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Get to know our Native Pony Breeds England & Wales

Native pony breeds of England and Wales. Credit Paul Buckingham

We’ve already looked at our Native horse and draught breeds as well as our Native Pony Breeds from Scotland and Ireland. Today we’re going to look at our pony breeds from England and Wales.

Fell

Breed status: Vulnerable

english native pony breed, the fell pony. Credit Mick Garratt.
  • Height: Under 14hh
  • Colours: Black, brown, bay, grey.
  • Temperament: Friendly, hardy & agile.

The Fell pony developed in the northern hills of England, adapting to the challenging terrain and climate. They have a long history of serving the local communities. They were essential for agriculture, including working on farms, pulling carts, and transporting goods. Their strength, agility, and hardiness made them well-suited to the rugged landscapes of the northern fells.

As the mining industry took off, these hardy ponies were adopted to work alongside miners. They were used to transport coal and other materials from the mines due to their ability to navigate narrow paths and carry heavy loads. Like many other native pony breeds, the Fell Pony faced challenges with changes in agriculture and transportation during the 20th century. The Fell Pony Society, established in 1916, has played a crucial role in the breed’s preservation and promotion.

Today, Fell Ponies are appreciated for their versatility. They are used for riding, driving, and as companion animals. Their friendly disposition and surefootedness make them suitable for various equestrian activities. They are also seen in shows, events, and conservation grazing projects, where their grazing habits contribute to maintaining natural habitats.

Dales

The tallest of the English Native Ponies

2014 UK Breed Champion Dales Pony Mare. Credit the Dales Pony Society
2014 UK Breed Champion Dales Pony Mare. Credit the Dales Pony Society
  • Height: 14hh – 14.2hh
  • Colours: Black, brown, bay, grey & roan.
  • Temperatment: Strong, brave & active.

The Dales Pony has a long history of being a working horse in the northern dales, believed to have originated in this area. It was used for a variety of tasks, including agricultural work on farms, transportation of goods, and pulling carts. Their strength and endurance were particularly valuable in the hilly and challenging terrain of the Yorkshire Dales.

Similar to other northern pony breeds, such as the Fell pony, Dales Ponies played a role in the mining industry during the 19th and early 20th centuries. They were used to transport coal and other materials from the mines, showcasing their ability to navigate steep and narrow paths.

The Dales Pony Breed Society, established in 1916, played a crucial role in maintaining the breed’s characteristics and promoting its versatility. The breed standard was developed to emphasize traits such as strength, a straight and free action, and a well-formed head. Today, the Dales Pony is appreciated for its versatility. It is used in various equestrian disciplines, including riding, driving, and showing. Its surefootedness and calm temperament make it suitable for riders of different skill levels. The breed also participates in events, shows, and conservation grazing projects.

New Forest

They have been in the New Forest since the last ice age.

New forest pony. Credit: Carron Brown
New forest pony. Credit: Carron Brown
  • Height: Up to 14.2hh
  • Colours: Black, brown, bay, chestnut, grey, roan & single cream colours (palomino, buckskin)
  • Temperament: Kind, strong & intelligent.

The New Forest Pony’s ancestry is believed to be ancient, with roots tracing back to the introduction of ponies to the British Isles by early human settlers. Over centuries, these ponies adapted to the local conditions, and the New Forest region became their home.

The history of the New Forest Pony is closely tied to the Royal Forest Laws, which date back to the time of William the Conqueror in the 11th century. The New Forest was designated as a royal hunting ground, and ponies were maintained to provide a ready supply of hunting horses. These laws dictated that only the King and his Foresters were allowed to keep stallions, ensuring that the ponies remained of a consistent type. Away from hunting, they were used for agricultural work, including pulling carts and plows, as well as for transportation. Their hardiness and adaptability to the New Forest environment made them valuable work ponies.

Today, the New Forest Pony is valued for its versatility. It is used in various equestrian disciplines, including riding, driving, and showing. The breed’s gentle nature and adaptability make it suitable for riders of all ages and abilities. New Forest Ponies are also employed in conservation grazing projects to maintain natural habitats.

Exmoor

Their appearance still resembles their prehistoric ancestors.

