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Use and characteristics of the Welsh Section B
While there is no lower height limit on the Section B, maximum height limits have been set. In the UK, this is 13.2 hands (54 inches, 137 cm), while the US allows ponies of up to 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm). Historically, the Section B was viewed as more of a hunter-type than the other Welsh breeds, and today many people buy a Welsh Section B for young people to participate in working hunter classes and cross-country events. Many of the breeders who produce and sell a Welsh Section B are Welsh studs of long-standing, but the breed is established globally as an elegant and popular riding pony. Their conformation is that of a small riding horse, with free-moving action from the shoulder.
Origin and history of breeding Welsh Section B ponies
Much of the history of the Welsh Section B, also known as the Welsh Pony of Riding Type, is shared with its close relative the Welsh Section A, or Welsh Mountain Pony. Both were originally mountain bred and extremely tough and agile so they could negotiate the twisting paths and rocky ravines of the Welsh Mountains where they lived for centuries. The Welsh ponies were all fortunate to survive the legislation of Henry VIII, which was intended to slaughter all small ponies below a certain height. This unworkable legislation was removed from the statute books before it could do much damage. Welsh ponies of different heights continued to live alongside humans as riding, pack and harness animals. Later they were used as pit ponies as well. All the ponies were strong enough to carry adults, but it was the larger ponies favoured by mountain shepherds that would eventually become the Section B ponies. In the nineteenth century, all the Welsh ponies and cobs were influenced by other breeds, including in this case, Thoroughbreds and Hackneys. Then, in 1901, with the establishment of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, the breeders of Welsh ponies took a far-sighted decision to divide their forthcoming stud book into sections related to type and height. It was clear that although horses and ponies were less in demand for commercial and industrial work, there was plenty of opportunity in the growing leisure market. At first, the only pony listed was the Welsh Section A. By 1931, the Section B was included due to increasing interest in Welsh breeds as children’s riding ponies.
Welsh Section Ponies in equestrianism
By producing ponies and cobs of different heights, the shrewd Welsh breeders created a breed progression that matched purchasers’ needs from child to adult. For many people, Welsh ponies still provide the best start in riding for children. The most influential Section B ancestors are probably the stallion Dyoll Starlight and the mare Criban Biddy Bronze.