By an Arab stallion, Pretty Polly swept the board in the 1950s, winning championship after championship and creating a legacy both in the show ring and via her progeny. Nicola Jane Swinney talks to those who remember her
FOR those brave souls who take on the professionals in open pony classes, Pretty Polly is their chance to stand in the spotlight – the classes introduced by the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) for home-producers only.
What some “newbies” may not realise is that Pretty Polly was a real pony; one who swept all before her in the 1950s, ridden by the young Davina Whiteman, long before she and her mother Joan Lee-Smith founded Ponies Association (UK).
Pretty Polly was foaled in 1945, by the Arab stallion Naseel out of a Welsh/thoroughbred mare called Gypsy Gold, bred by Stephanie Nicholson of Co Meath. As Tom Best says in his definitive book The History of the British Riding Pony: “This cross highlighted the role of Arab blood in the breeding of the developing British riding pony, at a time when there was some prejudice against its use.”
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