History Of The Dales Pony

During the late 17th century Scotch Galloway ponies were used for fast pack work in the lead mines of the Cheviot Hills near the Scottish Border. These ponies were bred with native mares on the Dales and Scotch mares also ran with native herds on the Fell and from these mixed herds came the Dales Pony.

The Dales pony was comfortable to ride, strong enough for draught work and was able to thrive on the harsh dales and farmers found them ideal for pulling carts and ploughs, as shepherds ponies and as a packhorse. Later many Dales ponies were also used in the coal and lead mines.

In the late 18th century with improved roads there was a demand for faster ponies for mail and stagecoaches. The Norfolk Cobs were popular and the best of these were introduced by Yorkshire men to improve their Yorkshire Trotters. As stylish trotting horses became popular the men of the Dales used the best of the Norfolk and Yorkshire blood to breed with the Dales pony to produce a Dales pony with an energetic and high action whilst retaining the strength and stamina needed in a pony for farm work. The Dales Pony Improvement Society was formed in 1916 and the Dales Pony Stud book started.

The War Office took over 200 Dales ponies in the 1920s, selecting only those that were between 14 hh and 14.2hh and able to carry 21 stone in weight and Dales ponies served overseas in World War I.

The Dales pony declined and almost became extinct during World War II when the army took Dales ponies for the war and used them for breeding vanners to work in towns and cities. However, a few dedicated breeders re-organised the Dales Pony Improvement Society and became the Dales Pony Society and Dales ponies were located and suitable ponies registered.

Height Of The Dales Pony

The Dales pony stands 14 to 14.2 hh.

Colour Of The Dales Pony

The Dales pony is most usually black but bay, brown and occasionally greys and roans occur. They may have white markings such as a star and/or a snip, and white on the hind fetlocks.

Breed Characteristics Of The Dales Pony

The Dales pony has a pony-like head broad between the eyes with a small nuzzle. It has a short strong neck, long sloping shoulders, broad chest, strong back and hindquarters, strong legs with silky feather on the heels and has a thick mane and tail. Dales ponies are hardy and strong with good stamina and are a fast trotter. Their action is straight, high and energetic.

Temperament Of The Dales Pony

The Dales pony is intelligent, courageous, docile, sensible, kind and hard working.

Uses Of The Dales Pony

Dales ponies are ideal trekking ponies with the stamina for long distance rides. They also make a good general riding pony and are willing and clever jumpers. They are strong enough to carry heavy adults and are also kind enough to carry children, but due to their strength are most suitable for adults.

The energetic, high action trot and calm temperament also make the Dales pony an ideal driving pony for pleasure or driving trials.