“We have a small farm, but we love what we do and seem to be doing the right thing because we have been successful,” said Burnley, who has brought home countless ribbons with her Welsh ponies since becoming involved with the breed in 1992. Furthermore, her homebred ponies have been sold across North America and have found success both at local Ontario Trillium and A Circuit shows, as well as internationally, with Wind Dancer ponies making appearances at the esteemed USEF Pony Finals.

Show Advice from Champion Welsh Pony Breeder Muriel Burnley

Muriel Burnley of Pontypool, ON – pictured with her homebred mare, Wind Dancer Enchant Me Tu – has been raking in the ribbons as a Welsh pony breeder and handler since 1992.
Photo Credit: Sarah MacIntosh Dixson Photography

To build a top-tier breeding program, Burnley suggests starting out by learning as much as you can about the breed you’re interested in. She also recommends researching bloodlines and performance records, as well as speaking to well-known breeders.

“Conformation is a must, and temperament is a big factor. But in the Welsh, type is also important because there are four different sections,” explained Burnley of her chosen breed.

“Section A, also known as the Welsh Mountain Pony, is considered the base of the Welsh breed. These little ponies can be up to 12.2hh. The Section B, or the Welsh Pony, is described as a pony of riding type and can be up 14hh. The Section C is a pony of cob type up to 13.2hh, and the Section D, the Welsh Cob, starts at 13.3hh with no upper limit. Each section is versatile and is found in nearly every discipline. You have to really focus on what you are trying to accomplish with your breeding program, whether you are looking to produce a child’s mount, hunter pony, dressage prospect, or carriage pony. However, it is important to not lose sight of the Welsh type with your goals.”

And to ensure that her program started off with only the best-quality ponies, Burnley decided to go straight to the source.

“I thought, ‘If I’m going to get into this, I’m not going to reinvent the wheel.’ I looked at what the breeders before me did, and they brought back stallions and broodmares from Wales,” explained Burnley, who imported her foundation mare, Downland Eclipse, from Wales in 1993. “I began by choosing quality stallions owned by well-established breeders to breed with my imported mares in hopes of improving my herd. That’s what breeders should strive to do to make Canadian ponies better and better.”

Show Advice from Champion Welsh Pony Breeder Muriel Burnley

Burnley’s goal is to improve the quality of Welsh ponies bred in Canada. An example of her success is Wind Dancer Absolute, shown winning the title of Grand Champion Section A Welsh at the 2015 Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
Photo Credit: Lynn Cassels-Caldwell

Having secured a premium pedigree and starting to raise her first foals, Burnley’s next step was to make her ponies ready for the show ring.

“Put the time into the pony before your first show,” instructed Burnley. “Make sure that you start your feed program early. Our first show is June, so you want them to shed their coats and be shiny and full – not looking like they’ve just come out of winter. Blanket if needed, groom them, and spend quality time handling them. We have a simple feeding program that starts with good quality hay. We don’t do heavy sugars, but instead use low-fat and high-fibre feed, and the occasional treats of carrots and apples.”

Burnley added, “Many times, the Welsh shows are held at fairs where ponies are exposed to lots of things that they won’t see at home. Try to prepare your future show pony for anything that can happen. It is helpful to be able to take them off-property before a show so you get a chance to see how they’ll handle a situation.”

Show Advice from Champion Welsh Pony Breeder Muriel Burnley

Burnley recommends plenty of practice to ensure your horse is presented in the best light possible. Pictured is the champion stallion she owns with Rose Reid, Stealer’s Choice, showing off his mastery of the ring with handler, Corina Casey.
Photo Credit: Mackenzie Pearce

Burnley also suggests checking out the Equestrian Canada (EC) rule books to learn more about the ins and outs of showing in your specific discipline. As a Welsh breeder, she relies heavily on Section B of the EC rules, which covers breed-specific sports.

And when Burnley and her ponies are finally prepared to tackle the show ring, they are supported by a handful of youth from a strong local community of Welsh pony breeders.

“I like working with kids, specifically teaching them responsibility, whether picking a stall or packing a hay net or filling a water bucket,” commented Burnley. “I always tell the kids that it doesn’t matter if it’s a first- or sixth-place ribbon that they bring home, because all the ribbons are beautiful and it’s a wonderful memory.”

While Burnley prioritizes preparedness for each show, she also maintains the same level of attentiveness when the show is finished. After each show, Burnley puts her ponies into a short quarantine to ensure the biosecurity of her herd. Then, it’s right on to preparing for the next show – or even planning the next year’s season.

“I already know my next show season because I am a member of the Welsh Pony and Cob Association of Ontario (WPCAO),” said Burnley. “There are 10 Welsh pony and cob shows throughout Ontario, with a year-end high point program managed by the WPCAO. Some of these shows are also qualifiers for the Champion of Champions – a prestigious program where ponies and cobs qualify to compete at a final judging at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. That is my goal – to qualify and compete in the Champion of Champions class every year.”

With the allure of another championship title strong in her mind, and hours of preparation and practice behind her, Burnley has primed her ponies for a place in the winner’s circle for years to come.

Powered by John DeereShow Advice from Champion Welsh Pony Breeder Muriel Burnley

Burnley (left) with her friend and John Deere salesperson, Johanna McKeen (right).
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Muriel Burnley

To keep her farm running smoothly throughout the year, Burnley relies on John Deere equipment – particularly her cherished John Deere tractor, which she purchased four years ago from her friend, Johanna McKeen, at the authorized John Deere dealership, Evergreen Farm & Garden Ltd. in Orono, ON.

Did you know that EC Sport Licence Holders receive a special discount on John Deere equipment? Call 1-800-965-6872 to save up to 28% on purchases and get coupon discounts up to $2,700!

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.