Pony Sections Primer
by Lesli Kathman

Breeds that have several varying types, all covered by the same registry, will often divide their stud books into "sections". Most hobbyists are aware of this tradition with Welsh Ponies, which are registered in four different sections. What many don't realize is that this is common in other pony breeds as well. The following are some of the breeds that have desginated sections, and what the differences are between the sections.

Welsh Ponies

The divisions in the Welsh Pony stud books are probably the best known of the pony breeds, with four separate sections: Welsh Mountain Ponies (A), Welsh Ponies (B), Welsh Ponies of Cob Type (C), and Welsh Cobs (D).

Section A -- Welsh Mountain Ponies are considered the native type of pony found in Wales. They are the smallest of the sections (12 hands or under) and tend to be rounder and more pony-like than the other sections. Unusual colors (palomino, dun, roans, crop-out pintos) are more common in this section than in any other. Mountain Ponies are shown with a natural mane and tail and - in some ponies - feathering on the heels. (Original Finish showers should not that the Cantering Welsh Pony is not appropriate for this section, since Section As are forbidden to be shown braided). This section is closed to any outside blood, including that of the other Welsh Sections, so both parents of a Welsh Mpuntain Pony should be Section As.

Section B -- This is the most recent of the sections, having been developed to provide children's riding ponies. As a result, Welsh Ponies can be slighly larger than thier Mountain Pony counterparts (up to 13.2 hands) and are built lighter, with a longer neck and better shoulder for riding. In the past, Section Bs were often shown in-hand with a braided mane and tail, but this is less common now (although not outright banned as it is with the Mountain Ponies). ALthough the only color banned by the registry is pinto (in all four section), the Section B ponies are most often conservatively marked greys, bay and chestnuts. Parents of Section B ponies may either A x B or B x B - no Cob blood may be used in Section B breeding programs.

Section C -- There is no difference in the standard for Section Cs and Section Ds except height; Section Cs may not exceed 13.2. Section C Ponies may be produced by crosing any of the first three Welsh sections (A, B, or C) to either Section C or D Cobs.

Section D -- These Welsh ponies are not technically ponies since there is no upper height limit, but most are 14.2 or under and have definate pony features, particularily the head which should closely resemble those found in the other Sections. In additon to size, Welsh Cobs are heavier boned than the Ponies and are known for their powerful trot. To American showers, they greatly resemble old-fashioned Morgans with slightly more bone and feathering on the heels. Unlike the two pony Sections where grey is the most common color, in the cob Sections it is almost never seen. Flashy markings are frequently seen, with occasional crop-out pintos as well. Up until 1949 when the Docking and Nick Act made it illegal, Cobs were shown with docked tails, but now they are shown natural, with a full mane and tail and feathering. Section D Cobs may be produced by the following crosses: B x D, C x D or D x D. In the United States, Cobs are a more recent additon to the Welsh Stud books and they are few in number, so Section B crosses are common.

Foundation Stock -- This program was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1930 when registrations were at an all-time low. It allowed mares of unregistered parents to be inspected for "proper type" and given the designation FS (foundation stock). Female offspring from FS mares by registered stallions could be registered with the designation FS1, and their female offspring as FS2. Those FS2 mares could then produce fully registered offspring (male or female) when bred to registered stallions. While some of the FS mares did have Arabian blood (usually through the stallion Naseel, who was used to breed riding ponies), most were purebred Welshes whose owners could not afford to keep their stock registered during the Depression. In 1950, the Foundation Stock program was closed to new horses, although there are some older FS1 and FS2 mares still producing. ALthough FS mares were accepted into whichever section their size and type suited, they have the biggest influence on the Section B Ponies.

American Shetland Ponies

Although many hobbyist don't make the distinction, there are actually two separate Shetland pony breeds - the American and the British (or Island-Type). While American breeders began with stock imported from the Shetland Isles (and their registry is actually two years older than the Scottish society!), they quickly bred them away from the original type in an effort to produce stylish harness ponies. Extensive outcrossing - usually to small Hackneys or occasionally to Welshes - was done to get leggier ponies with higher action, and the height limit was increased to 11.2 hands.

