Horse & Hound
MAXINE HENRIETTA PONSONBY (NÉE THELLUSSON)
THE respected pony breeder and judge died peacefully at home on 25 May, aged 85.
Born in 1934, Mrs Ponsonby spent her youth travelling between the City of London and the Cotswolds. She spent much time with her godmother Gladys Yule, owner of Hanstead Arabian Stud, where she learned about Arabs and thoroughbreds.
Following her marriage in
1956 to the Hon. Thomas (Tom) Ponsonby, second son of the fifth Baron de Mauley, she settled on his family’s farm Little Faringdon, Gloucestershire. The couple had two children, Rupert and George.
Having ridden extensively in her youth, Mrs Ponsonby joined her husband in his great enthusiasm for hunting and regularly followed the VWH hunt based at Cirencester Park.
After Tom retired from hunting they kept horses in training with Nicky Henderson.
Having had an interest in ponies from an early age, which had been greatly encouraged by her godmother and supported by her husband, Mrs Ponsonby formed Lechlade Pony Stud.
Her first purchase in 1961 was Welsh mare Pencoedcae Lily, whose foal in 1962 was the first to be registered with the Lechlade prefix. It was following a bequest in 1964 of the well-bred Welsh foundation mare Tanwen that the Lechlade prefix would soon become one of note within Welsh pony breeding circles.
In 1975, Solway Master Bronze joined the stud as its resident stallion where he was much loved, and stayed for the rest of his life.
Mrs Ponsonby had the ability to select and breed quality ponies; she kept only the best and it shone through in the offspring, including the black 138cm mare Lechlade Violet, who was successfully produced by Colin Rose. Another of note was the 128cm stallion Lechlade Quince, who sired the Horse of the Year Show mini champions Okewood Delightful and Chagford Lewis.
She gained a great deal of respect as a breeder and a judge. She was a supporter and much sought-after panel judge for the pony societies including the National Pony Society, British Show Pony Society and the Welsh Pony and Cob Society.
Well known for an unbiased and fair approach as well as her knowledge and expertise in the field, she was in great demand, and presided over some of the best classes at the premier shows in Britain. She had a special fondness for the children’s ridden classes, in which her prompt and efficient judging meant she always found time to speak to the riders.
Following Mr Ponsonby’s death in 2001, she surprised her family by taking over the running of the farm’s diversification project, a water-skiing lake. When she retired from pony breeding, she found a love for gardening, with roses a speciality.
Mrs Ponsonby was fiercely proud of her family, who adored her in equal measure.