Meet H&H cover star – Danwood Llewellyn: the Welsh section C gelding who put his breeders in the spotlight

  • In 2018, a home-bred, home-produced Welsh section C reigned at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) giving his breeders their first ever victory at the prestigious show. The pony in question was the beautiful bay gelding Danwood Llewellyn (Lewi).

    Owned and bred by North Yorkshire-based mother and daughter duo Linda and Hannah Atkinson, Lewi was then crowned overall reserve mountain and moorland ridden pony of the year at the NEC when ridden by Linda.

    This week, Danwood Llewellyn features on this week’s Horse & Hound cover (dated 24 February), with a feature inside the magazine about the Atkinson family and their Danwood Welsh pony and cob stud.

    This year marks 20 years since Danwood was founded and since its humble beginning, the stud has produced Welsh ponies across the four sections, with a focus on Welsh section As and Cs. Poignantly, the prefix “Danwood” was chosen after Linda and her husband, Ian, sadly lost their first son Daniel, so “Dan” was suffixed with her mother Anne’s maiden name, “Wood”.

    HOYS 2018 was arguably the family’s breeding highlight and it was interesting to hear how Linda, usually on the ground at shows, was thrust into the spotlight at the NEC

    “I had ridden our pony Rivervalley Reaction at HOYS a few years ago and he was quite unsettled, so I swore I’d never ride him again,” she recalls. “So when he qualified [in 2018], I made Hannah ride him and I took Lewi on. We’d never been under either of the judges before and there were some very good ponies left in the final line-up. I can’t even tell you what it was like being called into first place; I often stop and just well-up thinking about it.”

    What makes the achievement even more remarkable is the fact that Lewi, who is out of Rivervalley Lou Lou and by Wyken Rob Roy, was the stud’s very first Welsh section C foal.

    Lou Lou was a much-loved face on the circuit during her ridden career with Hannah and became known for her ground-covering trot and presence in the ring.

    Lou Lou was bought from renowned breeder Jackie Cooper, from whom Hannah and Linda have sourced several ponies over the years.

    “Lou Lou wasn’t actually retired when she was put in foal for the first time,” says Hannah, who rode Lou Lou to win at the Great Yorkshire, her local show, in 2010.

    “Mum thought she’d got a bit bored of showing, but I remember being annoyed as I’d just got to grips with her. In hindsight, it was the best thing we ever did, as she gave us Lewi. She did come back out under saddle and went to HOYS several more times.”

    In 2021, Lewi and Hannah also ticked another box on the family’s bucket list when they qualified for the BSPS LeMieux supreme Heritage M&M ridden championship after winning at the BSPS Heritage championships.

    “When you first start showing, winning HOYS is one of your wildest dreams. We’ve put so much effort into Lewi – Mum even delivered him – and he’s definitely the pony who put us on the map,” says Hannah.

    Find more about Danwood Llewellyn in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine.

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