Welsh section B ponies put on rare breeds ‘at risk’ register for the first time

A type of Welsh pony has been put on a rare breeds' register for the first time.

Welsh section B ponies, known for their versatility and popularity as children's riding ponies, have been declared 'at risk' by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Organisations and breeders have told ITV Wales that they were 'surprised' to see the breed feature on its annual list of native British animals at risk of dying out.

It comes as the number of native Welsh section B ponies have been falling for the last fifteen years.

Now, the breed will receive increased support and attention to help safeguard its future.

The Welsh Pony & Cob Society said it was 'surprised' by the at-risk classification Credit: ITV Wales

John James, a Welsh pony breeder at Sianwood Stud in Llandovery, told ITV Wales that there's more to section B ponies than show ponies.

Some of John's ponies have been racers, while others have been champions – but over the years, the section B breed has fallen out of favour with other breeders.

"Not everybody wants to run around the show ring, with the pony at the end of a halter, or right around the show ring in a circle," John said.

"There are many, many other facets that the ponies can do for example, eventing and showjumping, dressage, even pony racing, which is very popular."

Meanwhile, the Welsh Pony & Cob Society says it has a job on its hands to halt the decline.

According to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, there are now fewer that 400 broodmares registered in the UK, from 1044 in 2009.

Ben Spoor from the Welsh Pony & Cob Society said the "gravity of the situation" was a "shock."

However, he said the Society remained optimistic.

"We're trying to see the positive in this, in that it's giving the section more reach following this news and hopefully it will encourage people to think section B," he said.

"We don't necessarily want to see numbers of the section B's rapidly increase because there is not necessarily the market for a large influx of foals of this breed currently."

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