For generations, Welsh Ponies have helped farmers herd sheep and wild ponies. Infused by Thoroughbred blood in the early 1900s, today’s Section B Welsh Ponies are known for their long, low, ground-covering strides, while Section A Welsh Ponies and Section C and D Welsh Cobs are known for snappy knee action. Welsh Ponies’ natural balance and cheerful temperaments make them willing and versatile partners for carriage driving.
Horse: Bay Ridge Magic Blue Reflection (“Rio”)
Bettina got Rio, a 9-year-old liver chestnut Section B Welsh Pony, in 2009 and started driving with Florida’s state club, the Florida Whips. The pair competes in combined driving.
About Rio: Like most Welsh Ponies, Rio is tough and has tremendous heart. He also has extraordinary lung capacity and always finishes the marathon phase with a good heart rate and temperature.
What have been the highlights of your driving career?
Winning the Florida Triple Crown as a Preliminary Pony Driver in 2012; winning the Triple Crown as an Intermediate Pony driver this year; and when Rio was awarded the Hanzi Prize for best of show at Live Oak International.
What do you love most about driving?
I love being able to watch my horse in motion when I’m training. I’ve also become a better rider through driving. You’re so much more aware of your hands, the use of the half-halt, and contact with the bit when driving.
Why does Rio make a good driving horse?
Rio is extremely smart and just gets better with each passing year. He’s sensible, athletic and a good mover.
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This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe!