Welsh Cobs and Ponies
The Welsh Pony and the Welsh Cob are closely related breed. These horses are loved by those
who know them for their good temperament and intelligence, but they are also sure-footed and hardy with bags
of stamina. Yet others point to their natural grace which makes them the first choice for many who go in for
The governing body for these breeds, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, has established four sections of
classification which are determined by the height of the adult animal. They are:
Welsh Mountain Pony: (section A): may not exceed 12 hands, 48" in the UK (12.2 hands in
Welsh Pony: (Section B): may not exceed 13.2 hands, 54" in the UK (14.2 hands in the
Welsh Pony of Cob Type: (Section C): may not exceed 13.2 hands, 54" in the UK.
Welsh Cob: (Section D): must exceed 13.2 hands, 54" in the UK.
Ponies are known to have existed in Wales before 1600 BC, although the breeds were not entered into a stud book
The animal has had a history of being a working horse. It was used in the cavalry, the coal mines, and on the
farms for pulling the ploughs, carts and carriages. However, in these days of mechanisation, the Welsh breeds are
used mainly for sowing, jumping and driving, as well as pleasure riding, trekking and trail riding, while the
smaller ones are beloved by younger riders.
These Welsh ponies could have developed from prehistoric Celtic ponies and probably wandered the British Isles
in feral herds. The climate is harsh in Wales and that undoubtedly influenced their ability to withstand the
weather and the rough, rocky terrain.
At some point, the Welsh breeds were mixed with Arabian horse, probably on the return of the crusaders from the
Middle East in the 15th Century and in the 16 Century, King Henry VIII ordered the slaughter of all Welsh stallions
under 15 hands and mares under 13 hands to improve the breeds' use as war horses.
An interesting piece of trivia is that often tradesmen in South Wales would select their animal and then trot it
the 35 miles uphill from Cardiff to Dowlais. The horse had to accomplish this run in under three hours without
Distinguishing features of Welsh breeds are they have a small head, large eyes and a solid colour. They also
have sloped shoulders, short backs and strong hindquarters.
The Welsh Cobs and Ponies contributed vastly to the stock of horses in the United States. The Welsh breeds left
behind by the retreating British forces after the American revolution were used 'as were', but also to start new
riding breeds by mixing them with other types. Examples are the Morgan and the Welara.
There is a small semi-feral herd of about 180 horses roaming the Carnedda Mountains in Snowdonia in north
by +Owen Jones