Fell Pony – The History, Characteristics, And More Information 

Fell Pony

The Fell pony is a small horse breed that originates from the fells, or hills, of Northern England. They are known for their hardiness and stamina and are often used for pony trekking and as working ponies on farms. They have a strong, compact build and come in a variety of colours, including black, brown, and grey. They are also known for their friendly and docile temperament. The Fell pony is listed as a “critical” breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Breed History

The Heritage of The Hill Bred Fell Pony

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. The Fell Pony Society makes no claims about any input from imported Roman war stallions being crossed with these ponies.

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.

They are primarily a working breed of a pony with activity, stamina, hardiness, and intelligence that enables them to live and thrive in tough conditions out on the fells in the Lake District.

Use as Packhorses

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 240 mi (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. Read More on

Breed Associations and Registries

United Kingdom

United States

Description of the Fell Pony

HEIGHT: Not exceeding 14 hands (142.2 cms).

COLOUR & MARKINGS: Black, brown, bay and grey. Chestnuts, piebalds and skewbalds will be registered in
section X. A star or white above lower eye level and white below nostrils and any white on the hind leg/hoof is acceptable.
An excess of white markings is discouraged, ie a blaze or stripe, or white below lower eye level and above nostrils and/or any amount of white on a front hoof or leg, but such ponies are eligible for registration in section X.

HEAD: Small, well chiselled in outline, well set on, forehead broad, tapering to the nose.

NOSTRILS: Large and expanding.

EYES: Prominent, bright, mild and intelligent.

EARS: Neatly set, well formed and small.

THROAT & JAW: Fine, showing no signs of throatiness or coarseness.

NECK: Of proportionate length, giving a good length of rein, strong and not too heavy, moderate crest in case of stallion.

SHOULDERS: Most important, well laid back and sloping, not too fine at withers, nor loaded at the points – a good long shoulder blade, muscles well developed.

CARCASE: Good strong back of good outline, muscular loins, deep carcase, thick through heart, round ribbed from shoulders to flank, short and well coupled, hind quarters square and strong with tail well set on.

FEET, LEGS AND JOINTS: Feet of good size, round and well-formed, open at heels with the characteristic blue horn, fair sloping pasterns not too long, forelegs should be straight, well placed not tied at elbows, big well-formed knees, short cannon bone, plenty of good flat bone below the knee (eight inches at least), great muscularity of arm.

HIND LEGS: Good thighs and second thighs, very muscular, hocks well let down and clean cut, plenty of bone below joint, hocks should not be sickle nor cow-hocked.

MANE, TAIL AND FEATHER: Plenty of fine hair at the heels (coarse hair objectionable), all the fine hair except that at the point of the heel may be cast in summer. Mane and tail are left to grow long.

ACTION: Walk, smart and true. Trot well balanced all around, with good knee and hock action, going well from the shoulder and flexing the hocks, not going too wide nor near behind. Should show great pace and endurance, bringing the hind legs well under the body when going.

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS AND BREED TYPE: The Fell Pony should be constitutionally as hard as iron and show good pony characteristics with the unmistakable appearance of hardiness peculiar to mountain ponies, and at the same time, have a lively and alert appearance and great bone.

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Fell Pony For Sale

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A Guide to Training a Fell Pony

Training a Fell Pony is similar to training any other horse, but there are a few specific things to keep in mind when working with this breed.

  1. Start early: Fell Ponies are known for their intelligence and trainability, so it’s best to start working with them as early as possible. This will help them learn quickly and develop good habits.
  2. Use positive reinforcement: Fell Ponies respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, such as clicker training and treats. This will help them stay motivated and engaged in the training process.
  3. Focus on groundwork: Before beginning to ride your pony, it’s important to establish a strong foundation of groundwork. This includes teaching them basic commands such as leading, standing still, and backing up.
  4. Introduce them to different environments: Fell Ponies are hardy and adaptable, so it’s important to expose them to different environments and experiences. This will help them become well-rounded and confident horses.
  5. Be patient: Fell Ponies are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be stubborn at times. It’s important to be patient and persistent when working with them and to never use harsh training methods.
  6. Provide Regular exercise: Fell ponies are athletic, so it’s important to provide them with regular exercise to maintain their fitness and stamina. This can include trail rides, arena work, or even jumping.
  7. Regular grooming and hoof care: Fell Ponies are known for their thick, hairy coats, so regular grooming is important to keep them looking and feeling their best. Hoof care is also important to keep them healthy and sound.
  8. Seek professional help if necessary: If you are new to training horses or are having difficulty training your Fell Pony, seek the help of a professional trainer or instructor. They will be able to help you understand the needs of your pony and give you the tools you need to be successful.

