In addition to overall awards given out at the USEF Pony Finals presented by Honor Hill Farms, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America (WPCSA) gives out High Score awards to Welsh ponies competing at the show. The awards are organized by Dr. Ruth Wilburn, president of the WPCSA. Wilburn, who has been breeding ponies for 40 years at her Rollingwoods Farm, explained that the awards are meant to show the importance of Welsh ponies in the hunter pony world. Wilburn coordinates the awards with Sally Steinmetz, a member of the WPCSA Board of Directors and the owner of Rosehaven Farms in Havre de Grace, Maryland.
“I modeled it on the Virginia Pony Breeders Association awards, because I thought if the Virginia Pony Breeders Association could do that, then the Welsh Pony people could do that,” Wilburn explained. “We've been doing it for about 20 years now. I have a little core group that helps me, and we have a great time. We look forward to it. It's a vacation for us. It's a lot of work, but we enjoy it immensely.”
Purebred, Half-Welsh, and Part-bred Welsh ponies are all eligible for the awards. First through sixth places are given in the small, medium, and large divisions in both the regular hunter and green hunter categories. An Overall High Score Purebred Welsh and an Overall High Score Half/Part-Bred Welsh are also given in the regular and green hunter ponies. The awards are based on the same criteria for the overall judging at Pony Finals: combined scores from the model phase, the under-saddle phase, and the over fences phase.
To be eligible for the awards, ponies must be registered with the WPCSA. There is no charge to eligible ponies for these awards.
“We want to teach the children that pedigree is really important, and you can follow through and see the different lines of ponies that win,” Wilburn said. “Probably three-fourths of the ponies at Pony Finals, if not more, are Welsh or part Welsh.”
Wilburn explained that, personally, she appreciates how varied the sizes and colors of Welsh ponies are.
“The Welsh Pony breed has four sections; the Section A pony is the original Welsh mountain pony which goes up to 12.2 hands. The Section B pony (many of the ponies at Pony Finals are Section B's) can go up to 14.2 hands. Then you have the Welsh ponies of Cob type (Section C) and Welsh cobs (Section D), which are a bigger, stockier-type pony,” Wilburn said. “We see a lot of people that cross the cobs with thoroughbreds for dressage mounts and eventing mounts. Then you can have half and part-bred, that you can cross with any other equine, so you can get any size animal or any color.”
Overall, Wilburn said the Welsh pony is a “pony for all ages.”
“The kids may ride them, but the parent may drive the pony, and then the baby sister's doing the walk/trot class, so the whole family can use [the pony],” Wilburn said.