The “very poor” condition of Welsh ponies sold at auction house Brightwells earlier this month has caused outrage and opened a wide debate on overbreeding.

Since the sale at Builth Wells on 14 May, horse lovers have questioned whether Brightwells was right to let them through the ring.

Discussion centres on a group of animals from Evan Lloyd Evans’ Criccieth Stud in Gwynedd.

H&H was unable to speak to Mr Evans, a life member of the WPCS, but a family member admitted: “He accepts he has too many ponies and wants to cut right down.”

Readers were concerned about how thin some of the ponies were — especially the 11-year-old mare Sunwillow Hernani, who had a foal at foot. World Horse Welfare confirmed it has received “concerns” from members of the public.

A spokesman for the charity added: “We have been working closely with Mr Evans during the past week and will continue to do so to help resolve the situation.”

The RSPCA is also looking into the case and H&H has been told that at least one complaint has been lodged with the Welsh government.

Despite the storm of criticism, Brightwells’ Terry Court staunchly defended the auction house’s position.

“I’ve been selling ponies for 56 years and wouldn’t dream of selling anything unhealthy,” he told H&H. “The ponies weren’t fat, but they wouldn’t be — they’d come straight off the mountains. I can’t bear the thought of any animal going to the slaughterhouse and by selling them we’ve found them all nice homes.”

But Brightwells’ vet Bertie Ellis admitted that the condition of the ponies was “very poor”.

He added: “I believe the best thing for the ponies’ welfare is to get them through the ring and into a new home. They are better off being sold than going back to where they came from.”

For the full news story on the condition of ponies at sale, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (26 May, 2011)