Howgills Hills

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Country United Kingdom, GB
Location Howgills Fells, Cumbria, England
Species Horse
Synonyms Fell pony
Management semi-feral
Morphology In 1922 the Fell Pony Society was set up in its present form, not to improve but to keep pure the old breed of pony in the face of cross breeding to produce farm horses and showy road animals such as the Wilson pony. Bay and brown ponies were very common at that time. It was not until the second half of the 20thcentury that black became the predominant colour, followed by brown, bay, and grey. White markings, in the form of stars and small amounts of white on the hind pasterns, have remained fairly constant over the decades. More than half the breed population has no white markings. Height: 142.2 cm Colour: Black, brown, bay and grey.
History Fell ponies are native to the North of England, and are mostly found in Cumbria, where probably they roamed from pre-historic times. By the Iron Age, equines were in relatively common use in Britain. The Vikings used ponies to plough and pull sledges as well as for riding and pack work. The animals in use were kept handy in the villages, and the breeding stock lived out on the fell. From the 11th and 12th centuries ponies were being used for longer distance pack work carrying loads of fleeces, woollen goods, foodstuff such as cheeses, meat, fish and preserves, and local metal ores. They were used for shepherding and to hunt wolves that might attack the flocks on the sheepwalks. By the 13th century there was a brisk trade in wool to Belgium, and ponies or capuls were used to transport merchandise all around the country. Pack trains were well organised and made regular journeys. For instance, in the winter of 1492-93, 11 Kendal traders made a total of 14 journeys to Southampton with pack horses carrying loads of cloth. From the end of the Middle Ages to the 18th century, pack-horses continued to transport imported goods. Fell Ponies, known locally as ´galloways´, were also used for the Cumberland sport of trotting races. As industry developed, ponies were needed to transport copper, iron and lead ores from mines in the north-west of England to the smelting works. They also carried iron and lead long distances across country to Newcastle, returning with coal. Fell ponies were used by big Northeastern collieries such as Ashington until well into the 20thcentury. They were used underground, where the mine height allowed, and above ground for moving machinery and also hauling dairy produce to town from the colliery farms overlying the pits.When canals and railways became the main means of transport pack-pony trains and pony-based postal services remained a lifeline for remote communities. Pony breeders began to record pedigrees in the late 19th century, and show classes for Fell ponies were held at Hesket New Market in 1894 and at Shap in 1895. The first Fell ponies were registered in the Polo and Riding Pony Stud Book in 1898.
Remarks There are no Fells that are truly wild in the sense of belonging to no-one. Every pony is owned by someone, though they may be running semi wild on hundreds of acres of common land. The local farms that have fell rights give their owners commoners´ rights to turn-out ponies on the fell. However, on some fells the Ministry of Agriculture (now DEFRA) compensated farmers for every pony removed and not replaced on the common land. This was intended to reduce the stocking rates on the fell and to allow natural regeneration of damaged herbage. Foot and Mouth devastated much of Cumbria´s sheep stock in 2001 and the change in the grassland was accelerated. The fell land looked startlingly different in 2002 - not bowling-green lawns, but waving stands of flowering grasses and thistles. Visitors in that year could not believe how lush everything was, and that Fell ponies are adapted to a normally much sparser diet!
Source of information,

Howgill Hills


Howgill Hills Pony

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