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History of fell ponies

Expedition Ponies

Brief notes on the historical uses of Fell ponies
(For comprehensive information see ‘Fell Pony Report’ pages 46-47)

  • Descended from British pony 1500 BC?
  • Derives from pony in northern England 1 Century AD.
  • Possiblyrelated to ponies that Helped build Hadrian’s Wall and / or Roman Fresian horses (research currently being undertaken)
  • During Roman occupation breed may have evolved due to interbreeding with Roman stock from Iberian Peninsula.
  • Vikings used ponies for sledges, packing, ploughing, riding.
  • Carried foods, clothes, raw wool and metals from 11 /12 centuries.
  • Shepherding and hunting pony.
  • From 13th century used to export and import goods (pack pony trains).
  • The Galloway pony, from south-west Scotland, was the Scottish counterpart of the Fell pony (pre 1700 AD) and which became extinct in the middle of the 19 century
  • Used in trotting races within Cumberland.
  • Used in coal mines well into 20 century.
  • With arrival of trains and canals, used as postal pack ponies in rural Britain.
  • Fell ponies were first registered in 1898 and the Fell Pony Society was formed in 1922.
  • Used in agriculture throughout 19 and early 20 centuries.
  • From1950’s used as riding, trekking, driving and jumping pony.
  • Today carry out light farming and shepherding work.
  • Cumbria’s and Northumberland’s only native breed pony.
  • Imporant cultural heritage and part of historic environment.

Today, needed for conservation grazing because of unique genetic and grazing characteristics.

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