Welara Pony

  • HEIGHT: 11.2–15 hands
  • PLACE OF ORIGIN: England and the United States
  • SPECIAL QUALITIES: A strikingly beautiful, sound, athletic pony
  • BEST SUITED FOR: Showing, especially in fine harness, pleasure driving, hunter pony, Western and English pleasure, and at halter; competitive trail competition and pleasure riding and driving

The Welara was developed by crossing one of the most beautiful breeds of horses, Arabians, with one of the most beautiful breeds of ponies, Welsh. This cross has been popular with many people, especially in England and the United States, for more than one hundred years. These ponies are beautiful, sound, athletic, and affectionate, but somehow they existed for many years without a registry or a breed association of their own.

One early breeder of Welsh/Arab crosses was Lady Wentworth, of the famous Crabbett Stud, in Sussex, England. In the 1900s, she imported top Welsh Pony mares and bred them to her finest Arabian stallions, especially her Polish Arabian stallion, Skowronek. Describing the offspring as “the most beautiful pony on the face of the earth,” she continued to produce lovely ponies without making an effort to establish a new breed, a pattern followed by other breeders of Welsh/Arab crosses in England, the United States, Canada, and other countries. It wasn’t until 1981 that a group of friends in California organized a registry for what had become known as the Welara Pony.

The goals of the registry were to collect, record, and preserve the pedigrees of Welara Ponies, to publish a studbook, and to develop and promote the breed. Since its inception, the registry has become international, with members in the United States, Canada, England, Wales, New Zealand, Australia, Jamaica, and Germany. In Europe, Welaras are sometimes referred to as sport ponies or riding ponies, though these designations may also include ponies with breeds such as Thoroughbreds in the mix. The true Welara must be a combination of Welsh and Arabian blood. Welara-to-Welara crosses are allowed, but no pony may be less than one-eighth or more than seven-eighths Arabian or Welsh. No other breed or combination of breeds is permitted.

The association does register half-Welaras, known as Welara Sport Ponies. These animals must be 50 percent or more Welara, and 50 percent or less an outside breed. Very often the outside breed is Thoroughbred, a popular combination with hunter and jumper enthusiasts, but crosses to other breeds have also been successful. At the time of this writing, offspring from embryo transfers are not accepted for registry in either the full Welara or the Welara Sport Pony registry.

Breed Characteristics

The Welaras are hardy, spirited, very refined ponies. They are probably best known as beautiful hunter ponies but also work well as jumpers and event ponies, as well as trail and pleasure driving animals. Although their greatest fame is in hunter classes, there is no reason they should not also be very successful as Western contest animals.

Conformation

Ponies must measure between 11.2 and 15 hands as adults to be registered. Stallions usually stand 14 to 15 hands, while mares are a little smaller at 13.1 to 14.3 hands.

The elegant and athletic Welara Pony is popular all over the world, particularly in Europe.

This Welara shows its heritage from both the Arabian and the Welsh Pony in its beauty, refinement, and nice movement.

The head is small and clean-cut, with a tapering muzzle and a slightly concave profile below the eyes. The eyes are wide-set and bold. The ears are small and pointed, the nostrils large and open. The neck is lengthy, arched, high set, and perhaps slightly cresty in stallions. Shoulders are long and well laid back, and the back is short and muscular. The croup is long and comparatively horizontal, with naturally high tail carriage. The flanks are deep and muscular. The squarely set, straight legs have large, clean joints. The hocks have prominent points and turn neither in nor out. The pasterns are moderately sloped. The hooves are round with open heels.

BREED ASSOCIATION FACTS AND FIGURES

According to the American Welara Pony Society (AWPS) (founded in 1981):

• This is an international registry with stock and breeding farms in Canada, England, Jamaica, France, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as in the United States.

• There are 1,524 animals currently registered in North America.

• The AWPS registers 100 new foals each year.

• The breed is most common in Oregon, Washington, and the central United States.

Color

All colors and patterns other than Appaloosa patterns are eligible for registration. White markings on the face, legs, or body are allowed.

Welaras can be any color except Appaloosa.