History / Premium Information & list of Premium Stallions - used since 1953 to 2013.


Brief History of the Welsh Mountain Pony

Reveller - Photo by Bleddyn Pugh

Reveller - Photo by Bleddyn Pugh


Firstly I would like to reflect briefly on the history of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and then the hill pony, which has always been a pride to research, but first and foremost it would be an opportune moment when writing my recollections to praise the knowledgeable people who had great vision to form the Welsh Pony and Cob Society back in 1901.

The Society was formed when certain influential farmers and pony breeders and landowners in Wales realised the urgent need to preserve at all cost these very old breeds.


The first meeting was held at the Royal Show yard Cardiff where there was a large attendance. It was decided unanimously that a Society should be formed. The objects should be “Encouragement and Improvement of Welsh Mountain Ponies, Welsh Ponies and Cobs, and a Stud Book should be produced”. The first Volume was published in the following year.

                                                                                                                                                       After formation, at the first meeting Lord Tredegar was elected President, with Colonel Plattand Mr. Gwynne Holford, Buckland, as Vice-Presidents for North and South Wales.Two years later the Society was honoured when H.R.H. The Prince of Wales (later to be King GeorgeV) became its first Patron.


Among the many who helped to found and constitute the Society, were Mr. Mr. Charles Coltman Rogers, Mr. Meuric Lloyd, Mr. Marshall Dugdale, Mr. W. S. Miller and Mr. John Hil. 

                                                                                                                                                           The origin of the Welsh Mountain Hill Pony is uncertain; however it is believed to have descended from the Celtic pony. The Hills of Wales and the borders were alive with hill pony herds of wild, hardy animals left virtually to fend for themselves, ensuring that only the hardiest survived. Mother nature's doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest’ led to the evolution of the Welsh Mountain Pony, agile, hardy, fit, strong, intelligent and beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                      From information it is believed that the Hill Pony Improvement Societies became established as a result of the Commons Act 1908, however a few Hill Societies existed before The Bill came into being and in fact this acted as an instigator to The Bill itself. The early Welsh Stud Book reported that The Right Hon. Earl Carrington, G. C. M. G. President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, received a deputation on the subject of protection and improvement of the breed.

Lord Kenyon led the deputation, the meeting resulted in the Act of Parliament, intended to assist with the improvement of the Hill Pony and breeding. The Act itself still stands the test of time today, enabling control of the ponies, especially entires, roaming common land to ensure breeding standards are maintained. This has ensured good breeding practices over the last century. These policies today are welcomed and approved by leading Welfare Organizations.

One of the most respected names in the Welsh Pony and Cob Society’s history, Nell Pennell wrote -“One thing must never be lost sight of. It is the Section A pony on the hills, that not only are the foundation of all sections in the Stud Book, but the very life line of the Breed. Without them the name Welsh Mountain Pony would soon become a travesty”.

It is essential to try and maintain the tradition of keeping these ponies on their native heath to ensure that these invaluable characteristics are not lost, there has been an enormous contribution by the hill breeders over time to retain the traditional characteristics of the Welsh Mountain Pony.                                              

At some Hill Sales you will see many lowland breeders looking for these bloodlines. We owe our Native Hill ponies much; they play an important role in conservation grazing and are vital for Welsh Heritage. It is important that we preserve this unique way of breeding for future generations to enjoy.

Earlier records of the Premium Scheme:

The Board of Agriculture in 1913 offered twenty three Premiums of £5 each to Welsh Mountain Pony stallions which the rules of the WPCS clearly stated you must abide by the 1908 Commons Act. The first Societies to receive Premium grant in 1913 were:

  • Church Stretton (8 premiums @ £5)
  • Eppynt Forest    (9 premiums  @ £5)
  • Gower Common (3 premiums @ £5)
  • Penybont             (3 premiums  @ £5)

The Pony Improvement Scheme supported by the War Office, continued to expand and by 1929 despite difficult times there were fifty one premiums paid.

From approximately 1938 the Racecourse Betting Control Board later called the Horse Betting Levy Board paid the Premium grant. Although there was a decline over the war years, this did improve in the 1950ís, all the grants were paid subject to the inspectorís approval who used to travel to the different areas.

From 1958 inspection of these stallions took place at Glanusk Park, Crickhowell and later at the Glanusk Stallion Show, held at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, the inspections are carried out by approved panel judges of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society, stallions qualify the same way as before but the venue has become the shop window for the Welsh Pony and Cob Society and the Hill Pony Improvement Societies.

