The Lone Butte-based breeder of a rare Scottish pony breed has received a prestigious award.
Ann Armann of Circle H Ranch has been presented the Ambassador Award for Outstanding Breeder by the Highland Pony Enthusiasts Club of North America (HPECA). She was awarded for both introducing and significantly promoting the Highland Pony in North America.
HPECA treasurer Judy Brescia of Virginia travelled to Lone Butte last summer to present Ann with a handmade vase carved and painted with Circle H ponies, as well as an embroidered vest and a rosette sash.
“I was extremely honoured by the totally unexpected award by the HPECA, and the beautiful pottery vase that I will always treasure and feel very gratified and humbled to have received,” says Ann.
“Breeding these wonderful ponies and having them in my life has been my pleasure and fulfilment.”
Thirty-four foals have been born, handled and weaned on Circle H Ranch before being sold to owners across eight states and three provinces. Combined with Ann’s breeding stock of eight ponies, this represents about half of all the Highlands in North America, with the balance mostly imported from Scotland (after she began breeding).
“Ann spends a lot of time promoting the breed and introducing Highlands to people unfamiliar with the breed,” says Judy.
“She is very forthright with potential buyers and helps them select a pony that matches their needs. Her ponies all receive a basic education before shipping out to their new owners, and Ann is very supportive in helping settle the ponies in their new homes.”
Also a sheep farmer and cattle rancher, Ann say she was less involved in her family’s longtime Highland Pony breeding activities in Scotland until her mother, Pat Scobie, suddenly shipped her four, four-year-old mares in 1996. They were followed by two more mares in 1997, and all were bred from her mother’s mares and Coulmore studs.
Pat also sent two, unrelated Glenbanchor-bred stallions across the ocean to her daughter, and before long, Ann was in the breeding business.
“It is a huge honour that mum sent them, in the beginning, and without asking for anything financial.
“It was quite exciting. I couldn’t believe it when they arrived with Coulmore [Scottish] mud on them.”
Ann also credits her pony breeding success to her late husband, Ernie Armann, an accomplished horseman who really showed her the ropes when it came to handing equines.
“I was interested because Ernie was, and the Cariboo is such a great place for these ponies. And, it also gave me a huge interest because it was a part of Scotland that had followed me.”
Highland Ponies have a special quality about them, she notes, from the big-eyed look they give folks to the consistent interest and communicative manner they maintain.
Ann keeps in contact with the owners of her ponies and follows the animals’ progress and achievements.
Her own ponies have participated at the Mane Event in Chilliwack, the Calgary Stampede and many other shows, and are frequent participants in the Santa Claus Parade in 100 Mile House.
“I feel immensely proud that, collectively, breeders, owners and advocates have made the Highland Pony breed recognizable on this continent, and hope we can strive to keep the knowledge of this wonderful breed alive.”
Known as “the versatile breed,” the Highland’s are a comparatively large and sturdy pony breed that dates back about 10,000 years.
Many Circle H-bred ponies successfully compete in vaulting, dressage, jumping, driving and other events. Some also appear at the foremost breed demonstration, the Highland Games in New Hampshire, and the national Equine Affaire in Massachusetts. They are also used for trail riding and ranch work.
Two of Ann’s Highlands were recently named as HPECA Pony Ambassadors – Circle H MacDougal (owned by Debbie Bailey of Vancouver) and Circle H Glenfiddich (owned by Deb Coburn of New Hampshire).
They were chosen for the many years they have been out in the public eye demonstrating the versatility of the Highland Pony, such as dressage, trail rides, drill team, vaulting and representing the breed at horse expos.
Queen Elizabeth II is the patron of the Scottish Highland Pony and owns several that she reportedly continues to ride today.