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Welsh pony breeder flies across the world to share unseen footage of breed

A Welsh pony breeder and enthusiast has been awarded a prestigious title after educating more than 200 people on the breed at a major convention in America.

West Wales-based Owen Griffiths received a surprise invitation to present at the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America’s (WPCSA) annual convention (20-23 February) in Denver, Colorado.

Owen, a 30-year-old clinical pharmacist who breeds Welsh section A ponies of Waxing and Ceulan bloodlines under his family’s Ilar Stud, told H&H he was invited to present in 2019, but was unable to attend and the invitation was extended to 2020.

“Around four years ago I sold a book on eBay about Coed Coch Stud ponies. There were only 500 copies printed and I received bids from all across the world,” said Owen, who also reports for H&H on showing.

“It sold to a lady in America called Winona Myers, who was new to the breed. We exchanged emails and became friends, then two years later I received the unexpected invite to present at the convention. When I was unable to attend in 2019 I thought that would be the end of it but then I was asked to go this year.”

Owen said to help prepare for his presentation he contacted experts in the breed including Wynne Davies, David Blair, Tom Best and Cerdin and Doreen Jones.

“I was asked by the WPCSA to talk about the history of the breed and the conformation and I started preparing a year ago,” he said.

“Dr Davies had done talks in America in the 1970s and 80s, and had some unseen footage and clips of the Royal Welsh Show in 1950 which he dug out for me. Doreen’s daughter Amanda Harries, also sourced a drone and filmed ponies in their natural environment in Wales for me to show,” he said.

Owen presented to 200 delegates on both days of the convention.

“The people were very nice and they really appreciate the history of the breed in America,” he said.

“On the first day I spoke about how the breed has evolved and on the second day about conformation; what is considered good and bad, and common faults. We then held an open discussion to allow everyone to learn from each other.”

Owen was also invited to speak to the WCPSA’s board of directors.

“At first I thought they were going to just thank me for coming, but then I was invited to judge at their national show in Tulsa next year,” said Owen. “Usually to judge you have to be on the UK panel, and I’m not but the board said they had held a vote to exempt me from that rule – it was a huge shock.

“I was then told because of all of my work the WPCSA was bestowing me with the title of honorary international ambassador of the WPCSA. It was remarkable – you don’t plan for things like that to happen.”

Owen said he considered the trip a success, but said the main aim was to promote the breed and not himself.

“My ponies are not my income, they’re my hobby. I wasn’t there to do a sales pitch, and I think that’s what the audience really enjoyed,” he said.

“It was surprising to be invited but with my presentation I was taking old messages and turning them into a modern format and it was about keeping it open for people to decide themselves what they like about the breed.”

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Owen returned home to a new arrival, a filly from his Welsh section A mare Dukeshill Sierra Mist by his stallion Waxwing Fly Past.

“My neighbour Miranda was looking after the mare and messaged me when I was on the boat to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty in New York,” he said.

“That evening I was going to see Tina Tina the musical on broadway, so I’ve named the filly Statentina.”

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