PROFILE: Philip Ward-Burton – A Producer’s Point of View

Philip started riding at the age of 3 and got his first pony when he was 13 before starting to go showing from age 14 with the Thrift family who had a mare called Blenhiem Little Madam. He has worked for several riding schools from the ages of 18 to 24 and also worked for a show yard. Philip used to train and ride Spanish horses for Vic Armstrong (stunt coordinator) riding, featuring and doubling in many films, TV and adverts. He has shown everything from hacks/hunters to Irish draughts (having shown Kelly’s Queen to many supremes, she was highest graded mare in England) to Welsh, natives and riding ponies. Philip has competed at HOYS and Olympia and also won at the Royal Welsh. Philip has been breeding Welsh ponies for nearly 20 years and now breeds various natives and plaited coloureds and has professionally produced ponies now for over 8 years. We talk to him about his Exmoor experiences and what its like to have a job that many dream of having.

 

How long have you been producing horses and ponies and what made you start doing it?
I’ve been producing as my full time job for about 8 years, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else now

What is your typical daily routine?
Each day is different depending on what is happening, The only thing that is constant is feeding and mucking out!

We know you have a few of your own ponies, one being Walnut the Exmoor. What made you decide on an Exmoor?
Something different, and I only ended up with him because I swapped 2 Welsh cobs for him! I wouldn’t change him for the world, he is a permanent character on the yard.

To date how many Exmoors have you have in to produce?
I’ve produced 4 Exmoors – Walnut (mine), Bournefield Tudor Rose, Telyn and Coedywern Tegid

Do you find them any different to other horses and ponies you have in?
Yes completely different, totally unique characters and temperaments to other ponies

How do you cope with the difference in them?
Just understanding their special ways and dealing with them accordingly, Each horse is different anyway, Exmoors are just very intelligent.

What are your pet hates to see in the show ring, in general and with Exmoors in mind?
Ponies turned out badly. Handlers not showing their ponies to full potential. Bad losers. Ponies being run too fast, Incorrect handling is also frustrating.
They have to be true to type. Don’t do Exmoors with no bone, no depth through the shoulder and ones that simply don’t move. Same for any breed really. Another pet hate is over produced fat ponies with handlers who look like they are on a fashion parade!
And rudeness. Manners don’t cost anything and that is from competitors and judges!

In your personal opinion what are the best and worst traits of the Exmoor?
Temperament!

Is that for both? 
Yes!

Its a common joke that your don’t smile….. Would you care to explain this?
[laughs] I don’t smile full stop. Never have done really. However, in the ring I’m normally concentrating or knackered!!! And I can’t fake smile for a camera.
​See the only photo a Philip smiling as this pages header!

Can you offer any advice some someone wishing to walk into the producing life?
Yeah, don’t do it. Long hours, no money and pain in the bum clients! (that last bit is a joke, all my clients are fantastic) Don’t take on too many ponies, if your going to produce it’s a 24 hour a day 365 day a year job.

When producing, do you feel you have to treat them differently to any other horse or pony?
I try to treat all the ponies whatever breed the same, They are all part of the family and I take care of them as if they were my own, They are allowed to have their own personalities and enjoy life. They are animals, not machines.

In the Exmoor world… are their any ponies you particularly admire.. any you worry about being major competition?
I don’t worry about any pony in the ring. Admire, not really, but there are some I like a lot though!

If you could have your pick of an Exmoor, past or present to produce is there any you would love to have on the yard?
Walnut every time, I love him to bits, and Siskin. I think he is most peoples dream.

What do you pride yourself on?
Winning! Haha! Doing the best I can for the ponies and showing a pony to its full potential. Being polite and sporting to all other competitors.

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