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How DID the American Draft Pony Association Start?

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Do You Remember? 

That old pony your grandfather told you about? The one that the kids used to drive to that little one room schoolhouse down the road. The pony so well broke, that once the kids got to school, they would turn it around smack it on the rump, and it would make its way home. And when time came to pick up those same children, someone from home would harness that pony up, smack it on the rump, and send it on its return trip. Or what about the pony your dad had as a child, that the family used to cultivate the garden? The one that made the perfect baby-sitter? The little mare you had as a child, that you bred to your father's old draft horse, just so you could have a colt of your own to play with? Draft ponies have been around for as many years as people have had those little cross bred ponies. They bred them to the neighbor's horse or bought them from a sale. There were no idle animals when it came to farming, they always had to help pull their own share of the load. So it was no wonder that eventually someone would begin to see their potential as a true breed, instead of just a byproduct of an age gone by. 

The foundation of the American Draft Pony Association and Registry came about as a result of the several good men who had a great idea. Rex Garner, of Converse, Indiana had a dream to establish the draft pony as a working member of the horse society. In 1970 this dream started to take shape, when the first draft pony association was formed. The Indiana Draft Pony Association, held their very first meeting in a small stockyard in Amboy, Indiana. Rex felt he needed a partner for this venture and teamed up with W.H. Jameson, of Greentown, Indiana to start up some draft pony shows. 

Both men had experience working horses, having grown up during the depression, and they set out to get more exhibitors involved in showing their draft ponies. Through the efforts of both these men, their first draft pony show took place July 4, 1970, in Amboy, Indiana with five working classes. The exhibitors were Rex Garner, W.H. Jameson, Paul Oatess, Roy Kendell and Eli Miller making their first appearance in the 46" classes. Already the height limit was set too low, making it necessary to change the height to 50" to attract more exhibitors. Participation greatly increased by their third show. 

From 1972 through 1977 was one of the strongest periods in growth for the draft pony. They had more shows offered at this time than ever before. Two exhibitors, W.H. Jameson and Paul Oatess, were the first to go looking true a true draft pony. They ended up at Temple Farms, near Chicago, where they found the Haflinger. Both gentleman bought and showed Registered Haflingers. Rex on the other hand, coming from the old school, wanted to show blacks, and his friend Ralph Druck preferred grays. They went on many trips seeking for something that really didn't exist. For in the 1970's and early 80's black and gray draft ponies were almost impossible to find. During this time, Rex got a little impatient and bought himself a Percheron mare to show. Rex himself will tell you, his biggest mistake was not breeding this mare to a draft pony to get the blacks he really wanted. 

Rex worked for ten years as the President of the Indiana Draft Pony Association. They are the oldest draft pony club in America. Mike Garner, Rex's son, showed for about 10 years. His daughters, Vickie Stout of Wabash, and Patty Hagan of Converse, Indiana are still showing. 

Ralph Druck was one of the first directors and showed at the first show in Indiana. His son Jeff, and daughter Angie, both showed. Ralph still has a pair of black geldings today. 

W.H., "Bud" Jameson of Greentown, Indiana served on the board as director for over twenty-five years. He also showed at the Indiana State Fair for over fifteen years and raised his own ponies. Bud's son, Bill Jameson, and granddaughter Lori are still showing at present, along with his great-grandson. 

Mr. Paul Oatess and Sons of Marion, Indiana had some of the top stock in the 1970's. John Oatess built some of the show wagons that exhibitors were, and are still using today. Paul was one of the original directors. 

Joe Jackson of Marion, Indiana had one of the top 4-up pony hitches in the 1970-80'S. He also was one of the original directors. His son Chad showed draft ponies into the 1990's and did service for the draft pony association. 

As this association grew and headed into the late 1980's another member came up with an excellent idea. To keep track of the breeding of draft ponies. That way, you could go back, and hopefully find, through breeding how to cross and repeatedly get the correct match. This man was Carl "Bing" Bechtold from North Manchester, Indiana. So in 1991, twenty-one years after that first dream, the second dream came true for the breeders of draft ponies. 

The American Draft Pony Association and Registry was established and chartered for the express purpose of cataloging and registering draft type ponies, in the hopes of one day establishing the "Draft Pony" as an official breed. At the very least, it was the hope of the association to record and document bloodlines for future posterity. They also decided that the American Draft Pony Association and Registry would work and breed for the betterment of the American Draft Pony. The primary goal of the American Draft Pony Association will be to promote a Draft Pony that has a draft type that resembles the Belgian, Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, Suffolk, American Cream, or Spotted Draft. CoIor NOT to be discriminated against. The main difference between a Draft Pony and draft horse is size. A Draft Pony should be an exact replica, on a smaller scale, and should not exceed 58" in height, when measured behind the front legs from the ground to the top of the withers, where the shoulder meets the crest. (Unlike American Miniature Horse rulings which require height to be measured where the last hairs of the mane grow, which would be closer to the bottom of the withers.) 

Now in 2002, Carl Bechtold called Ronald and Susan Algire of Fredericktown, Ohio about taking over the American Draft Pony Association and Registry. He no longer was able to do business because of failing health. The dream was still there and he wanted the association to grow and do business. He still believed that the draft pony could, and should, become a working member ot the horse society. So in January 2003, the American Draft Pony Association and Registry became the property of the Algire's and the association was back in business with a new address. They started at square one, and sent letters out to those who were listed as members back in the early 1990s. No list was available of any current members. At one time this association had over 150 members. Many people had believed in the dream of the working draft pony as a member of the horse society. There are many more showing interest in the association, now. 

