Members of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) overwhelmingly voted for change to the organisation that has been dogged by years of infighting and dispute.
At an emergency general meeting (EGM) on 14 October, more than 200 members united to back recommendations made in an independent report, conducted on the advice of the Charities Commission, that referred to the society as “dysfunctional”.
Former WCPS chairman Ifor Lloyd said he believes there is light at the end of the tunnel for a society that had become a “laughing stock”.
Votes were taken on three motions relating to the size of the council and duration of service for council members, and each was passed with a majority of between 80-90%. Council members stood up to declare their support, and only one, Geraint Jones resigned.
The society has endured a troubled few years. A legal dispute over the suspension of member Dania Leyson dragged on for nearly two years, while two disillusioned council members resigned last summer, including Mr Lloyd, the grandson of one of the society’s founders.
But Mr Lloyd admitted he was feeling “reasonably confident” following the EGM at Builth Wells.
He said: “The society has spent tens of thousands on legal fees in the past few years, expending money because of personal vendettas rather than concentrating on the job at hand. There has been so much unrest among the membership, but now I feel we’re ready to turn the corner.”
Mr Lloyd added that reducing the number of council members, from 33 to 15, should improve accountability.
Former council member Mike Daley said the vote proved the society was united and ready to progress.
“We need to bring the society into the 21st century. We have plenty of knowledge about the breed, but we don’t have the business acumen and we need to work on that,” he said.
Mr Daley also stressed the importance of attracting young people to a council that, at present, has an average age of more than 50. The “aggravation” of the past few years, he said, put new people off.
Mrs Leyson, whose membership has been reinstated, described the atmosphere at the meeting as “a breath of fresh air”. She said people were no longer afraid to speak out.
Members’ support for the council was very encouraging, said chief officer Gian Fazey-Cohen.
“The members have ownership of the reform process,” she said. “Having such a clear majority means we can start with a clean slate.”