Riding the Fell Pony in England

Riding the Fell Pony in England

Tips for Grooming a Fell Pony

Grooming a Fell Pony is an important part of maintaining its health and appearance. Here are some tips to help you groom your Fell Pony effectively:

  1. Brush regularly: Fell Ponies have thick, hairy coats that require regular brushing to keep them tangle-free and shiny. Use a wide-toothed comb and a slicker brush to remove tangles and dirt, and a soft-bristled brush to finish and bring out the shine.
  2. Trim the mane and tail: Fell Ponies have long, thick manes and tails that can become matted if not trimmed regularly. Use scissors or thinning shears to trim the hair and keep it neat.
  3. Clean the ears: Fell Ponies have long, hairy ears that can trap dirt and debris. Use a damp cloth to clean the inside of the ears and remove any debris.
  4. Bathe your pony: Bathing your Fell Pony will help to remove dirt, sweat, and other debris from the coat. Use a mild shampoo specifically formulated for horses and rinse thoroughly to avoid skin irritation.
  5. Pick out the hooves: Regularly pick out the hooves and remove any dirt or debris that can cause thrush. This will help to keep them healthy and prevent lameness.
  6. Check for lumps or bumps: While grooming, check your pony’s skin for any lumps or bumps, and bring any concerns to the attention of your veterinarian.
  7. Check for parasites: Check your pony’s coat for any signs of parasites such as lice, ticks or mites, and treat them promptly.
  8. Groom in a comfortable environment: Make sure your pony is comfortable, in a safe and well-ventilated area, and not in direct sunlight.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your Fell Pony looking and feeling their best.

Caring for a Fell Pony: A Comprehensive Guide

Fell Ponies are a hardy and versatile breed, native to the Lake District region of England. They are known for their strength, stamina, and sure-footedness in rugged terrain. Here is a comprehensive guide to caring for a Fell Pony:

Feeding: Fell Ponies should be fed a diet high in roughage, such as hay and grass, with a small amount of concentrate feed, such as oats or barley, to provide necessary nutrients. They should also have access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Exercise: Fell Ponies are active and need regular exercise to stay healthy. They can be ridden or driven, and they also enjoy going for long walks or runs in the countryside.

Grooming: Fell Ponies have a thick, double coat that needs to be groomed regularly to keep them looking and feeling their best. They should be brushed daily to remove dirt, tangles, and loose hair.

Hoof care: Fell Ponies have strong hooves that need to be trimmed and maintained regularly by a farrier to keep them in good condition.

Vaccinations and health care: Fell Ponies should be regularly vaccinated against common equine diseases, such as tetanus, and have regular check-ups with a veterinarian to ensure they are healthy.

Shelter and turnout: Fell Ponies need a secure and safe place to live, such as a stable or barn, with access to a fenced pasture for turnout.

Training and behaviour: Fell Ponies are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be strong-willed. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, and early training and socialization can help prevent behaviour problems.

Overall, caring for a Fell Pony requires time, effort and patience, but with proper care and attention, these hardy and versatile horses can be a joy to own and ride.

Fell Pony FAQs

Can you ride a Fell Pony?

ride a Fell Pony

Yes, it is possible to ride a Fell Pony, as they are a breed of pony that is known for their strength and endurance. They are often used for riding, as well as for driving and working on farms.
However, it is important to note that all horses, including Fell Ponies, have unique personalities and abilities, and it is important to match the pony with the rider’s skill level and experience.
Additionally, proper training and care should be given to any pony before it is ridden.

How long do Fell Ponies live?

Fell Ponies have an average lifespan of around 20-25 years. With proper care, nutrition and veterinary attention they can live beyond 25 years. It’s important to note that genetics, living conditions and overall management play a significant role in the life expectancy of any animal.

Are Fell Ponies good for kids?

Fell Ponies can make good mounts for children, as they are known for their calm and friendly dispositions. They are also known for their intelligence, which can make them easy to train and work with.
However, as with any horse, it is important to match the pony with the child’s skill level and experience. It is also important to ensure that the pony receives proper care, nutrition, and veterinary attention and that the child is supervised while riding. It’s important to note that even if a pony breed is known to have a good temperament, every horse is unique and their suitability for children needs to be evaluated individually.

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