The Carneddau Ponies live in the mountains of north Wales, primarily Gwynedd, in what is known as Snowdonia or Eryri, in Welsh. Their DNA indicates they are a unique breed of pony that has been isolated for many centuries and they are genetically distinct from the Welsh Mountain pony. In addition, they carry genes specifically related to hardiness and waterproofing. Their population today measures several hundred, though it varies year by year, in large part depending on the severity of the winter weather.
The ponies are not given supplemental feed, and survive on a wider variety of vegetation than domestic ponies, including oft rush, Molinia, gorse and mountain grasses. In winter, they scrape snow off the grass in order to feed.
Although the ponies are wild, they are owned and managed by the Carneddau Pony Society – a group of farmers from Bethesda and Llanfairfechan who are supported through a management agreement with Natural Resources Wales. This group rounds up the ponies every November and sells some in order to maintain the vitality of the grazing lands as well as the health of the herds themselves. According to those involved, the roundup “takes place over 3 weekends and involves all the farmers and their families, local pony enthusiast volunteers, quad bikes, Landrovers and lots of walking. Once they are down on their farms, the surplus animals are sorted for sale. The rest of the herd has a health check, a tail trim to show they have been gathered, and is returned to the mountains.”