Origins of Tynybryn Stud.
Article written by Jean Jones for The Seven Valley Welsh Pony and Cob Association Magazine on the origins of Tynybryn.
Dan Gethin my grandfather came to Tynybryn in 1914 as a tenant of the Gregynog Estate. He had married Florence Bowen daughter of Dwyrheiw Mill New Mills and they had started married life at Dengaer Adfa with a hen and chickens as their only stock.
Dan was the son of John Gethin Tycoch Llawyddelan. The Gethin's of Tycoch were know as horsemen.
My father Derrick was born in 1919 and like me and my sister Joy could never remember not being able to ride. He had two sisters Dilys and Doreen. Dilys married John Edwards, they founded the famous Weston Stud. His younger sister Doreen married Ralph Barratt, they had the Hisland Stud.
Dan Gethin used to buy mountain ponies to supply the pits in the North of England and the Midlands. My father used to go with his father and various uncles to buy the ponies at fairs all over South Wales. The pits in the North wanted the ponies that were too big for the South Wales pits. They would buy all the three year old geldings and stallions that they could find. My father told of whole days at Tynybryn castrating as many as fifty or sixty ponies themselves. The ponies would be put out on tack much the same as people take grass keep for sheep nowadays until they were big enough and fit enough for their work in the pits of Durham. They were driven to the railway station at Newtown by men riding horses. Dad used to talk of a mare that he used to ride who could work ponies like a sheepdog works sheep.
They also bought horses for the railway and acted as agents taking the buyers around local farms to buy what we would now call half leg horses. They supplied the Yeomanry with remounts. My father used to tell the story of riding to the camp at Oswestry to deliver two horses riding one and leading another. When he saw all the Soldiers in their uniforms riding in formation he thought it was wonderful. My grandfather came to collect him in the car, on the way home he asked Granddad if he could join up. Soon enough to go when they come for you boy was the answer he received.
I can remember one day the yard at Tynybryn full of ponies. There was only one white one and Granddad kept it for me. He was my first pony then Joy’s his name was Snowball and he was earmarked. When we used to gallop Dad wanted to know could we hear the wind whistling through the hole in his ear.
Granddad Dan had a dreadful accident when his leg got caught in a diesel engine, he was very disabled and Snowball was the last horse he ever rode. He used to be saddled in the morning and tied to the garden wicket in case Granddad felt like going out. One story tells of Granddad being in charge of watching the bread rising in front of the range and the hunt came through the yard. He left the bread which finished up all over the kitchen floor and got on the pony and went after the hunt.
There were always Stallions at Tynybryn. Shire Stallion who they travelled in the Shire Horse Premium Scheme. My father would set off from Tynybryn on a Monday morning and ride to Carno to spend the night at Siop Y Groes. On the way he would meet mares at various farms. On his way home he spent the next night at the Cwm Aberhaphesp. He put a seg into the horse’s mane every morning before he set out. The Stallion was so big that he had to sit astride his neck to do it.
It was at this time that he met Joyce Jones the blacksmiths daughter at Pontdolgoch. She used to drive her Austin Seven car to meet him when he was on his way to Carno and take a dinner for him and he would sit on the grass verge to eat it.
They were married in 1941 and she wears a lovely three stone diamond engagement ring that Dad bought for her with the half crowns that he was paid as grooms fee.
I was born in 1945,and my sister Joy was born in 1947. We always had ponies and took them to shows. The difference then to now was that we showed the same ponies that we took hunting and to Pony Club. My sister Joy was by far the best show rider, I was always keener on show jumping and cross country.
I can only just remember the show at Tregynon. At one Tregynon show Grandfather Dan was introduced to George Bernard Shaw who was staying at Gregynog Hall. He was asked by the famous author to point out the different attributes of the Welsh Cob and the Thoroughbred. Granddad did his best but George Bernard Shaw said “ If it was a snowy night and you had to fetch the doctor which one would you take the Cob or the Thoroughbred ?” Granddad said, “It depends on how far away the doctor lived”
The first stallion I can remember here was Hurricane, a bay thoroughbred who sired Happy Morn who won the Champion Hurdle.
Grandfather Dan died in 1952 and my parents moved into Tynybryn Thoroughbreds were probably always Dad’s first love and my Grandfathers.
