Thursday, 7 February 2013

Grey Fell ponies

I have now learnt something very interesting about Fell ponies - I had always thought Fell ponies only came in black, but while up on the Fells I noticed quite a few of the ponies were grey - there were a few that were very dark steel grey and a few that were light grey.

Dark grey Fell pony

I asked the owners of the ponies if they were all Fells and they told me that they were, and that Fell ponies come in brown, black, bay and grey.  Black is the predominant colour, although dark brown used to be the predominant colour many years ago.  They also mentioned that the grey used to be quite rare, but they are now becoming more common.  They own a grey stallion.

Light grey Fell mare

It was interesting to hear about their herd and how they manage the ponies that live on the Fells.  Carole told me

"We have approx. 16 breeding mares on the fell together with young females who will in time be bred from as the older mares cease to breed.  There  are also one or two geldings which we offer for sale. The stallions (2) are  kept down at the farm as there are bridle paths across the common and it would not be safe for riders to encounter stallions and also we want to be sure  which mares are mated with which stallions.  The herd stays on the fell for most of the year.  The mares are brought down to foal in May / June and to be covered again by the stallion, after which they are returned to the fell until late October, when they are brought down in order for the foals to be weaned.  The mares are returned to the fell and the filly foals are wintered inside for the first winter.  Colt foals  (apart from any being kept as future stallions) are sold at the Fell Pony sale at the end of October at Penrith."

Grey Fell pony

Some of you readers might not have read my older posts, where I mentioned that many of the British native breeds of pony are on the 'Rare breeds survival trust' watch list.  This is a list of the breeds of British ponies that are at various stages of being endangered.  It goes from 'critical' to 'at risk'.  The fell pony is on the watch list as 'at risk', which isn't as bad as some of the British breeds, but is still not very many - it means there are only 900-1500 breeding mares in the world.  This isn't really a huge amount, so its good to see that there are several studs like Lunesdale  still breeding and promoting this lovely breed, as well as a breed society

The Fell pony society

Hopefully one day these beautiful ponies will be off of the list all together.

The RBST equine watchlist

Beautiful grey Fell pony

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