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Fell Pony Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Fell Pony Society of North America

Native Country

Other Names

Adult Height
Not exceeding 14h

Adult Weight

General Description

Black, brown, bay and grey. Chesnuts, piebalds and skewbalds are debarred. A star and/or a little white on or below the hind fetlock is acceptable. An excess of white markings is discouraged, but such ponies are eligible for registration.
Head: Small, well chiselled in outline, well set on, forehead broad, tapering to nose.
Nostrils: Large and expanding.
Eyes: Prominent, bright, mild and intelligent.
Ears: Neatly set, well formed and small.
Throat and Jaw: Fine, showing no signs of throatiness nor coarseness.
Neck: Of proportionate length, giving good length of rein, b and not too heavy, moderate crest in case of stallion.
Shouders: 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.
Carcass: Good back of outline, muscular loins, deep carcase, thick through heart, round ribbed from shoulders to flank, short and well coupled, hind quarters square and b 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 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 heels (coarse hair objectionable), all the fine hair except that at point of heel may be cast in summer. Mane and tail are left to grow long.
Action: Walk, smart and true. Trot well balanced all round, 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 Character: 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.


The Fell Pony is a close relative of the Dales Pony and is very similar in looks. However, around 100 years ago Clydesdale blood was introduced to the Dales giving them roughly 4 inches in height and a draftier appearance than the Fells. The original Fell Ponies came from the north of England and are now mainly found on the western side of the Pennines. They derive their name "Fell" from the Norse word for hills. The Fell pony is probably descended from the early Celtic pony and Friesian stock imported from the Netherlands in the time of the Romans. This pony was probably widespread over the north of England and was later called the Galloway. They retain the Galloway's characteristic blue horn and a tough and hardy constitution.

The Fell Pony has been recognizable as a breed since Roman times in England, when they were employed as draft animals in northern England within local industry and the building of Roman walls. Except for the Exmoor, the Fell Pony is considered the purest of all native British ponies. Before the days of mechanization, the Fell Pony was a "jack-of-all-trades,' shepherding on the fells of England's Lake District, working as a light farm animal and pulling the family carriage on various occasions as well as being a great racing-trotter. For centuries the Fell's major role was as a pack or pannier pony carrying goods of all kinds. Their work was both local and long distance, particularly carrying wool from the Lake District fells to the merchants and lead from mines to the coastal smelting works.

The Fell Pony declined alarmingly during the first half of the 20th century, having lost its habitat as a work animal. The Fell Pony Society was founded to promote and conserve the breed. The breed's fortunes improved beginning in the 1950s with the development of riding schools and trekking centers to accomodate the tourist trade. (Trekking is a English term describing the riding of easy moving, comfortable animals).

Today, Fells are popular for both riding and for driving. In fact Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II owns Fell ponies which are driven by her husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, in international competitions.

In 1999, there was an estimated 6,000 Fell Ponies globally, with most of the population found in Britain. The breed is also found in France, Germany, Holland, Australia and North America. The Fell is virtually unknown in the United States, with a population of fewer than 30 ponies in three herds in 1999.


The Fell was selected for a combination of strength, agility and style. The Official Standard of the Fell Pony Society states they should be "constitutionally as hard as iron." Its gaits are smooth and athletic and it is an excellent trotter and jumper. The breed is also known for its good temperament and intelligence.


Fells at the present are being used for pleasure riding and competitive uses, pack-work, trekking and shepherding. The Fell pony can be seen in the horse show world, seen in in hand, under saddle, and working hunter pony classes. They also do well in driving and endurance riding. They are very suitable for riding and driving for persons with disabilities.

A Fell pony can be used as an all-round family pony. It is capable of carrying both children or adults, and versatile enough to fulfill a variety of jobs otherwise carried out by two or three more specialised animals. The rise of carriage driving as a recreational activity has provided the Fell pony a renewed job which it traditionally performed for centuries.


Easy keeper that is very healthy.

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