In the early 1990s there were just a handful of people owning and showing Shetland ponies here in West Wales . In this area at that time, the standard of showing and turnout was, to be honest, fairly poor. Therefore, one or two people put forward an idea to form a Shetland pony group in our area.
One dark and wintry night in 1995, a company of public spirited folks met at my home, Northfield House, near Llandysul, to discuss how to turn an idea into a reality. We had a lively and very productive meeting and, amongst the gathering, were Peggy Whitaker and Jan Rawlings, both, sadly, no longer with us. They are dearly missed, not only for the invaluable contribution they made, but also for the enthusiasm they displayed at every turn.
At the initial meeting, prime objectives were agreed to try to improve the standard of showing, to hold many attractive fun events, especially to include and encourage the children in the Group, and also to hold some useful and informative social events during the Winter. A committee was formed, at which Zoe Snape was elected Events Organiser, Mrs. Vicky Teal was chosen as Secretary and, myself, as Chair Person. We are indebted to Mr. John Biggs FMAAT, of Carmarthen , who drafted the Constitution of the Group at that time.
Within a short space of time, we had a total of 35 active Members which, eventually, reached the grand total of approximately 65 active Members by 1998. Several shows were held indoors, with the two main shows on the United Counties showground. These proved to be very successful, with all the judges coming from the wider showing regions of the UK .
In 1998 a new Committee was elected and continued until 2002 when the basis of the current Committee came into being which has strived to continue to provide not only information and competitive events but also to encourage the children of the Group with attractive fun events
In the Spring of 2006 our Group undertook probably one of its most challenging undertakings; we were asked to appear at the Welsh Festival of the Horse which was held over two days at Margam Park, Port Talbot, South Wales. We agreed to provide a 'History of the Shetland pony' which covered a period in history where these ponies were used by the crofters on the Shetland Islands; to the mines on the mainland; up to the present time with riding and driving. This took the form of a parade which depicted peat carrying, harvesting, shepherding, a pit pony, carriage driving and the famous Shetland Grand National.
We were lent various props from the Shetland Island pony breeders which normally can only be seen on the Islands themselves; added to this our Group threw themselves whole heartedly into portraying later used of the Shetlands, including Pantomine, theatre, up to date show riding, etc. Due to unforeseen circumstances on the day we were asked to lengthen our appearance in the ring and so we suggested that maybe a "come and meet the Shetlands" for the children would work, and after all health and safety double checks were put in force this idea was taken up by the organisers and repeated the second day - a fantastic experience and the ponies seemed to love it.
In the afternoons we performed a Shetland agility course - four teams (in hand), various obstacles - total chaos which the Shetlands themselves appeared to thoroughly enjoy! We even provided coloured flags for the huge crowd who came to watch which corresponded with the team colours - great crowd participation. This was a marvellous opportunity to show how versatile these ponies are and their very important part in the working lives of a by gone age and their continued popularity up to and including the present times. Our Group has had a great deal of "feed back" and all the members who gave up so much of their time and brought their ponies to Margam I know will look back and be proud of their involvement.
Our normal year always includes Shows, socials, periodical "teach-ins", even a BBQ when weather permits. But you never know what we may be asked to do next!