponies of Cob Type are known for the gentleness and powerful, lightly feathered hocks. These ponies are typically used in driving, and are excellent family companions. The final section, Section D, covers the Welsh Cob, the largest type of Welsh pony. The Welsh Cob is a larger version of the Section C pony, but is also known for its ground covering strides, as it was often used in military applications alongside much larger horses which it had to keep pace with. Welsh Cobs are used for hunting and driving, are known as extremely loyal equines.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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