30 Years of a Strong West Wind (1971-2001)
by Peggy Ingles
Severn West Wind and his descendants have dominated the Welsh Pony world, locally and nationally, for close to four decades. The sire of over 150 ponies, with countless get, grandget and great grandget out in the world, West Wind was influential in determining the type and characteristics of most of the later Severn ponies, as well as influencing, through his get, other Section A breeding programs throughout the United States.
A Family Commitment
Severn Oaks Farm was founded in 1947 near the Severn River, north of Annapolis, by Doctors Charles and Elizabeth Iliff. The former Elizabeth Haines met her future husband in the 1930s while both were attending Johns Hopkins Medical School. Charles had a horse that he boarded in the city and she had always wanted a horse, thus the match was made.
Dr. Elizabeth Iliff began by breeding Shetland ponies, but soon changed her focus to Section A Welsh Mountain Ponies. The current breeding program began when Dr. Iliff purchased one of the few Welsh mares available for sale in the United States, *Coed Coch Ebrill (Revolt x Coed Coch Eirlys), from a breeder in New York. Ebrill was a wonderful riding pony, but could “run away” with her rider at the trot, her favorite gait.
In reviewing Ebrill’s papers, Dr. Iliff saw the name of the mare’s breeder in Wales, a Margaret “Daisy” Brodrick of the Coed Coch Stud, and wrote a letter to her, asking to learn more about these beautiful, hardy creatures. Her overture paid off. The following year, Dr. Iliff imported nine mares from Coed Coch Stud, including West Wind’s great grand-dam *Coed Coch Pansi. These nine mares, plus Ebrill, became the foundation of the Severn Oaks breeding program, establishing a dynasty that is still going strong.
Dr. Iliff also bred Arabian horses, but on a much smaller scale. Concentrating on domestic Crabbet bloodlines, she utilized stallions from the Maryland-based Al-Marah and Never Die Arabians, in addition to Gainey-breds. There is still one Half-Welsh broodmare at Severn Oaks whose dam descends from these horses.
All six of the Iliff children participated in the pony business, but the oldest embraced it most. After her mother’s death in 1985, Mary “Tiz” Benedict began to carry on the Severn tradition of thoughtful breeding.
Now a carded United States Equestrian Foundation and Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America Welsh judge, Tiz was also very active with the Severn ponies in her youth. She remembers when, back in the 1950s and 60s, the Maryland State Fair was the biggest Welsh show in the United States. “The show would commonly have upwards of 12 ponies in the stallion class,” she recalls. She rejoined the business actively after a break to raise her family.
Breed The Best To The Best
West Wind’s sire, Severn Storm, was one of the last foals of the stallion *Bowdler Brightlight. Imported by Farnley Farm, Brightlight was a great show champion in the United Kingdom and gained fame as the foundation sire of many of Mrs. J. Austin duPont’s Liseter ponies in the U.S. as well as at Farnley. His dam was *Coed Coch Ebrill, Dr. Iliff’s first Welsh mare. Storm was not shown much as he tended to run his weight off running after mares, but did win Grand Champion Welsh honors at Timonium in 1961.
West Wind’s dam, Severn Lyric, was by *Severn High Tide, a very mellow, laid back pony. Imported in utero, High Tide was by the same sire as Coed Coch Madog, perhaps the most renowned show stallion in Wales from the 1950s through the 1970’s. Lyric’s dam was Severn Stardust, daughter of one of Severn Oaks’ original imports and Dr. Iliff’s favorite mare, *Coed Coch Pansi.
Foaled in 1971, Severn West Wind represented the culmination of these two Severn Oaks foundation stallions and the value of careful line breeding to perpetuate certain characteristics. Known for passing on his sweet, quiet temperament, demand for his progeny grew primarily through word of mouth, and thus, the demand for ponies bred at Severn Oaks.
Even though he was a feisty baby, West Wind matured into a kind, quiet gentleman. He cherished his job of babysitting a field full of weanlings every winter, teaching them manners while keeping them company.
Never broken to ride or drive, West Wind was shown to the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America’s (WPCSA) Section A Stallion Championship in 1978, after which he was retired to stud.
He earned his WPCSA Sire Legion of Merit honors in 1998 and remains on the Top Five all-time Section A Welsh sire standings by points earned at Welsh competitions. West Wind earned this distinction thanks to the winnings of his son, Severn Sirocco, an individual Legion of Merit winner; the mare Oak Orchard Joy; stallion Severn Donegal (halter, drving, pleasure and hunter); the halter winners Severn Olympia, Loafers Lodge El Nino and Severn Coppelia.
Old Testament Prepotency
West Wind also had champion get who made their mark well before the Welsh Registry’s point system was established, including such notables as Extra Dividend and Smoke Tree Tamarin. Other offspring have excelled in different venues, including Severn Jolly Cabello, who is one of very few Section A Welsh to ever compete and win the Advanced Pony Division at Combined Driving Events.
Although West Wind’s major contribution has been to Section A ponies, he is in the pedigrees of a few Section Bs and Half-Welsh conformation ponies, such as Severn Queen of Hearts and Severn Summer Breeze, both of whom have won WPCSA national awards. He also has been the sire of several top hunter ponies over the years including I.C. Blue Shadow, who won at Pony Finals and was named AHSA (former American Horse Show Association, now United States Equestrian Federation) Small Pony Hunter Horse of the Year more than once.
