‘He’s taught me so much’: 23-year-old Welsh stallion shines on London International debut

  • A Welsh section C stallion lifted the 2023 SSADL in-hand supreme title on his debut at London International Horse Show.

    Quantity surveyor Ellena Thomas led her own pride and joy Gwenllan Birt, 23, on what was her first time leading a pony on London turf.

    “My main goal of the day was to not fall over while running,” joked Ellena, who was first acquainted with Birt 13 years ago. The Gwenllan Seimon son was on loan from Amy Trevor, and he was gifted to the Thomas family in his later years.

    “He was my first stallion; I was only 14 when I first got him,” said Ellena, who is set to return to the main arena at London International on Monday to contest the BSPS supreme M&M ridden final. “He’s taught me so much over the years. He was 10 when he arrived with us and he was quite set in his ways, but we bonded and he had a great career until we bowed him out aged 16. He really put me on the map and helped me step up into open native classes.”

    During his ridden stint with Ellena, Birt qualified for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) twice and he finished third in the open Welsh section C and D final at the Royal International (RIHS).

    “This season we brought him out as a veteran in May,” Ellena continued. “I’ve had novice ponies this year so I was a bit stuck on what to do for the majority of the season. We thought why not give Birt another go, and here we are.

    “He’s a typical old man in many ways, but sometimes he acts like a four-year-old. He keeps us on our toes. He’s our family horse we’ve had for 13 years, and now he’s given me my first London title.”

    Last year’s ridden runner-up returned to finish as reserve for the 2023 SSADL in-hand supreme crown. This was 20-year-old show hunter pony contender Woodview Fiocco led by Lancashire-based Georgia Kirby. The pair’s CV includes the supreme title at the Veteran Horse Society championships, and last year’s RIHS SSADL ridden championship.

    On form after winning the SEIB Search For A Star veteran accolade at Your Horse Live last month, Heidi Bull’s home-bred 18-year-old Romany (Play The) was pulled into third position.

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