Emily Ham’s driving blog: you can’t beat a Welsh pony for performance

  • With a busy week preparing seminars and working on essays, my highlight was to have been driving Mr J in the Mid Wales Indoor Horse Driving Trial on Sunday, but as it turned out I couldn’t get home because of university commitments.

    The upside was of course more time to devote to my animal science studies and immunology assignment and I was able to get Alfie working on his dressage in long reins in the sunshine (pictured top) for a change after weeks of gloomy weather — this was a real pick me up!

    The outdoor arena at Aberystwyth Equine Campus is fantastic and Alfie really enjoys working and showing off his expressive paces to passing students — both human and equine — and on this occasion to the Pony Club members and parents who had drifted over from their jumping competition to watch him in action. His Superman clip was quite a talking point!

    Not that I am biased of course, but I do feel that Alfie is a splendid example of a Welsh section D — with presence, power and stamina for the job of riding or driving over hills and rough terrain. I am passionate about Welsh ponies as performance animals under saddle and in harness and have set up a Facebook page to celebrate this aspect — there are also many in-hand showing pages.

    You only have to look at the results of the British Driving Society championships at Smiths’s Lawn and Addington and the finalists at Horse of the Year Show in the driving and ridden classes over the years to find all the Welsh sections excelling. Likewise in driving trials nationally and internationally, section As frequently win the teams, Bs, Cs and Ds the pairs, and Cs and Ds the singles.

    I wonder if the success of Team GB at the World Pony Championships was due to the majority being Welsh ponies! All expertly driven of course. Alfie himself has twice represented GB at the worlds with James Broome as one of a pair and was second in the marathon in Lipica. Mr J has competed with me in Young Drivers Championships in Austria (twice) and Hungary and won the Derby Cup in the Channel Cup event in 2009.

    I have driving ponies from all the sections and am very keen to promote the Welsh breeds, not only because I was born and raised in Wales, but because I feel they are true all-rounders. I am thrilled to have just received my copy of Welsh Breeds News with a double page spread featuring my Welsh driving ponies and what they have achieved.

    For anyone who has a horse or pony registered with the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, I would advocate taking part in their annual performance scheme, which runs from late February to October with an awards ceremony before Christmas. The scheme showcases the versatility of the Welsh breeds in separate riding and driving disciplines, over 40 categories in all.

    Both Mr J (Crossfield Glory) and Alfie (Beechwood Bracken) take part. Crossfield Glory has won the coveted Coedyrhyd Bowl for the 6th consecutive year. This is the champion’s trophy, awarded for the overall best driven performance over the categories, and Alfie, entered for the first time, is reserve driven champion. I am very proud of them both!


    Emily’s blogs for H&H

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