In 1956 my parents went to the sales at Newmarket and tell of a mare called Alma’s Girl coming into the sales ring with a big foal by her side , covered by Damremont but believed not to be in foal. Dad turned to Mum and said “ Well she looks in foal to me “ and they bought her for £75. She was in foal and her first foal was Galmont who was the first Hunters Improvement Society Premium Stallion at Tynybryn.
Alma’s Girl was the foundation mare at Tynybryn for my father. Hill Farmer was her Grandson and he is the Grandsire of Gentle Annie our 15.2 mare that we sadly lost this year.
In 1961 I met John Jones of Church House Farm, Llanwnog. He was always interested in horses and desperately wanted a mare of his own. Dad owned a grey thoroughbred mare called Pinky that he had bought, broken, hunted and competed on himself. He sold her to a man who hunted her with the Whaddon Chase and when her hunting days were over he sold her back to Tynybryn as a brood mare. I never know who John loved the most in those days that mare or me. He begged my father to sell her to him. Finally Dad said “ if you can catch her you can have her “. John was in the field bucket in hand until well after dark.. He did eventually become the owner of the grey thoroughbred mare but not that night !!
We were married in 1966 and went to farm at Johns home Church House Farm, Llanwnog . We always came back and forth to help with the horses and had youngsters of Dad’s and our own to break and sell.
Tynybryn had a succession of Premium Stallions Galmont, Ionoar, Bijou Boy, River Poaching, Dunblane, John’s Pride, Ash View, Phleez, Maestoso, Willowcratic, Hill Farmer, Big Ivor, Fine Blue up to the present day Honour’s Degree and Aspect. (See previous Stallions and Stallions at Stud)
He was always on the lookout for a stallion and bought some lovely horses. It’s not always easy to visualise a raw three or four year old straight from the race course looking like a whippet that will develop into a stallion with the correct conformation that people will want to use to sire their eventers, hunters and show horses.
When we were children there were always a few section A’s and B’s around . Some that we showed and sold.
My son Dan was born in 1969 and Tim in 1971 and were sat on ponies at a very young age. I must have walked miles with one on the pony and one in the pram.
As soon as the boys were born Dad was covering his section A mares with a thoroughbred stallion and bred some brilliant ponies for the boys.
He went to Fayre Oaks sale and returned home with a section B colt because he couldn’t get enough money for it. This was Forestland Dandy who was Dan’s first serious pony, he went on to be Tim’s and then all Lord and Lady Davies’s children. Helen Kinsey’s two girls both rode him and lots other children in between and is still hunting with young Tom Davies at Red House, Tregynon. He must be the longest serving pony ever with the David Davies Pony Club.
Dozens and dozens of horses have been shown from Tynybryn probably the biggest successes would have been with a part bred Welsh mare Daisy Hill. She was bred by Len and Anne Bigley out of Llaniarth Nerissa by our home bred Thoroughbred Hill Farmer. She came to us when the Trembarth family who owned her rang us asking did we know of a good home for her as they were giving up horses. We rang every showing family that we could think of but no one wanted to buy her, so Dad as a last resort to help the people out bought her for Mum.
She won Championships by the bucketful and was a pleasure to know and very much loved. Our small brood mare Gentle Annie who won the Hunter Championship at the Royal Welsh in 1996 was out of her by Big Ivor.
We have a part bred stallion Drayton at Tynybryn . Dad bought him as a foal. He is by the Irish Draught stallion Skippy out of a thoroughbred mare and is certainly a one off and irreplaceable. I think the best way to describe him is versatile. He has sired horses as varied as top class eventers Show Hunter Pony Boycott Tonic who’s dam from River Poaching on one side and Big Ivor on the other is by him. Tonic was recently Supreme Champion at the British Elite Horse Show. Drayton is also the sire of Meinir Evans foal who was Champion Part Bred at the Welsh National Foal Show at Builth and recently, Champion Part Bred at The Royal Welsh Show 2002.
Over the years since my Grandfathers day up to present there must have been hundreds of visiting mares here and thousands of people, each thinking that their mare was the first one to come here and the most important one. The people at Tynybryn have tried desperately hard to make sure that each one was treated as though it was. We are always pleased to see the first mare arrive and mightily relieved to see the last one leave safe and sound.
My father died on New Years morning 1998 farming and loving his horses to the end. He will be a hard act to follow. We have inherited an enormous amount of knowledge from him but if I had to choose just one thing it would be his “eye for a horse “.
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