A new working hunter pony series for natives debuts at UK shows this season — with categories the organisers feel are fairer to individual breeds.

Qualifiers for the National Pony Society (NPS)/Equine Services native breeds open working hunter pony championships series will run alongside traditional NPS classes at NPS area and society breed shows.

Liz Launder, who shows Welsh section As and Ds and Highland ponies, pitched her idea to the NPS last year and they took it up.

She said: “In traditional classes, breeds are lumped together in three classes by height. So Shetlands jump against section As and Bs and Highlands and fells against Connemaras and section Ds.

“In this series we have six divisions. It’s more realistic.”

The aim is to encourage different breeds to come forward for performance classes and to showcase them to a wider public.

But Anne Harries, chairman of the British Connemara Pony Society, said they were not happy with the divisions and had declined to hold the classes at its breed show.

“A 138cm Connemara would jump against section Ds over 152cm. We feel that would not be fair,” said Mrs Harries.

The series final will be held at the NPS summer championships at Three Countries Showground, Malvern (5-7 August).

  • For details of which shows will hold qualifiers go to www.nationalponysociety.org.uk

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (2 April, ’09)