18 April 2020

The best breeds for driving part 2: Welsh Section A ponies

The combined driving sport requires skill, speed and stamina, so which are the preferred breeds of horse for the top competitors? In this series we will be featuring the four most popular breeds of driving horses. In this second article, we shine the light on the Welsh section A ponies.

Why they shine

These brilliantly versatile little natives are stars of many ridden disciplines, and are equally capable in harness. From hauling cars of coal underground in mines to being the perfect childrens pony they are extremely versatile.

Welsh A ponies are also known as Welsh Mountain ponies. Welsh Mountain ponies originated in the rough terrain of Wales and through the years have developed a hardiness, stamina, strength and suppleness. The Welsh pony is squarely built with quite a bit of bone and a broad chest. They are unbelievably willing to work and have a true will to please. Through an infusion of arabian blood into the breeding program years ago, they are intelligent, refined and have even more stamina. “I guess you could say they are like a rugby playing ballerina”, tells Dutch four-in-hand driver Jan de Boer, “and therefore extremely suited to combined driving.”

When it comes to the practicalities of running a team they are also a good choice, being easy to source and maintain.

“They’re very strong, so they can pull a 300kg carriage, and they’re manageable fun, like kids,” says British pony team driver Sara Howe. “They’re small and are easy to handle. They can also do many jobs — mine work in my family’s riding school as well as driving in the team.”

Sara Howe
Photo: Krisztina Horváth

Who drives them

Welsh section As have dominated the pony teams class at Royal Windsor for the past decade. Successful examples include 2019 winner Roger Campbell (GBR); 2018 winner Tinne Bax (BEL), 2012 and 2015 winner Bram Chardon (NED), six-time victor Jan De Boer (NED) and British driver Sara Howe.

Source: Virtual Windsor.

Jan de Boer
Photo: Krisztina Horváth