Exmoor pony in Sutton Park. Credit: Tim Ellis
Exmoor pony in Sutton Park. Credit: Tim Ellis
  • Height: 11.2hh – 12.3hh
  • Colour: Bay, brown & dun with black points. No white markings.
  • Temperament: Kind & intelligent but stubborn.

The Exmoor pony’s origins can be traced back to ancient times when small, hardy horses were present in the British Isles. These primitive horses adapted to the challenging conditions of the Exmoor region, developing traits that allowed them to thrive in the harsh moorland environment.

Exmoor ponies have been an integral part of life on the moors for centuries. They were used by local communities for a variety of tasks, including agriculture, transportation, and as pack animals. Their surefootedness, strength, and ability to graze on coarse vegetation made them well-suited to the rugged terrain. Efforts were made to preserve the breed, and the Exmoor Pony Society was established in 1921 to oversee the breed’s management.

Today, the Exmoor pony is recognized for its adaptability, hardiness, and versatility. It is used in a variety of equestrian activities, including riding, driving, and showing. Exmoor ponies are also appreciated for their conservation grazing contributions and their role in maintaining the cultural and ecological heritage of the Exmoor region.

Dartmoor

They have lived in Dartmoor since the Middle Ages.

Dartmoor mare and foal. Credit: Mike Knapp.
Dartmoor mare and foal. Credit: Mike Knapp.
  • Height: Up to 12.2hh
  • Colour: Black, brown, bay, grey, chestnut & roan.
  • Temperament: Reliable, gentle & calm.

The Dartmoor pony’s origins can be traced back to ancient times when small, hardy horses roamed freely in the British Isles. These primitive ponies adapted to the challenging conditions of the Dartmoor moorlands, developing traits that allowed them to thrive in the rugged and often inhospitable environment.

They were used for various tasks, including agriculture, transportation, and mining. Their surefootedness and ability to navigate the difficult terrain made them fantastic work ponies for the locals. They have been utilized in conservation grazing projects, playing a role in maintaining the biodiversity of Dartmoor’s unique ecosystems. Their grazing habits help control vegetation, contributing to the preservation of the moorland landscape.

Today, the Dartmoor pony is appreciated for its versatility and gentle temperament. It is used in various equestrian activities, including riding, driving, and showing. Dartmoor ponies continue to be a symbol of the Dartmoor region and contribute to the cultural and ecological heritage of the area.

Welsh

There are 4 different types of Welsh pony.

  • Colour: Any colour except piebald/skewbalds.
  • Temperament: Hardy, spirited & intelligent.

The Welsh Pony has a rich history that spans many centuries in Wales, a country known for its rugged landscapes and love of horses. Their ancestry can be traced back to ancient times when small, hardy horses roamed the hills and valleys of Wales. These native ponies adapted to the challenging Welsh terrain and developed characteristics that made them well-suited to the region. When the Romans invaded Britain, they were impressed by the hardiness and stamina of the native Welsh ponies. The Romans are believed to have introduced their own horses, which likely influenced the Welsh breed to some extent.

Welsh Ponies have been integral to the daily life of the Welsh people. They were used for various agricultural tasks, transportation, and as pack animals. Their strength, endurance, and surefootedness were particularly valuable in the hilly and often difficult terrain of Wales. Their significance was further elevated during the medieval period when they became associated with Welsh royalty. Historical records indicate that Welsh ponies were highly prized and often presented as gifts to other European monarchs.

Over the centuries, efforts were made to refine and standardize the Welsh Pony breed. In the 20th century, various sections were established based on height and type, leading to the development of Welsh Pony Sections A, B, C, and D. Each section has specific characteristics, but all share the distinctive traits of the Welsh breed.

Today, the Welsh Pony is celebrated for its versatility and friendly nature. It is used in various equestrian disciplines, including riding, driving, and showing. The breed is known for its beautiful movement, intelligence, and adaptability, making it a popular choice for riders of all ages and abilities.

Section A

  • Height: Up to 12hh
  • Lighter framed.
Welsh section A
Section A

Section B

  • Height: Up to 13.2hh
  • Lighter framed.

Section C

  • Height: Up to 13.2hh
  • Heavier in frame.

Section D/Cob

  • Height: Over 13.2hh
  • Heavier in frame.
Welsh Cob
Welsh Section D/Cob

Last Updated on 24/11/2023

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