West Wind’s son, Severn Sirocco, won the Individual Legion of Merit award, which he then followed with a Sire Legion of Merit award, Award of Excellence and Order of the Dragon. A charismatic show pony, Sirocco, known as Rocky, won multiple national WPCSA and AHSA titles in pleasure driving and halter. His owner, Dr. Ruth Wilburn of Rollingwoods Farm, says, “He was truly a sight to behold when he extended the trot, floating as if on air. Picture after picture showed all four feet off the ground. His disposition was unbelievable and he completely sold us, as well as the many people who encountered him, on the Welsh Pony.
Although not bred a great deal, Rocky produced some outstanding offspring. Perhaps the most renowned is his Section B daughter, Rollingwoods Who Doone It, the result of an accidental breeding to LOM Rollingwoods Lorna Doone. Who Doone It, a national champion in halter, pleasure driving, carriage driving, and draft driving, earned a Legion of Merit herself as a six year old. Also contributing were the three full siblings Rollingwoods Rockette (champion in halter and English pleasure); Rollingwoods Rockateer (Legion of Merit winner); Rollingwoods Classic Rock (champion in pleasure driving and leading rein); and finally by a Section B gelding Rollingwoods No Rock Like Home with points in halter, English and Western pleasure and now being used as a hunter pony.
West Wind’s daughters have been equally successful in the show ring and as producers of top show ponies. Oak Orchard Joy, bred by Jane Nielson, was a multiple halter champion before she produced 11 foals. Severn High Life (by West Wind grandson Severn Merrymaker) is a multiple National and Regional Champion Stallion, who most recently earned a 7.8 score and approval at a Sport Pony Inspection. Severn Festive Spree is a successful driving pony on the west coast. Joy is also the dam of Oak Orchard Bliss, Happiness Is, Happy Days, Elation, Gaiety, Rapture and Severn Easter Bonnet.
Severn Pansi (x Severn Heather) was the last producing granddaughter of *Coed Coch Pansi when she earned her Dam Legion of Honor in 2007. Contributing to this award were her offspring Severn Jasmine (Talomo Cricket LOM), a performance star winning WPCSA and USEF awards in hunter, pleasure and leading rein; Severn Periwinkle, (*Twyford Cadog), who herself has produced several winning foals including Severn Fire Thorn, WPCSA reserve high point colt in 2006 and Severn Orange Blossom, WPCSA reserve high point filly in 2007; and Severn Bluebell (Lianna’s Dapper Dan), finished the 300 points for her mother as a two year old. Pansi is now 24 and may have retired herself as a broodmare.
Another daughter, Severn Baubles N Beads, was a star from birth. From her sire’s last crop, foaled in 2001 after his death, Bebe was shown as a yearling and two year old and was WPCSA high point Junior Filly both years. In 2007, she won the WPCSA Reserve Championship in English Pleasure, 3rd in Short Stirrup and 5th in Section A Mares and was rewarded with her Legion of Merit.
Grand-get of West Wind’s also include the stallion Severn Gambol (out of Severn Playful), a National Champion Stallion and WPCSA triple Legion of Merit (LOM) winner. His individual LOM was achieved through championships at halter, in driving, Welsh hunter and pleasure. Gambol has a Sire LOM for his purebred offspring and an Award of Honor (AOH) for his Half-Welsh offspring. He has sired Supreme Champion and Champion Welsh ponies and Half-Welsh ponies both on the line and in Performance. He was listed at 44th in the 2008 USEF Leading Pony Hunter Sire rankings.
Severn West Wind, after careful management of COPD and founder for several years, was laid to rest in February 2001. Today, Severn Oaks Farm has nine West Wind daughters in residence. His grandson, Severn Merrymaker (Twinkling Super Star of Penrhyn x Severn Playful by Severn West Wind), a recent LOM winner, is standing at Severn Oaks now as well. These descendents are carrying on the legacy of their father or grandfather, producing the next generation of lovely, personable, talented Welsh ponies.
Welsh Pony Information
Descended from native Celtic ponies which were later infused with Arabian blood, the Welsh Pony was hardy and strong. They survived on meager forage, in a harsh climate and with little shelter. They were used for farm work, transportation and even labored in the coal mines.
Although Welsh Ponies were imported to America in the 1880s, the WPCSA wasn’t founded until 1907. Interest in them waned during the Depression, but enjoyed a resurgence by the 1950s, thanks to breeders in the East who continued their dedication to them.
The Section A is also known as the Welsh Mountain Pony, and must not exceed 12.2 hands. The breed characteristics include beauty, refinement, stamina, soundness, with friendly and easily trained temperaments. Physically they possess a large, bold eye, tiny head, short back, strong quarters, high set on tail, fine hair, hocks that do not turn in, laid back shoulder, straight foreleg and short cannon bone.
Section B do not exceed 14.2 hands and were added to meet the demand for a larger riding pony. They retain all the physical and personality characteristics of the Section A.
The Section C is also known as the Welsh Pony of Cob type. They may not exceed 13.2 hands and are characterized as being strong, hardy and active with pony character and as much substance as possible. Welsh Cobs are known for their gentle nature, and are characterized as strong, hardy and active, with pony character and as much substance as possible. They have bold eyes, strong laid back shoulders, dense hooves, a moderate quantity of silky feather, lengthy hindquarters, and powerful hocks.
Known for their gentle nature, they are characterized as strong, hardy and active, with pony character and as much substance as possible. They have bold eyes, strong laid back shoulders, dense hooves, a moderate quantity of silky feather, lengthy hindquarters, and powerful hocks.
The Section D cob exceeds 13.2 hands with no upper limit on height. A strong and powerful animal, they have gentle natures and are extremely hardy. An ideal mount or driving animal for many adults, the Section D has become a popular choice for dressage, combined training and combined driving.