Established in 1931, the APSB is the oldest stud book society for ponies in Australia, recording the pedigrees of ten pure pony breeds – Shetland, Australian, Hackney Pony and Hackney Horse, Fell, New Forest, Connemara, Highland, Dartmoor, Welsh Mountain and Welsh Sections B – C – D and the Fjord Horse.
The first recorded pony breeds to arrive in Australia during the 1800s included purebred Shetland, Welsh Mountain, Welsh of Cob Type, English Hackney Horse and Hackney Pony as well as Timor Exmoor and Hungarian ponies.
With the establishment of the Australian Pony Stud Book, the pedigrees of the most influential of these bloodlines and their descendants were recorded in Volume One of the Society’s Stud Book. Initially three breed sections were set in place within the Stud Book, one for purebred Shetlands, one for purebred Hackney ponies and the third, named the `Australian Pony’ section, comprised the other imported British Mountain and Moorland pony breeds imported to Australia from the turn of the century to that time. It also contained the pedigrees of the `home bred’ ponies, produced as a result of the crossing of various horse and pony breeds for over a century, thus establishing the genetic pool responsible for the Australian pony as a breed. Some years later, individual sections were set in place for the Welsh Mountain and Welsh Pony sections and other British Moorland pony breeds.
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The Shetland Pony has been a part of the Australian Pony Stud Book since the foundation of the Society in 1931. From the outset, the breed has had its own section within the Stud Book, and only purebred stock were accepted for registration in Volume One. Shetland ponies had been imported to Australia as far back as the 1850s and fortunately accurate records were kept of their breeding and progeny, enabling seventeen purebred stallions and fifty-five mares to be registered in Volume one of the Society’s Stud Book.
Some of the first Shetlands imported to Australia from the Shetland Isles were the stallions DOCKIN and KING PIPPEN. Along with eighteen mares, they landed in 1857 in the care of Andrew Lyall, sent over to Scotland by his brother William to select the ponies.
One of the most influential Shetland studs established long before the foundation of the APSB was SHETLAND HEIGHTS. Situated on the coast of Westernport Bay in Victoria, the property named, Shetland Heights belonged to Colonel Thomas Small, who moved there from NSW with his family in the 1890s. Having a love of Shetland ponies, in time he put together a large herd. some descended from the Lyall ponies, but it is also believed he brought out a large ship load from the Shetland Isles prior to 1900.
In 1910 Colonel Small sold his property to the Maclellan family of Melbourne. Over the next eighteen months or so, Mrs Macellan imported from the U.K the Shetland stallion, HALCYON OF BODIAM, a grandson of the famous JACK, the mares WHITESOX OF KNOCKHOLT and MISS FLOSS OF BLYTH and the filly JADESTONE.
These were the first registered Shetlands to arrive in Australia and along with the ponies acquired from Colonel Small, laid the foundation of what was to become one of the most influential Shetland studs of all time – SHETLAND HEIGHTS.
Influential studs such as FENWICK, YARRA LEA, ROB ROY and GREEN VALLEY, to name a few were established along the bloodlines of SHETLAND HEIGHTS. Fenwick and Rob Roy studs also imported ponies in the 30s and these ponies were registered in Volume One of the APSB. As a result of the accurate records kept by these early stud masters and their inclusion in the Society’s stud book, breeders to day can be proud of the quality of ponies and the depth of bloodlines within the APSB Shetland section.
The Australian pony evolved from a rather complex beginning, a unique breed drawing on the most suitable characteristics of many breeds for over a century. The section was closed to all outside blood in 1960 except for the permitted outcross of APSB Welsh A and B. The result of over a century of breeding has not only produced a beautiful and versatile pony in its own right but one which has formed the basis for the majority of today’s pony breed associations and societies. Ponies to have a marked influence on the breed in the early years include the legendary Welsh Mountain sire GREYLIGHT imported in 1910 and the Welsh pony of Cob Type, LITTLE JIM imported in 1909. Both were Reference sires in Volume One of the APSB and their bloodlines and those of their progeny helped to establish the genetic pool for the Australian pony. Others to significantly contribute to the breed include the imported Hungarian sire BONNIE CHARLIE and the Arabian influence of Barolin Feluka, Lowlynn Silver Chief and the PAYTEN line of ponies through mares such as METEOR, ROSNA, ROYAL DESCENT to name a few.
The first of the Hackney ponies registered in the Hackney Pony section of Volume One of the APSB were the stallions LORD POMPADOUR, his son SIR GALAHAD and the mare DAINTY MAID.
