the Carneddau Ponies
For centuries, local farming families have safeguarded an almost mythical creature in the Carneddau Mountains of Snowdonia.
The Carneddau Pony is an ancient, genetically distinct breed of pony that roams freely across the 27,000 acres of rugged terrain. During the reign of Henry VIII, the king ordered that any horse or pony not strong enough to carry a knight in full armour should be destroyed. Gareth Wyn Jones explains how the local farmers, including the Wyn Jones family, “safeguarded the herd on the mountain and have continued to for all that time.”
Click on the video below to be transported to the Carneddau Mountains as the local farmers check on this rare mountain pony
The perfect companion off the beaten track.
The conservation of the Carneddau Ponies is important, but the farmers actually do very little to interfere with the lives of these animals. Using drones, Honda ATVs and Pioneers, the farmers first locate the ponies on the mountain, and then use their machines to climb the steep hills, find them and ensure they are safe.
Honda have a range of durable and powerful ATV’s perfect for taking on the conditions facing the farmers who fulfil the role of caretaking the Carrendau ponies, EPS models have electric power steering making a more comfortable ride, reducing kickback through the handlebars especially over rocky ground.
The New Pioneer 520
The Pioneer 520’s understated size makes it incredibly versatile. At just 1270 mm wide, it can go where other side-by-sides can’t. Narrow width, fully independent suspension, 2 or 4WD – all features that make it perfect for coping with the terrain of the Welsh mountains.
“The mountain is as inhospitable a place for vehicles as you can imagine” but the Pioneer 520 has proven indispensable according to Gareth. A manoeuvrable and versatile vehicle for farming tasks, and ensuring they can reach and protect the Carneddau Ponies.
Once a year, before the harsh winter begins, the farmers break their no interference rule to monitor the health and wellbeing of the ponies. They are rounded up and taken to a farm near Llanfairfechan to be counted, recorded and checked. This round-up has taken place for hundreds of years and the whole community, young and old, gets involved to play their part in the protection of this wild breed. With the help of new technology and machinery, they are now able to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Carneddau terrain is extremely difficult to navigate on any day of the year, but when the snow and ice sets in, that’s when the real challenges begin. “I’ve never driven an ATV or UTV anywhere as challenging as the Carneddau Mountains, especially during winter”.
During 2013, Snowdonia experienced a particularly brutal winter and many of the ponies did not survive. This is why the right machinery and equipment is so important to the farmers here. Having the ability to move around on the mountains means thay they are able to save and rescue the animals when they are in need.
With the help of these machines, the farmers are able to protect the Carneddau Ponies. “Not only are the ponies important to the culture and heritage of north Wales, they play a vital role in the mountain ecology of Snowdonia”. It is an honour for local farmers to safeguard the existence of this breed, so that it may survive for many generations to come.