Deri Brigadier Photo by Dewi Thomas

Deri Brigadier - Photo by Dewi Thomas

Population Decline

The serious decline in numbers of the Hill Ponies became apparent to many of the Hill Breeders and The Welsh Pony and Cob Society Council Members. The W.P.C.S. then commissioned Betty French to carry out a survey throughout the Hills of Wales on The Welsh Mountain Pony. This huge task was carried out from 1998 and completed approximately in the year 2001.

The figures collated of the Welsh Mountain Ponies by Betty French were that there was less than 800 brood mares 4 year old and over. The Welsh Pony and Cob Society then submitted these figures to the Rare Breed Survival Trust and the Welsh Mountain Hill Pony was

placed in 2002, on their ďat risk register - category 3 Vulnerable".


Premium scheme funded by the HBLB, 20% match funding is stipulated within the grant. Administration of the whole scheme is by the WPCS.

Funding of the 20% is by the following:

10% by Glanusk Stallion Show since 2002.
10% in 2002 and 2003 by the Premium Preservation Trust.
10% since 2004 by the WPCS.

Inspection of stallions annually by two appointed inspectors at the Glanusk Stallion Show.

Premium awards granted………………………………..........£100

Super Premium awards to ten qualifiers…………………...£  75

Acknowledgement payment towards cost of running                                   

Glanusk Show……………………………………………..........£500

Inspection of hill foals and four year old hill mares annually at Brecon Livestock Market:

Scheme allows up to twenty three foals to be approved by appointed inspectors.

First payment as yearlings (inspected as foals) …………………………£ 50
The 2nd payment is made when previous qualifying foals attain 4 y.o

.…………………………………............................................................................£ 50

There are also provisions in the grant scheme to support the cost of:

DNA collection, Stud- Books, Seminars, Newsletters, Photographs, Judges’ expenses.

Hill Foal Premium Grant - Welsh Pony & Cob Society 2014

WPCS appointed Inspectors 2014: Mr. P. Williams (Crimond)  Mr. T. Roberts (Pistyll).

The inspection of foals bred on the open hills and marshes takes place at Brecon Livestock Market, Brecon, Powys, annually in December. These premiums are awarded to encourage hill breeders to retain good quality fillies/colts.


On Saturday 13th of December it was our pleasure to be asked to inspect the hill foals presented from the Hill Pony Improvement Societies.


On a bitterly cold morning, conditions under foot were extremely slippery at the market. The handlers took extreme care of the foals during the inspection and we thank them sincerely for this.


It was a pleasure to be invited to inspect the semi-feral hill foals and although numbers were down on previous years mainly because of hill breeders reducing the number of mares they normally put in foal because of the trade of ponies being on the floor.


There were 12 foals forward in total, 8 fillies and 4 colts.


There were some very nice types of fillies for us to inspect and all except one was awarded a premium.


Three out of the four colts were also passed.


There were a number of foals that qualified for Premium, were of good type and conformation and should mature into nice mares.


I and Phil thank the breeders, for supporting the scheme and also for preparing the foals to a very high standard.


There were no mares forward for inspection - qualifying four year old mares will be inspected at home.


Report by - Mr. Tom Roberts.

WPCS Premium Inspectors P. Williams & T. Roberts              
    2014 filly, forward for inspection
2014 foals, forward for inspection
2014 foals, forward for inspection
2014 foals, forward for inspection
2014 foals, forward for inspection

Photographs Dewi Thomas

In 2014, 11 foals were entered for the scheme, 6 fillies and 3 colts were awarded premiums, the first £50.00 Premium is payable at 1 year old.
On proof that the qualifying ponies are still on the hill/marshes at 4 year olds, they are again inspected and those qualifying are then awarded a 2nd Premium of £50 (colts qualify when licensed).



Maesgwyn Highjack - Venue: Glanusk Park - Hill Ponies of Wales Open Day 2006

Below are the archives of all the premium stallions kept by Dowlais Pony Improvement Society dating back to 1953 through to the present day. 

Colin Thomas.

Click on each section to view or download a printable version:

List updated 29/09/2014


Website training for this site has been funded by The Welsh Assembly Government and Communities First Cymunedau yn gyntaf.

Copyright © Dowlais Pony Improvement Society 2008