On the hunt for a Welsh section A pony? Then you need to read this first…

  • Looking to buy a Welsh section A pony for yourself or for a child? Then this guide is sure to help you on your search…

    What is a Welsh section A?

    The Welsh section A or Welsh Mountain Pony is the smallest of the four Welsh breeds. It is a popular choice for both children and small adults.

    The Welsh section A should not exceed 12hh (121.9cm). They can be any colour, except for piebald and skewbald. They can have a variety of white markings on their legs and face.

    The Welsh Pony and Cob Society provides the following breed description:

    Head: small, clean-cut, well set on and tapering to the muzzle
    Ears: well placed, small and pointed, well up on the head, proportionately close
    Neck: lengthy, well carried and moderately lean in the case of mares, but inclined to be cresty in the case of mature stallions
    Shoulders: Long and sloping well back. Withers moderately fine, but not “knifey”. The humerus upright so that the foreleg is not set in under the body.
    Forelegs: set square and true, and not tied in at the elbows. Long, strong forearm, well developed knee, short flat bone below knee, pasterns of proportionate slope and length, feet well-shaped and round, hoofs dense.
    Back and Loins: muscular, strong and well coupledg
    Hind Quarters: lengthy and fine. Not ragged or goose-rumped. Tail well set on and carried gaily.
    Hind Legs: hocks to be large, flat and clean with points prominent, to turn neither inwards nor outwards. The hind legs not to be too bent. The hock not to be set behind a line from the point of the quarter to the fetlock joint. Pasterns of proportionate slope and length. Feet well-shaped, hoofs dense.

    Mandy Burchell Small is a leading breeder of Welsh section A ponies. She runs the Rowfantina Stud and ponies donning her prefix have won both Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International.

    “I like a four-square pony with a nice outlook,” Mandy explains. “A Welsh section A should have pony characteristics, with a nice big eye, a well-set front and a nice length of rein. A nice shaped head is a distinguishable feature of a Welsh pony. If you’re looking for a pony to do ridden work with then the neck set is important; the neck shouldn’t come out too low. A pony should have a good turn of front, too, which means that it should be easier to train as it finds things easier. I also like good, short, flat bone, and I would avoid a pony with appley joints. I don’t like narrow ponies either.

    “If you’re buying a ridden pony the most important thing is where the saddle is going to sit. Welsh ponies are often bred to be so short coupled that there isn’t a wither for the saddle to sit behind. The saddle shouldn’t sit at the base of the neck, so a pony with a good front is essential.”

    Mandy also explains that type will differ if you’re looking for a pony for a child, compared to if you’re searching for an adult’s ride.

    “An open pony would be rangier and it would have bigger movement; the bigger the moment the better,” she says. “A lead rein or a first ridden should be a pretty mover, as an enormous stride could push the child out of the saddle. Whatever job you’re looking for, whether for in-hand, ridden or something else, a pony should be balanced and straight. If you’re buying a youngster, watching a pony loose in the field will show you if it has this natural balance.”

    What can I do with a Welsh section A?

    The Welsh section A pony is a popular child’s ride both in and out of the show ring, and the breed also fares well in working hunter ranks, on the Pony Club scene and in other disciplines.

    The Welsh section A can contend many showing classes; lead rein, first ridden, junior ridden M&M and open ridden M&M. Some shows hold separate classes for Welsh section As, though sometimes they will compete against their larger relative, the Welsh section B, and sometimes they will contend mixed small breed classes.

    Welsh section As jump in the 122cm M&M working hunter pony height section.

    Aside from showing, Welsh section As have faired well in driving and in Pony Club games, due to their natural athleticism, turn of speed and nimbleness.

    The showing of Welsh section As in-hand is also popular.

    “Whatever job, the temperament is key,” Mandy says. “But you can’t always tell this until you start working with a pony. We’ve had ponies that have been exceptionally shy and timid at the beginning, but have gone on to be great at their jobs in the end. If can be difficult to judge temperament, but with children’s ponies it’s particularly important. If you have a charming pony with a good brain it can go a very long way.”

    What about a part-bred?

    Welsh part-breds are popular, with many being shown in show hunter pony and working hunter pony classes. The Welsh section A can add bone, hardiness and Welsh spirit to the riding pony to produce a child’s pony that can do multiple jobs.

    Where should I buy a Welsh section A pony from?

    There are online sale sites such as Whickr that have Welsh section A ponies advertised throughout the year.

    “While less people are breeding, you can still find some super ponies at studs,” adds Mandy. “Social media is a great way to find contacts and breeders who have ponies for sale.”

    The annual Welsh Pony and Cob Society sales take place in October. You can find a range of ponies, from foals to established ridden ponies, being sold via auction.

    “The sales are a great place to go, though the prices can vary,” Mandy says. “Ponies can go for a lot of money based on something like colour, and sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for the prices.”

    Prices in the private market vary, too, as Mandy says: “There have been some very expensive ponies sold, but there are have also been some ponies sold for very little that have gone onto be HOYS animals. I think you have to base your decisions on your own personal budget and the state of the market at the time.”

    I’ve bought a pony, now what?

    It is time to organise a pre-purchase vetting, something that is strongly recommended. If the pony is for a child, perhaps asking for a trial period would be sensible, but not all sellers will agree to this.

    It’s important to let the vet know prior to the vetting what you intend to use the pony for so they can assess it accordingly. If you tell the vet that you want the pony for the show ring, they should hopefully inform you of any blemishes or conformational faults which could impact its future career, even if they don’t impact its soundness or performance.

    If the pony is for a child, the vet will hopefully keep an eye on the temperament during the assessment, too. Small ponies can be more susceptible to laminitis so ask the vet to consider this risk.

    For more information, you can read H&H’s ultimate guide to buying a horse.

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