These were progeny of Hackney ponies imported to Australia from 1898 by Caleb H. Angus of S.A and Sir Phillip Charley of NSW. The mare MANNEQUIN was imported from New Zealand by Mrs E Robins of NSW and registered in Volume Two of the studbook in 1942 and shortly after Mr H.C Thackerary of Markari stud in NSW imported the stallion MARFLEET CADET registered in Volume Three.
Further imports over coming years ensured Australian breeders had availability to the best blood of the Hackney Horse and Pony. The lines of the foundation stallions and mares are still sought after here and abroad.
Of the larger Moorland pony breeds, the first Connemara to arrive in Australia and registered in the APSB was ISLAND KING imported by the late Fred Wiltshire in 1963. This was closely followed in 1965 by the mare ARDEN and her filly foal EASTER MASK. These three ponies were registered with the APSB and were the foundation stock for Connemara Park, the first Connemara pony stud in Australia. The stud provided purebred and foundation stock for other newly established studs and with further importations of purebred stock to several states, the Connemara pony became a firmly established breed here in Australia.
The late Mrs Heather Ronald imported the first Highland ponies to be registered with the APSB in the stallion GLENEARN BRIGADIER and the mare PENNY FARTHING IN 1961. These were followed in the 1970s by four more ponies imported for a Queensland stud, the mares DEBBIEDENE, DRUID of CROILA and GYPSY MELODY of TURIN HILL and the stallion TROOPER MACPHERSON of CROILA. These bloodlines laid the foundation for other studs and gave Highland pony breeders access to proven breeding, The most recent imports, the brown stallion, MAVERICKDENE and the dun/grey FYFEDENE offer a valuable outcross to these established bloodines to ensure the future of the breed here in Australia.
The first true record of a New Forest pony in Australia was the arrival of ‘BURTON SLIGO’ IN 1931 but unfortunately nothing further is known of any progeny. In 1970 three New Forest stallions were imported and registered in the APSB, ‘PRIORY SUNSHADE’, ‘BROADLANDS BRIGHT SERAPHIN’ and ‘MUDEFORD PETER PIPER’. The next decade saw the numbers increase with 17 ponies imported in the one year in 1978. Studs have been established in most states and further imports have given breeders a depth of quality bloodlines from which to choose. The availability of overseas bloodlines through A.I has provided a greater choice for breeders and can only secure the future of the breed in Australia.
The first recorded Dartmoor ponies to come to Australia arrived in the early 1980s for Mr Chris Howe of Victoria and were registered in the Dartmoor section of the APSB. They were the stallions, LANGFIELD MANDINGO, BOVEYCOMBE BUCKTHORN, WHITMORE GENESIS and the mares SHILSTONE ROCKS HANANIAH and WYN HILL PURDY. Mr Howe registered progeny under his prefix Goulburn River and these ponies in turn have been the foundation for other Dartmoor pony studs. There have been further imports including the very successful LANGFIELD CANTH for Skye Mist stud in QLD.
Welsh ponies were first registered with a stud book society in Australia with the establishment of the APSB in 1931. Many pony studs were already well established throughout the country and had imported Welsh Mountain and Welsh ponies since the early 1900s. It was therefore essential to incorporate a Reference section into Volume One of the stud book published n 1936, to ensure the pedigree details of some of the most influential ponies used by these studs during their early years were recorded for future generations. Included in the Reference section were the pedigrees of the imported Welsh Mountain stallions, CREAM of EPPYNT 344 WSB, MERRY BOY 121 WSB, the revered GREYLIGHT 80 WSB, a son of Dyoll Starlight 4 WSB, and the imported mare TOPSY 4157 WSB. All were owned by Anthony Hordern, MILTON PARK, Bowral, NSW, who with other members of the Hordern family of NATTAI and RETFORD PARK, were closely involved with the establishment of the APSB. Mr Anthony Hordern held the position of inaugural President of the APSB.
The two other imported Welsh ponies included in the Reference section of Volume One were LITTLE JIM 326 WSB , imported in 1909 by Miss M.E.Rouse of NSW and TRAVELLER’S JOY 333 WSB, imported by Sir Samuel Hordern of RETFORD PARK, NSW in 1910. Both ponies were registered as Welsh C with the WSB, U.K, although registered as Welsh, their pedigrees traced back to the English Hackney Stud Book, but this was not uncommon as the bloodlines of the Welsh Cob and the English Hackney Pony were closely entwined in the early years of both English stud books. The English Hackney Horse Society was formed in 1883, before the foundation of the Welsh Stud Book, many Welsh cobs which were recorded in the first volume of the WSB were in fact also recorded as Hackney ponies in the EHSB.
