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Heading to HOYS: meet the hard working home-producer who battles against the odds to realise her dreams

A home produced Welsh section B pony made his owner’s dreams come true when he qualified for the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) at one of season’s biggest shows, the Royal Welsh.

Bethan Jones’ Priestwood Darwin won a mammoth breed class before standing reserve section champion with stand in jockey Danielle Brice.

“This was his first ridden class of the season,” explains Bethan. “Danielle hadn’t ridden him in two years and she only sat on him for 20 minutes the morning before the class.”

Bethan produces Darwin from home with help from her fiancée. While she usually rides him herself, Bethan was unable to pilot him at the Royal Welsh this season.

“Twelve months ago I collapsed at the yard and stopped breathing,” says Bethan, who works full time in the dairy industry as a trader. “My fiancée gave me CPR which saved my life and I have since been diagnosed with chronic asthma. I asked Danielle to ride him in the qualifier as I have a section C pony and didn’t feel  strong enough to do two classes back-to-back.”

At home, Bethan rents an old barn from a neighbouring farmer and the family built some stables on the site. Like many home producers, she has to make the best of the facilities she has access to.

She continues: “I have no arena and live alongside a very busy main trunk road which makes for interesting hacking. The ponies get turned out with the cows and I also school in the field on a hill. Once haylage is taken in June I’m then able to ride on a flat field. The only things which make my life a little easier is the horse shower and lorry. I juggle the horses around work and I have a one hour commute each way to the office. Over winter, I clip hundreds of horses which helps pay for the following showing season.”

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Bethan was first acquainted with Darwin three years ago. The striking dun was purchased unseen from a Facebook post for under £1,000.

“Three years to the day he came off the transporter, he trotted out of the ring as a winner at the Royal Welsh.”

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