There is a demand for an all-round family pony capable of carrying all members of the family and versatile enough to fulfill a wide variety of jobs previously done by two or three more specialized animals. In this capacity the Fell Pony is ideal being well up to the weight of a heavy adult, yet quiet enough and not too big for a child. In many respects the present day family Fell Pony is mainly continuing to apply to modern demands, the same adaptability which endeared it to the Lakeland farmers of approximately a hundred years ago.
As a hack and general riding pony, the Fell’s fast walk and easy paces make it a pleasant and comfortable ride, and its sure footedness ensures a safe passage over the roughest country. It is possible to ride a Fell Pony through places where other lighter bred ponies would come to grief and Fells seem to have a sixth sense which alerts them to possible danger. They seem to know which is the soundest track through soft marshy ground or the safest descent of a rocky hillside.
To test these qualities The Fell Pony Society holds an annual performance trial where the course comprises a varied range of difficult terrain including steep and twisting hills, boggy ground, a water crossing and several natural hazards such as fallen logs and the like. Fell Ponies are generally creditable jumpers, particularly across country, being both agile and very clever on their feet, which is a valuable asset when jumping “blind” when out hunting. Although most lack the scope to make top class jumping ponies, their abilities are well up to local shows or Pony Club events where many prove their worth.
The rediscovery of Driving as a recreational sport has given the Fell Pony the means of continuing in a job which it has traditionally done for centuries. They are well suited to this work, having great stamina. The fact that the Fell Ponies breed very true to type makes it very easy to find matched pairs than is the case with many of the other breeds. Their main limitation in competitive work is their lack of speed, but their tireless energy compensates amply and several acquit themselves well in combined driving events. A few Fell Ponies are still used in Scotland carrying the stags and grouse panniers down from the moors. Some of HM The Queen’s ponies are sometimes used for this purpose at Balmoral while others are used for both riding and driving by the Royal Family. Large numbers of Fell Ponies are used in riding and trekking stables throughout the country because of their docile temperaments and useful size. The Riding for the Disabled movement employs a number as mounts for both disabled children and adults.
All these attributes make the Fell Pony an Ideal Family Pony.
Ref: The History of the Fell Pony & The Modern Fell Pony – Fell Pony 2000
*Information above was reprinted with permission from: “The Joy of Horses” online magazine, Field Galleries – the website of Equine Artist Sue Wingate MA RCA, April 1999
The Fell Pony Society has frequently been made aware, by FPS members in England, Europe, and USA, of advertisements containing the term “Mini Friesian” with reference to Fell ponies. It is common for Fell Pony owners to correct the use of this term on a regular basis when exhibiting Fell ponies to the general public, particularly in North America. To make such comparisons deliberately in any advertisement is misleading both about the Fell Pony and about any other breed that is compared to it.
The Fell Pony Society and The Fell Pony Society of North America wish to state that they strongly disapprove of the use of comparisons with other breeds to describe, promote or advertise the Fell. A Fell pony is a Fell pony, a strong, hardy, versatile, purebred English working pony, who should not be described as a mini version of any other breed.
For a longer discussion of the historical arguments about the Friesian comparison, please see the Fell Pony Museum website