Once the APSB was established, interest continued to thrive in pony breeding, the Hordern family imported several more Welsh ponies including CEULAN COMET 1490 WSB and LITTLE QUEEN 2622 WSB. These were registered in Volume One of the APSB along with the Welsh Mountain mare STANAGE ESTELLA 7371 WSB, a granddaughter of Dyoll Starlight, imported in 1924 by Miss D.W Roberts of NAROO stud in NSW. Other imported stallions recorded in Volume One included FARAAM MERCURY 1313 WSB, imported in 1933, CRAVEN MASTER SPRITE 1544 WSB, imported in 1935 and STANAGE PERFECT DAY 990 WSB, imported in 1920, another of the Dyoll Starlight bloodline.
There were many other purebred Welsh ponies bred in Australia or imported from around 1900 onwards who were not registered with the APSB themselves, but who had progeny who were. One example is FLASHLIGHT 2nd 35 Volume One, foaled in 1931 by Milton Flashlight from the imported mare Little Queen. Retford stud also registered mares in the purebred or foundation Welsh Mountain Section of Volume Seven and eighteen stallions and seven mares in the Australian pony section. Many of these were pure Welsh on breeding and either themselves or their progeny were acknowledged as such in later volumes of the stud book. Naroo, Macfarlane and Bereen studs all registered large numbers of ponies with the APSB in the early days and ponies from these and the previously mentioned studs have provided the foundation for many studs throughout Australia and Tasmania with an enviable collection of Welsh bloodlines.
The Welsh pony is an established part of the history of the APSB. The bloodlines of the ponies registered in the Welsh sections of the studbook involve over a century of pony breeding in Australia. The APSB is keenly committed to the continued success of the Welsh sections of the studbook.
The most recent addition to the APSB ranks is the Fjord Horse. In 1986, eight Fjord Horses were imported Australia from Holland. This was done via the Dutch Stud Book Secretary who was able to ensure that the two stallions and six brood mares, were not related to each other going back at least four generations. These ponies endured the long period of quarantine in England before coming out by container ship to Australia. They settled in well and over the next decade produced a number of foals to add to their number.
In 1995, the APSB Society was approached to include a section for the Fjord Horse within the purebred sections of the stud book. The stallion LEXON and eighteen mares were placed in the numbered section of Volume 18 and two stallions FERDINAND, NAUSTDAL and the mares CERNA, DAGMAR, DANIELLE, DOLLY, FRISKA and YRMGARD were recorded as Reference ponies.
Their numbers are still not high today but they have an enthusiastic band of breeders and owners who promote them well.
Today, the ten pony breeds under the umbrella of the Australian Pony Stud Book, makes it very much a `family’ Society. No other breed society or association can offer registration for so many pony breeds under a single membership. The breeds as listed have individual sections within the Society and are totally independent from each other. The Dartmoor, Highland and New Forest breeds each have provision for an Australian bred Foundation section, for example, the Dartmoor, is a pony whose pedigree traces entirely to the Dartmoor Pony Society Stud Book of Great Britain, and the Australian Dartmoor is a pony bred up along specified guidelines as set out within our Regulations.
The APSB Society also maintains a register for APSB Riding Ponies and APSB Part Breds. Classes for these ponies are included in the programs of royals, stud shows and other major breed and agricultural shows. The extent of the activities suitable for any of the APSB pony breeds is as endless as your imagination. Each breed has proven itself in many fields of equine sport for decades from the absolute elite of the show world to the fundamental use for a pony – as a reliable mount and friend for a child.
The twenty two volumes of the Stud Book printed to date contain the registrations of over 55,000 ponies. Entry to the Stud Book is by birthright subject to each application conforming to the strict regulations as laid down by the Society to ensure the purity of the breeds. The individual breed regulations also conform to the requirements of the relevant parent body in England and the U.K.
The past seventy seven years has been a time of steady growth and achievement and for this we owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneers of the society for their foresight and dedication in the establishment of the stud book.
The future of the APSB lies with the dedication and expertise of today’s members, in their ability to successfully guide the society forward. Not only must we preserve the legacy of the past 82 years, but as ‘caretakers’ we must continue to build on what has been achieved, to enable future generations to look back and say, they did it right’.