So What Are Draft Ponies? 
They are a miniature of one of the established draft breeds (Belgian, Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, Suffolk, American Cream, or Spotted Draft.) They must show the conformation character of a draft horse. In form, the ideal American Draft Pony must be: broad, deep, heavily and smoothly muscled, neatly balanced, sound, have ample style and quality, combined with good action. A quiet disposition, sound wind, and good eyes are utility points worthy of much emphasis. 

A draft pony is more useful and attractive, and handles himself more easily when he has more moderate length in his legs than when the legs are very short. The entire rear quarters must be suggestive of power. A broad and long croup that is carried fairly level from the hips to the setting of the tail is preferred. The thighs must be heavily muscled. The gaskins likewise should indicate strength. Draft ponies with deep and well-sprung ribs usually have a good useful middle, a drafty top and a neatly carried bottom line. Deep, muscular shoulders that are neatly laid throughout and have adequate slope, are usually associated with a free and determined stride. 

While body length in a draft pony is desirable, it is noticeable in the good drafters that nicely sloping shoulders and a long, fairly level croup tend to be associated with a strong back and a moderately long and neatly carried underline. A full, deep chest when combined with smoothly laid and nicely sloping shoulders insures a desirable placing of the forelegs. But a long and reasonably level croup makes it possible for the rear legs to be set back where they belong. 

A draft pony with a neck at least medium in length, handles much more easily than one with a short, thick neck. The neck should fit smoothly into the shoulder, be neat and lean at the throttle and taper gracefully toward the head. Well-bred, active, high quality ponies which carry their head and neck moderately high are, as a rule, sure-footed and travel with a good stride. 

The pony's head should be in proportion to the size of the body and show distinctly the features that indicate quality, vigor, character, good breeding and intelligence. They should have large, prominent and clear eyes, which insure good vision. Their ears should be of medium length with fine texture, well placed up towards the poll, gracefully carried, and suggest alertness. A wide full forehead is suggestive of intelligence. The jaws should be wide at the angles underneath and show at least moderate depth. A broad nose and muzzle characterize a good feeder and large, though not greatly distended, nostrils are essential for easy breathing. A straight profile adds to the lean, clean-cut appearance of the head. 

The feet and legs of the draft pony influence in part, the action, and ability to wear. The size of the bones and feet should be adequate for the weight they support. The feet and legs should be shapely so they will wear well. The joints must be large enough to indicate strength and be lean, clean-cut, well-defined and free from meatiness. Both knees and hocks should be well supported below, with a flat cannon bone, which indicates that the tendon is set well back from the cannon. The pasterns must have at least moderate length and slope, be clean cut and free from unnecessary fullness. Feet that wear well and stay sound the longest, are invariably large, not only on the ground surface but also at the hoof head. The heels are wide, fairly high and the sole concave. The bars in a good foot must be well-defined to prevent contraction of the heel. The hoof should be dense and show good wearing qualities. The frog should also show fullness. If the feet are well balanced and the legs straight and properly balanced, the pony usually moves straight. 

Draft Ponies that are selected for show purpose do not differ from the best quality commercial drafters. Indeed, the very object of the show ring is to develop a common understanding of the merits that specifically concern the usefulness for which the different types of equine are produced. Every show prospect, however, should be carefully examined for action, as this receives a great deal of attention in the show ring. The action of a draft pony must be energetic, elastic, balanced and well coordinated. A long stride, when it is natural for a pony, contributes an element of boldness or determination to the gait, which suggests a natural willingness. The hocks should be kept together and under control at both the walk and trot. The movement of all feet and legs should always be under control and properly coordinated with a straight and smooth forward movement of the body. The general appearance of the Draft Pony must be representative in every detail of the maximum efficiency of those characteristics which experience has designated as desirable in commercial service, and it is upon these characteristics that the judge places his greatest emphasis in making the awards. 

Ponies crossed with any type of established "Draft" breed are encouraged. Belgian, Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, Suffolk, American Cream, or Spotted Draft crosses will only typify desired qualities. But Welsh, Haflinger, Friesian, Dale, Fell and Morgan or any other such breed that was originally bred and raised for the specific purpose of performing heavy work fall under this "Draft" heading. The word "Draft", meaning to haul or pull a load, and the word "Pony", established as an equine measuring 58" (14.2 hands) or under, comprise the only requirements necessary to register an animal. As genetics has taught us, many times first generation (and often some 2nd or 3rd generation) Draft Horse to Pony crosses will mature over the 14.2hh height limit depending upon the original stock.  These crosses are still eligible for registration with the American Draft Pony Association and are considered "Breeding Stock".  It will establish lineage for subsequent pony crosses that do measure under the limit. Just be aware that if you decide to exhibit, most individual shows will require animals to be measured under their own specified limits according to their rules.

The primary function of the American Draft Pony Association and Registry is to establish Rules and Regulations to promote and improve this new breed of working pony. To Work and Breed for the Betterment of the American Draft Pony is our purpose, and gaining recognition as an established breed is our goal. We offer many services to our members, including discounted registration of their draft ponies, show and sale information, free advertisement on our web page (www.americandraftpony.org) and helpful tips and informative articles in our newsletter. For further information on how to become a member feel free to contact us: 

American Draft Pony Association & Registry 
9621 Overly Rd. 
Fredericktown, Oh 43019 
ph.: 740-694-7913 
fax: 740-694-1805 
email: americandraftpony@earthlink.net 
american_draft_pony@yahoo.com 

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