Info for judges and breeders
Cherry Wilson has been a Welsh Pony owner for 53 years, her Bristol ponies and their descendants gracing herds from coast to coast. She has exhibited in a variety of disciplines of riding, and driving, both in Welsh and Open showing, and has held judges cards in AHSA; Welsh (R), Western, Saddleseat, also Shetland, Miniature, American Walking Pony. A careful and strict line-breeding program through six generations has produced many National Champions, High Point, and AHSA Horse of the Year winners at her Bristol farm. For many years she has been a licensed judge with the American Horse Shows Association, the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America, the American Shetland Pony Club, and the American Miniature Horse Association. Mrs. Wilson will write a series on judging and breeding to be published on this website periodically.
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Leonard Milligan, one of the greatest horsemen I ever knew, told me only one percent of males in any equine breed should remain intact as breeding animals. I hope all your stallions fall in that very narrow margin. Any male being considered for reproduction must have; an impeccable pedigree, almost flawless conformation and the rare qualities of disposition and movement.
By disposition I mean the ‘inherent’ quality, and not his reaction to mistreatment due to what some novice or incompetent has done to him before you acquired him. I have owned many stallions, some came to me gentle and loving, and some came rank and wild. They all calmed down rapidly and for good, or they became performance geldings.
One of them came to me as a near 10 year old, with an attitude, having lived his life doing exactly as he pleased, and buffaloing his aged owners. He had a rude awakening when the ‘lessons’ began. But he proved a ready student and before long, my riding students could do about anything with him.
By movement I also mean the ‘inherent’ kind, and not the trained on type or style of the day, artificially put on by devices or trainers. True great movement has not one thing to do with ‘speed’, as in the halter ring, professional handlers running the pony off it’s feet. Often, and in fact nearly always, these are ‘strung out’ behind and nowhere close to being ‘good movers’. I cringe when I see these ‘speed balls’ placed up again and again, when they are not good movers, only fast movers, big difference. I have a pet peeve about little old ladies and children now being excluded from serious consideration in the halter ring, due their not being track stars. Of course it is a ‘show’ and of course the handler must try and show his animal to its best advantage, but that does not include, speed being judged or being any sort of placement factor. In hand, equines must be judged at the walk, and the trot. Any good judge can judge proper movement at the walk and at any sort of trot, and nowhere in the rules for placing Welsh Ponies is speed mentioned.
Most unfortunate that a Champion of today can; flip over backwards, go all the way around on five legs, chewing on the owners arm, try to kick the judge, and all the while screaming at the top if it’s lungs. Not for this judge! Disposition should be heavily considered in a breeding stallion, both for the breeder and the judge.
Also a major fault are ponies who only move on the front end, sticking their toes out in a very stiff and stilted fashion, while dragging the back legs in the dirt like a Quarter Horse. How they should move is clearly defined in the rulebook, and that is they must bend the joints and move in a balanced fashion both front and rear.
So when you are looking at stallions, consider more than flash and dash, popularity, or your own personal preferences. Always remember, they will pass on what they are. These are just some stallion thoughts.
Bristol Pony Farm
Handling Young Stallions . . .
Whether purchased as a future breeding stallion or future gelding for children, we tend to expect the impossible of young stallions. Because they are so beautiful, we expect them to behave accordingly and are greatly disappointed when they do not. By the time a stallion reaches three years of age, he should be relatively under control, or be a gelding. (Young being from birth to three years.)
Young stallions are the “little boys” of the equine world, as anyone having had one can confirm. If well cared for, bright and active, they more times than not, will also be ‘too smart’, mischievous, and very spicy. This behavior is often mistaken and the pony is labeled bad or mean.
Almost all babies (regardless of sex) while growing teeth will nip or bite on things. If you will watch foals in a pasture, they bite each other in a playful manner and will also bite their mothers. They kick, cavort and jump on each other. Only through training and discipline can they learn that this is a ‘no no’ to humans. Very young ponies are more apt to try and ‘play with’ small children than adults, because the child is more their own size. When dealing with young ponies, especially stallions, beginner children should never be left unsupervised. This is inviting an accident.
When working colts, be as easy as they will allow you to be. Usually, the stronger the breeding urge is in a colt, the more impish he is apt to be. The first offense sets a pattern for those to follow. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TOLERATE BITING OR KICKING. These nasty antics may be cute when the pony is two months old, but not when he is two years and five hundred pounds.
Sometimes a snap of the lead rope and a sharp ‘NO’ will do the trick for biting. If this does not work within a few times, resort to popping or pinching the colt on the nose when he tried to bite, accompanied with ‘NO’. All ponies you handle should understand the word ‘NO’ (or some similar command) and should realize that punishment comes after ‘NO’ if they persist. Having ponies ‘voice sensitive’ is good sense and good protection. You may escape many scrapes if your pony is voice trained and will listen to you. It is very simple to teach ponies voice commands through repetition and is an invaluable training aid.
Almost all correction of young ponies should be given from the head. Pawing or striking out with the front feet requires another snap of the lead rope and sharp ‘NO’, somewhat more severe. Always stand to the side of the pony, never in front.
Kicking can become a dangerous and annoying habit. It is best to stop any problem before it becomes a vice. If the pony kicks while tied, a small rap on the back leg with some ‘limber’ device and ‘NO’ usually is enough. Be sure not to use a rigid pole, stick, etc. which could damage fragile legs. A small whip, limb etc. that bends easily will do the pony no bodily harm while teaching him not to kick. (Always use any whip sparingly.) If you are leading the pony and it kicks out at something behind, either give a jerk on the lead with ‘NO’, or hold him with one hand while reprimanding him with a whip in the other. Remember that your discipline must be SWIFT, as the pony’s memory is somewhere around ten seconds. If you take time to find something to hitch him to, tie him up and then discipline him, the pony probably will not know why.
All the hollering that colts do as babies, is mostly trying to find mama, or a friend. As they get older and begin to realize what sex they are, males begin to ‘talk’ to mares and eventually tell the world that they are a stallion, every time you take them out. A screaming stallion is unpleasant and sometimes upsetting to other ponies. Use the same old discipline of the jerk and ‘NO’, sometimes accompanied by the whip.
Of course, when the pony is good reward him accordingly, with praise and petting. Always treat him with respect, but do not allow your colt to become spoiled. He will be an ill-tempered, unhappy pony and you will be an unhappy owner. Some pony stallions are born docile and remain docile through out life, but this is the exception. Generally, children and stallions do not mix and most authorities suggest gelding any pony purchased for use by children.
Put yourself in your pony’s place. Remember, you have taken him away from his mother, his pony friends, and his familiar surroundings. Many times his feed and water are different, his exercise and daily routine have been changed. He is being taught new things he does not understand by people who are strangers. Many colts are insecure and afraid. Be his STRONG, understanding friend, and your pony will respond favorably.
A good trainer is one who has found the happy medium between kindness and harshness, who knows when and how much discipline to use.
It has been stated often that some horses are naturally vicious. There is no such thing as a horse being born vicious. Viciousness is simply a product of bad handling…..If we bring a horse up to be a devil we cannot expect the behavior of an angel.
Colonel R. S. Timmis