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Model steps in front of the Ceffylau Cymru cameras

Horses play a central role in the lives of many Welsh people, from breeders and farriers to jockeys and blacksmiths. Horses mean work for some, leisure for others and for a few they become an obsession!

The Ceffylau Cymru series returns to S4C on Tuesday, 28 March, and will look at the important roles of horses in Wales.

During the series we'll learn more about the history of the renowned Derwen Stud cobs. We'll delve into the history of a Welsh pony from the Eyarth breeders near Corwen, and hear about the success of breeders Ron and Debbie Thomas from Llanddarog.

David Oliver from Cefn Coch near Llanfair Caereinion in Mid Wales will return to present the new series, and this time he'll be joined by Nia Marshalsay-Thomas. Although Nia, 30, from Llanddeiniol, Aberystwyth, is a new face on S4C, she has certainly made her mark in the equine world. She has been showing horses and competing in the saddle since she was three years old, including the Horse of Year Show in 2013.

Nia says, "I've always been around horses, and I can't imagine life without them. I love everything about them - the noise, the smell, the way they move. If you feel upset, I think a horse can sense that. I could watch them all day.

"The interest in horses runs in the family. My mother sparked it off. I can't really remember doing anything other than competing with horses in shows on the weekends. The whole family would go off to compete together – me, my mother, father and my sister Eleri," said Nia.

But despite her passion for horses, Nia earns her living working in an office, not the stables. She is a Human Resources Officer for Ceredigion Council, but has also been modeling for about five years. Among the brands she has modelled for are Jaguar Landrover, Clogau jewellery, and Rideaway equine clothing. But presenting in front of a TV camera was a very different experience.

"Although modelling and presenting are both a form of 'performing' in front of the camera, they are completely different. I really enjoyed the filming - modelling is more about the product or clothing, but filming a series is about the people taking part. But I was very nervous! I knew David Oliver already, as we've been going to the same shows at weekends for years, and he's a real character, so that made it much easier!

"I had some dressage and jumping lessons; I also had a go on a mechanical horse, which was new to me! I thought I knew a lot about horses but I've learned so many new things while making this series.

"I bought a house three years ago, which meant I had to get rid of my horse. But after working on this series I've decided I want to start competing again," adds Nia.

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