Local Welsh pony breeders in top form
THE equestrian-loving Ford family, who live on the outskirts of Port Alfred, are synonymous with Welsh ponies.
The family of pony breeders have once again set the bar high at the recent South African Welsh Pony Championships with grandfather Jack Gilfillan, mother Elizabeth Ford and daughters Sarah and Hannah raking in the trophies and awards for their excellent horsemanship.
The recent championships took place at the Equestrian Centre in Bloemfontein from May 2 to 5. Despite the cold mornings and evenings, it was a great occasion for the local family, who came home with no less than 16 trophies.
Sarah has steadily been making a name for herself as a fierce competitor with Welsh ponies and was named as the reserve supreme champion with her pony Glenwelsh Royal Jester. She also won the title of South African champion in her class in part-bred show hunter, junior driver and for girls’ fine harness.
Alongside her South African titles, Sarah was also named as reserve champion in seven other classes, including under-18 rider, double harness mares and single harness stallions. Altogether, Sarah finished off as the junior competitor with the most points in riding and driving classes on show.
She brought home six trophies for her outstanding performances and impressed the judges. “We are extremely proud of her diligent work in preparation for her competition, as well as her dedication during the show,” Elizabeth and Adrian said.
One of the three judges had especially been impressed with her performance and commented that she wished Sarah lived closer so she could personally have her to train her own ponies in the riding and driving disciplines.
Younger sister Hannah is following in Sarah’s footsteps by fast becoming a great contender in her age group.
Hannah was named South African champion in both driver U12 and child handler U14. She also took two second-place winnings and two third-place finishes. Hannah came home with three trophies, including the child with the most points for U12 at the show. “She showed great enthusiasm and courage while impressing the judges with her easy smile and positive attitude,” her proud mom said.
Elizabeth competed in seven classes and was named South African champion in the team of four, reserve supreme champion in double harness stallions and reserve champion in tandem and double harness.
Grandpa Jack also did well and was named South African champion in tandem and reserve champion in team of four.
With help from Sarah as co-driver, Gilfillan and Elizabeth drove their team of eight ponies and won both the best team, as well as best display classes on show.
The highlight for the Welsh judge was to be invited for a drive on the wagon with the Ford team after the competition. Both Elizabeth and Hannah said compared to last year, this year had been an incredibly difficult competition. “At the last nationals, the harness classes were incredibly difficult. This one, the riding classes were more difficult,” Elizabeth said.