Virginia Gunter of
To breed Welsh ponies for 30 years
is no small feat. Virginia Gunter of Tamarack Farm in Charlton,
MA, has accomplished this small wonder. Virginia's love of ponies goes
back to her childhood. According to Virginia, "My first pony was
brought into our barn after I was sound asleep on an April night when I
was not yet 6 years old. She was said to be Welsh, but in size only,
through ancestry, never! Shaggy, straight necked, large of head, with
pale blue watch eyes, lovable, not pretty, she appeared to be a mixture
of Shetland and mustang. Papa had a copy of the National Geographic
featuring beautiful color plates of the horses of the world. I fancied
the lovely, fine Welsh ponies I saw there and vowed that when I grew up
I would raise real Welsh ponies."
When Virginia first began in 1953, there were about 375 living registered Welsh in the U.S. Early foundation stock was purchased from Farnley Farm and Severn Oaks Farm. In 1954, Tamarack Ann Margaret and Tamarack Abel Douthit were born. Since then, the alphabet of Tamarack ponies has gone through the Z's and started again with the A's. The Tamarack dictionary of ponies includes over 215 ponies.
The mid-1950s proved to be the start of the 'pony boom’. Many imported ponies came to the U.S. By purchasing mares in foal many notable bloodlines were introduced to the herd. Usually Tamarack stood two stallions. From this early period, three stallions and several mares stand out with consistent production and noteworthy breeding.
Farnley Starbright 1323 (95001 (Bowdler Brightlight x Coed Coch Seren) was a substantial grey 12.2 hand mare. Her sire, .Bowdler Brightlight (1303), was a stallion of note, winning much in the U.K. before coming to the U.S. Her dam, .Coed Coch Seren (85391, was described as a "delightful brown mare" by Wynne Davies in his book, "Welsh Ponies and Cobs." .Coed Coch Seren's influence lives on today mainly through her famous son Farnley Sirius 1147 (1646). Farnley Sirius was the first son of Coed Coch Glyndwr to come to the U.S. Farnley Penelope 1558 (Farnley Sirius x Revel Penwen) was a chestnut roan 11.3 hand mare that combined this blood with that of Revel Springlight (1696). Revel Springlight also sired the 1963 Female Royal Welsh winner Revel Caress (11424).
Cui Bay Bee 1434 (9690) (Criban Snowball x Cwmowen Lady Bird) was a prolific producer. Her sire, Criban Snowball (1746) combined the blood of Coed Coch Glyndwr with that of Criban. Snowball's pedigree reads like the who's who of Criban ponies including Criban Shot (1276), Criban Winston (1705), Criban Cockade (1627), Criban Chief (1307) and Criban Socks (8703) to mention only a few. Cwmowen Lady Bird's (9394) pedigree is less well known in the U.S. but includes many old Forest and Grove turn-of-the-century ponies.
Another mare, Twin-Gates Princess-Lyn, 2889 (Coed Coch Meilyr x Plumgarth's Filigree) added a tremendous concentration of Dyoll Starlight (4) blood to the Tamarack herd. Her sire, Coed Coch Meilyr 1589 (1947) (Tregoyd Starlight x Coed Coch Mefusen) was the 1950 Male Champion at the Royal Welsh. He was also half brother to Coed Coch Madog (1981). Plumgarth's Filigree 1577 (9883) added further concentrations of Dyoll Starlight blood. All added up, Twin-Gates Princess-Lyn had over 30 percent Dyoll Starlight blood and was one of the most linebred Dyoll Starlight mares in North America.
The mare, Severn Garnet 1606 (Severn Storm x Coed Coch Trysor) and her 7/8 brother Severn Tornado 1610 (Severn Storm x Coed Coch Morfa) spent many successful years at Tamarack. Their sire, Severn Storm 1320 was by .Bowdler Brightlight out of Coed Coch Ebrill1114 (8887) (Revolt x Coed Coch Eirlys). Their dams were both Tan- Y Bwlch Berwyn daughters.
Severn Nettle 2132 (Severn High Tide x Coed Coch Pansi) turned out to be Mrs. Gunter's favorite Section A stallion. Severn Nettle was a product of the now famous Coed Coch Glyndwr and Tan- Y-Bwlch Berwyn cross. Severn Nettle was a perfect child's pony in disposition with plenty of substance and type. Severn Blue Boy 4179 (Severn High Tide x Severn Silver Dust) was the last Section A stallion to seriously influence Tamarack ponies.
From left to right: Severn Garnet (Severn Storm x Coed Coch Trevor), Severn Nettle (Severn High Tide x Coed Coch Pansi) and Severn Tornado (Severn Storm x Coed Coch Morfa).
