The Dales pony is one of the United Kingdom’s native mountain and moorland pony breeds. The breed is known for its strength, hardiness, stamina, courage, intelligence, and good disposition. The history of the modern Dales pony is strongly linked to the history of lead mining in the Dales area of Yorkshire, and it was originally a working pony descended from a number of breeds. A breed registry was created in 1916, and the breed was used extensively by the British Army in both world wars. The Dales pony almost became extinct during the Second World War, but post-war conservation efforts have had some success in rebuilding the population. Today it is used for many different activities, but population numbers are still low and this has led to it being considered “critical” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and “threatened” by The Livestock Conservancy.
The population declined during the war to such an extent that only four new fillies were registered in 1955. However, the post-war future of the Dales pony was preserved by a small group of breeders, who began to search for unregistered ponies of the proper type. The 1960s saw three Fell pony stallions interbred with Dale mares, to help save the breed. By the 1990s, the population had grown enough to allow some ponies to be exported – by 1999, there were 60 registered ponies in North America, and an estimated 800 worldwide.
The Dales pony has moved to “critical” status with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, meaning there is a United Kingdom population of fewer than 300 registered breeding females. The US-based Livestock Conservancy lists the breed as “threatened”, meaning that population numbers worldwide are sub-5,000 and annual US registrations are less than 1,000.
Other names: Dales — Dales Pony
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