In the seventies there was widespread belief that the American Shetland had lost much of its identity, and that is was too specialized to be used as a child's mount. As a result, in 1982 two sections were established in the American stud book - Division A for "Classic American Shetlands" and Division B for "Modern American Shetlands".

Classic Shetlands -- These ponies were required to have both two registered Shetland parents, with no recent outcrosses to other breeds permitted. They were intended to more clsoely resemble the original American poinies, which were still quite far removed from the type seen in Britian. They are shown in-hand at a moderate stretch with a natural mane and tail. While CLassic Shetlands are more suited to pleasure riding and driving, the outside blood (prior to 1982) is still evident, and in many cases the only difference between Classic and Modern ponies is that of turn-out.

Modern Shetlands -- Outcrossing is still permitted in the Modern (B) Division, with poinies allowed to have up to 50% outside blood. The most common outcross is to Hackney Ponies, and as a result Modern ponies are often more refined and most frequently some shade of bay (the more colorful ponies are more often found in the Classic Division, although there are no color restrictions in either). Modern Ponies are shown with an artificially set tail, long hooves and ribbons in the mane (the same as those seen on Saddlebreds). When shown in-hand, they are stretched and often wear a bitting rig. Like the Hackneys that they resemble, the are most often show in harness rather than ridden.

Grade Shetlands -- Although the show shetlands in America do not greatly resemble the original island ponies, there are countless "backyard" grade ponies in the country that do. Although they are not formally registered, they are often more immediately recognizable to the average person as a "Shetlan" than their registered counterparts. The Hagen-Renaker Mini Shetlands resemble the typical grade Shetland Pony.

British Shetland Ponies

The British Shetland Pony is a completely different breed from the American Shetland, having a separate registry and stud book. Compared to the American variety, the British pony looks quite "squatty" and dwarfish, with a massive body and extremely short legs. They have a much heavier mane and tail and are shown naturally without clipping and trimming.

The are two divisions within the British stud books as well, but they relate only to size. The Standards are poinies over 24", whereas the Miniatures are under 34". Aside from size, the only real difference is in color. The vast majority of Standard Shetlands are black with little or no white, whereas the Miniatures are often more colored. The silver dapple color, so prized in American Shetlands, is more rare in British Shetlands, while the lineback dun (almost unheard of in America) is common in Miniatures. right now, the Miniatures are by far more popular with breeders and buyers (many are exported to be used in Miniature Horse breeding programs). Walking Ponies

In this case, there aren't different sections but rather two entirely separate breeds. Walking Ponies are purebred, registered Tennessee Walking Horse that are under 54" tall. They often have special classes at shows, but otherwise are no difference from any other registered Walking Horse. Just like many Quarter Ponies, Walking Ponies just happen to be Walking Horses that come from lines that tend to be small, or just happen to have been small individuals. They do not tend to look like ponies, but like small horses.

American Walking Ponies are a seperate breed with their own registry, and cannot be registered by the tennessee Walking Horse and Exhibitors Association. This registry was formed in 1968 to register Tennessee Walking Horse and Welsh Pony crosses, with the ideal being a small riding animal with the looks of an Arabian that is easy gaited. Although they are shown under saddleseat tack, the ponies have natural tails and are flat-shod.

British Spotted Ponies

This is an ancient breed that was endangered by the strict laws against poinies in the Tudor period, and later by prejudice against ponies "gypsy colored" horses and ponies. More recently there has been increased interest in preserving the breed, but due to their rarity, outcrosses have been necessary to build up the numbers. Currently, spotted ponies can be outcrossed to any native "mountain or moorland" pony or cob, and although the stud books are not officially divided both pony and cob types do exist. The pony type is more popular with modern breeders (the average British Spotted resembles a Welsh Pony or Welsh Pony/British Shetland cross), the cob type is thought to be the original found in mideival Wales.

Those assigning pedigrees to ponies that have Sections such as have been discussed, need to take itno acocunt which Section their pony most closely resembles and follow the registry guidelines for that Section. The result is more realistic pony pedigrees.

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