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Fell Pony

Risk Level: at risk
Local Risk Level: vulnerable
Listed by DAD-IS, RBST

The Fell Pony is a versatile, working breed of mountain and moorland pony originating in the north of England in Cumberland and Westmorland (now Cumbria) and Northumberland. It was originally bred on the fell farms of northwest England, and is used as a riding and driving pony. The breed is closely related to its geographic neighbour, the Dales Pony, but is a little smaller and more pony-like in build. The Fell Pony is noted for hardiness, agility, strength, and sure-footedness.

The Fell Pony shares its origins with the now-extinct Galloway Pony, which was also the root of the Dales Pony. It is believed to have originated on the border between England and Scotland, quite probably antedating Roman times. 

In the early stud books, 50% of ponies were brown in colour, though over the last few decades, black has become predominant, followed by brown, bay, and grey.

The Fell Pony was originally used as a packhorse, carrying slate and lead, copper, and iron ores. They were also used for light agriculture and the transportation of bulky farm goods such as wool. With their sturdy bodies, strong legs, and equable disposition, and being good, fast walkers, they would travel up to 390 km a week. They were favoured by the Vikings as packhorses, as well as for ploughing, riding, and pulling sledges. Their use as pack ponies continued into the 20th century, when they were also used in pack-pony trains and by postal services. Some Fells were famed in the north as fast trotters. Tales are told of distances covered at great speeds by these ponies.

A Fell Pony can be used as an all-round family pony. It is capable of carrying both children or adults, and versatile enough to fulfill a variety of jobs otherwise carried out by two or three more specialised animals. A few Fell Ponies are still used in Scotland carrying the stags and grouse panniers down from the moors.

Other names: Fell — Fell Pony

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Fell Pony

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Where to find Fell Pony

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United Kingdom

  • Drybarrow Stud
  • Bybeck Stud
  • Dalefoot
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Photography of Forgotten Horses

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