Dr. Ruth Wilburn, President of the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America (“WPCSA”), announced a special lifetime achievement award to Thalia Gentzel for her significant contributions to the WPCSA, the pony hunter world, and the lives of many young riders throughout the course of her life.
From the time she was 12, Thalia rode at the old Cornell University Stables, where she was later a member of the intercollegiate team. When Mollie Butler of Brookside Farm (later GlanNant or “by the brook”) brought the first Welsh ponies to Upstate New York State in 1953, Thalia went to teach nine year old Linda Butler and her friends-and that was life changing. Thalia ended up as a classroom teacher and as a Welsh and hunter pony breeder. "The old GlanNant bloodlines are still good to us, "Thalia says, "and the relationship with Linda very special."
As breeders, Thalia, her husband George, and daughter Molly Rinedollar, have received numerous top ten USEF Leading Pony Hunter Breeder and Sire awards. Many Helicon homebreds have won national recognition, including USEF Pony Finals winners Silver Steps, (Helicon) Touch of Frost, and Helicon Take Notice. During the 15 years Thalia stood the renowned GlanNant Epic he sired Horse of the Year and Finals winners such as Portrait Painter and Tickle Me Too for other breeders. Other Helicon stallions from the late Seventies on were Farnley Sparkler, GlanNant Country Roads, GlanNant Skipper aka Believe In Magic who won the Finals, Helicon Corsair, and Helicon Epilogue. Although ill health has curtailed Thalia and George's breeding program, daughter Molly is still finishing their younger performance ponies at Helicon Show Stables in CO-so the beat goes on!
Fueled by her opinion that Welsh ponies, Welsh cobs, and Welsh crossbreds are the most talented, versatile, willing, and humorous, Thalia wishes that every child and adult could experience the breed. Thus she has been a passionate promoter for over half a century. She now lends support to Dr. Ruth Wilburn's recognition of registered Welsh and Half Welsh at the USEF Pony Finals. For five years, Thalia was the WPCSA cooperative advertising chairman with show management, announcing, and extensive showing in years past.
Well respected for her encyclopedic knowledge of Welsh breeding, Thalia's ability to recall ponies and their breeding lines is truly remarkable. Using the USEF Leading Pony Hunter Sire list she has shown that indeed "blood will tell" for certain families are responsible for a majority of the prominent national winners. For the past six years she has written her annual analyses in The Paisley Pony stallion issue and her regular Pony Profiles column features history, bloodlines, and contemporary information on ponies and their people. Other magazines that have published her work over the decades are Welsh Pony World, Welsh Pony Tales, The Horseman’s Review, IL Equine Market, On Course (the first Pony Profiles column), Welsh Roundabout, The Chronicle, WPCSA's Yearbook and Welsh Review, and The Plaid Horse. She has generously offered to provide all of her historical and nostalgic articles for the WPCSA website archive so they will be readily available to many.