While its Section A kindred are deservedly popular, their small stature does limit their uses somewhat. The Welsh Pony of Riding Type, commonly known as the Section B was bred out of a desire to keep the best features of the small, light mountain ponies, but in a larger package.
Unlike their Section A counterparts, the development of Section B ponies had a lot of input from humans. The foundation of the breed was the little mountain ponies, but finer blood from Arabs, Thoroughbreds and Hackneys was added to make the ponies bigger without losing either the sturdiness or the refinement of the original stock. The breed was originally developed for adult Welsh hill farmers (in days when people were generally much smaller). They wanted to keep the intelligence, resourcefulness, sure-footedness and stamina of the original ponies so that they would be able to withstand long days on the hills herding sheep, cattle and wild ponies. At the same time, even then adults needed bigger ponies than children and also there was an interest in using the ponies for leisure/competition purposes such as pony racing.
Although ponies are still used today in rural areas, where it is impractical to use machinery, as today's adults are larger than their ancestors, this type of work typically falls to the larger breeds such as the Section D or occasionally the Section C. The modern Section B is best known as a children's pony par excellence and a quality driving pony for adults. Today many of the top performers at Pony Club events and other competitions are either Welsh ponies, Welsh pony crosses or ponies of Welsh ancestry. Their heritage on the mountains of Wales makes them brave cross-country ponies and nimble in the show-jumping ring. Their combination of strength and refinement also makes them excellent dressage ponies.
The Welsh Mountain Pony (Section B) is essentially a slightly larger version of the Section A pony. It may stand up to 13.2 hands high and all whole colours are permitted. Although the Arab influence is shown in the dished face and large eyes, the faces still have pony features such as shorter ears. The horse influence is shown in the moderately long neck. The body is still compact overall and should be well-muscled with solid quarters but still slender rather than bulky. Their legs are refined without being overly delicate and they retain the solid, dense hooves of the Section A, which means that they are more than capable of picking their way through challenging terrain. They also have high-set tails. Being slightly bigger than the Section As they have longer strides and when on open ground move strongly and freely as well as with grace. They go equally well under saddle or in harness.
Thankfully the addition of more refined saddle-horse to the native breed has only served to increase their hight and refine them somewhat rather than making them noticeably more sensitive and flighty. The Section B keeps the intelligent, sensible, resourcefulness typical of the native breeds. They are friendly animals and enjoy company, both human and animal. In spite of their rural history, they generally adapt well to being in traffic. Prospective owners should note that the hard-working Welsh pony enjoys being kept active, which means that owners should be prepared to keep them well exercised, or, if this is not possible, otherwise occupied. The hardy Welsh Section B will happily hack out in all weathers even if their owner does not feel like braving the cold and wet. If it is not possible to give the pony regular exercise for a period then, in addition to making sure it is regularly turned out then some toys for the paddock or stable would probably be appreciated. Properly treated Section B's rarely have behavioural issues and generally can be ridden very happily by novices and children. Overfed Section B's however can become a handful as they need an outlet for their excess energy. It's simple enough to avoid this by remembering that they only need minimal food (if any) unless the weather is hugely severe and/or they are working extremely hard.
Welsh Section B Health
Owners of Section B ponies will generally enjoy low vets bills – provided they keep their pony's weight at a moderate level. Even with the addition of more refined blood, Section Bs are fundamentally still ponies which developed to be able to live off sparse grazing and to survive on minimal food even through severe winters. Even without extra food it is very easy for them to become overweight simply by having too easy access to food and shelter. In addition to the problems typical of obesity, such as strain on the heart, overweight ponies are prime candidates for laminitis.
Caring for a Welsh Section B
The Section B will happily live out all year round but a stable can be an asset in terms of limiting their grazing in summer. In addition to regular exercise they will need outdoor space to stretch their legs, relax and play. Like all ponies they will need regular grooming, particularly in winter when their coats grow thicker. They will also need shoeing/feet-trimming and worming. Owners will also need to ensure that dung and litter are removed from their paddock. If they are kept in a stable then this will also need to be kept clean. If it is determined that extra food is required, look for non-heating mixtures particularly for children's ponies and be ready to reduce or eliminate the extra food if the pony starts to put on weight. If the pony shows signs of becoming jealous when other animals are fed, then a fake feed of carrots or apples should take care of it. They will need access to clean water at all times.
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