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HISTORY OF THE BRITISH SPOTTED PONY
The spotted coat of the British spotted pony was his natural camouflage when he roamed the heaths and forests of ancient Britain. Stoneage man painted him on the walls of his caves, and they appear in many illustrated manuscripts, old paintings and drawings down through the centuries. Because of their unusual coat colouring the spotted pony was highly prized and it is documented that they were sold for enormous sums of money and were widely used in peace and war. In a parchment roll dated 1298 there is listed all the horses purchased for Edward 1st campaign at Falkirk. It describes a spotted Welsh cob from Powys purchased from Robin Fitzpayne. He is one of the most expensive on the list. In a fifteenth century manuscript of the chronicles of Sir John Froissart there is an illustration of a little chestnut spotted cob.
Due to our Celtic origins, and our subsequent worship of the horse goddess Epona we have our ancient fertility rites and dances, which have been passed on down through time and are still enacted by our Morris dancers and mummers in their plays throughout the country villages to this day. one of the characters in the mummers plays is the spotted hobby horse who represents spring growth and fertility. He would dance down the village streets and any fair maiden he could catch and touch was supposed to become pregnant. We know that somehow the spotted pony was linked with these ancient rites.
There have been some importation's of European blood down through the centuries. While the Roman army brought with them their elite officers mounts some of which were known to be spotted Spanish horses of great elegance. Also there were many gifts of fine horses sent between the royal families of Europe, and we snow from paintings and documents many were spotted. There is a mid nineteenth century print of a lady believed to be Queen Victoria driving a beautiful little Welsh-type spotted pony with a spotted Dalmatian dog running behind. Another recorded import (again of Spanish decent) was some Danish Knabstruppers in the early 1960's. gnome stallions were also imported by Chipperfield's Circus for liberty work and some found their way into private hands. Some of our modern day stallions carry this blood through Spangled Leopard who was by Flashlight of Derriott out of a Knabstrupper mare. Sparside Buttons is an outstanding stallion of this old line. Fairy King who was Welsh bred was the greatest progenitor of many of our ponies and he features through his son, Fairy Prince, in many of our oldest studs pedigrees. He strongly influenced the Dantsley, Domino, and Ypsitty studs who have in their turn sold stallions to many small studs throughout the UK and abroad.
GENERAL:- a quality pony with adequate bone and substance, hardy and active with real pony character of small, riding or cob type, up to and including 14.2 hh.
All ponies MUST display some of the following:- White sclera round the eye. Mottled skin. This part dark, part pink skin is usually most evident around the genitals, lips, muzzle, eyes and inside the ears. Striped hooves.
Leopard:- Spots of any colour on a white or light coloured background.
Dew Spot:- Strong characteristics often accompanied by varnish marks (groupings of dark hairs within an area, usually nose, cheekbones, stifle, gaskin and knee).
Snowflake:- White spots on a dark base coat. This colour can appear almost roan but must ] show strong characteristics, and often has varnish marks which distinguish it from an ordinary roan.
Blanket:- An area of white over hips and hindquarters with or without spots. Any base colour. The blanket can extend over the entire back and shoulders. Piebald and Skewbald markings of any kind are not eligible. Solid colours are eligible for a separate Register but must be of proven spotted breeding, and preferably show some breed characteristics.
HEAD Full of quality and true pony character. Big bold eyes set well apart. Ears should be well placed, small, neat and in proportion to the head. Prominent, open nostrils, clean, well defined throat. A coarse head and Roman nose are to be discouraged.
NECK Should have good length and be well carried. Moderately lean in mares but inclined to be more cresty in stallions. Slightly heavier neck is allowable in the cob type.
SHOULDERS Good strong, sloping and well laid back. Withers should be well defined but not 'knifey'.
FORELEGS Should be set square and true. Not tied in at the elbow. Long strong forearms with well developed knee. Short flat bone below knee. Pasterns of proportionate length and slope. Well shaped tense hooves. The cob type should have a greater abundance of bone without coarseness and a moderate quantity of fine feather when in the rough.
BODY Muscular, strong, well coupled with plenty of heart room. Good deep girth and well sprung ribs.
HINDQUARTERS Lengthy, strong, well muscled not ragged or trooping, with well set on tail. Slightly finer in riding type.
HIND LEGS Well let down hocks, large flat clean bone, prominent points. The hock not to be set behind a line from the point of quarter to fetlock joint. No sickle or cow hocks. Pasterns to be of proportionate length and slope. Hooves well shaped and dense.
ACTION Low, straight from the shoulder free flowing, Hocks well flexed with straight action coming well under the body. The cob type may show more knee action.
All the information and photos in this section is provided courtesy of the British Spotted Horse and Pony Society.
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Updated: October 2005.