Tamarack Nell. Photo 1975.
Farnley Starbright 1323 (Bowdler Brightlight x Coed Coch Seren). Photo 1954 at Farnley Farm.
*Cui Bay Bee (Criban Snowball x Cwmowen Lady Bird) with foal Tamarack Encore.
In 1964, Mrs. Gunter decided to start breeding Section B ponies. To quote Mrs. Gunter, "We made this change because it presents an exciting challenge to produce large ponies, for which there is a constant demand, while maintaining the lovely heads, good legs, supple necks, alert presence and Welsh personality of the little fellows."
The transfer of emphasis to Section B ponies went very smoothly. Severn Torru:u1o being a Tan- Y- Bwlch Berwyn grandson had the potential of giving size to his offspring. Severn Nettle's grand dams were both by Tan-Y-Bwlch Berwyn. The two Section B mares, Tamarack Jewel (Severn Nettle x Severn Garnet) and Tamarack Guide Star (Severn Nettle x Farnley Starbright) were excellent foundation mares.
To tap this size potential in her broodmares, .Coed Coch Ballog B-2919 (2518) (Criban Victor x Berwyn Beauty) stood at stud for a few months at Tamarack Farm. The 2 year old colt, GlanNant Character B-7399 (Kirby Cane Jay x Coed Coch Prydyddes) was purchased. Crefeld Shelia 8313 (Coed Coch Meilyr x Pendock Scilla) was purchased in foal to .Cusop Sheriff B-11466 (3213) (Cusop Call Boy x Coed Coch Brenhines Sheba_.
During this period, Tamarack Lady Linda 14879 (Coed Coch Ballog x Twin Gates Princess-Lyn) , Tamarack Locket 13935 (GlanNant Character x Tamarack Gem), Tamarack Lodestar 14881 (Coed Coch Ballog x Tamarack Guide Star) and the two colts, Tamarack Mark B-16130 (GlanNant Character x Tamarack Guide Star) and Tamarack Matthew 15718 (Cusop Sheriff x Crefeld Shelia) were born. All of these ,ponies except Tamarack Locket, have made important contributions to the breeding program.
Certainly 1969 and 1970 were exciting years since the first foal crops of Tamarack Matthew and Tamarack Mark were born. In 1970, the outstanding colt Tamarack Quill B-21448 (Tamarack Matthew x Tamarack Lena) was born.
Tamarack Lena 14880 was by Severn Blue Boy out of Farnley Penelope. According to Ms. Gunter, Tamarack Quill had "good bone, exceptionally straight and correct feet and legs, show presence and small pony quality in a larger size." Until Tamarack Quill's sale in 1977, he was the principal sire at Tamarack. Quill has made a lasting mark on Tamarack ponies.
In more recent years further Section B bloodlines have come to Tamarack Farm. Findeln Periwinkle B-13271 (.Brockwell Spider x Belvoir Rose Petal) added size to her offspring until her death in 1982. Two recent stallions, Crossroads Sunshine B-25611 (Plum Creek Midnight x Farnley Calla) and Farnley May time B-25281 (Farnley Lustre x Farnley Mayflower) have made important contributions of size and quality. Presently, Crossroads Sunshine stands at stud at Tamarack Farm.
Today Tamarack ponies can be found all across the United States. Tamarack Pendant (Tamarack Matthew x Tamarack Jewel) has gone on to be a champion in Ohio. Tamarack Queen (Tamarack Matthew x Tamarack Kristen) has become a top dressage pony and wins much in California. Tamarack Uranium (Tamarack Quill x Tamarack Jewel) has become a successful sire in Virginia. Tamarack Nell (Severn Blue Boy x Farnley Penelope) was a successful hunter pony on Long Island, N.Y.
Currently, Mrs. Gunter is reducing her herd. The demands of keeping a large pony herd have become too much for Virginia to handle by herself. She wishes to keep a large gelding to ride, a couple of ponies for the grandchildren and a broodmare. All of us who know Virginia Gunter are grateful for the knowledge and experiences that she freely shares with us. She is a quiet yet articulate woman who has done much to further Welsh ponies. Her childhood dream of raising beautiful Welsh ponies has certainly come true!
Tamarack Quill (Tamarack Matthew x Tamarack Lena). Photo 1978.
Tamarack Jasper. Photo 1967. Champion Roadster, state of Maine in 1967.
Tamarack Mark (GlanNant Character x Tamarack Guide Star).
Tamarack Black Pool (Crossroads Sunshine x Tamarack Whirlpool). Photo 1981.