The Dales Pony is a native of the upper dales (valleys) of the eastern Pennine mountain range in northern England. Their history is strongly linked to the lead mining industry in the area dating back to Roman times and until the mid-19th century. Heavy loads of iron ore, fuel, and lead weighing up to 240 lbs were carried on hard-working pack ponies who were descended from a number of breeds, including the Scottish Galloway and native Pennine pony. Later on, Norfolk Cob bloodlines were added, along with Clydesdale, Norfolk Trotter, and Yorkshire Roadster. In the 19th century, Welsh Cob blood was added to increase the size of the Dales ponies. The Dales pony stud book was opened in 1916.
WWII decimated the breed, which were used by the British Army as pack and artillery ponies. Those left behind across Europe after the war were slaughtered for food. The population was critically low by 1955; however, a small group of breeders began searching for suitable unregistered ponies and helped save the breed. By the 1990s, there were a sufficient number of Dales Ponies that some were exported to Canada and the U.S. Small herds still roam free in the Pennines.
The Dales Pony typically stands 14-14.2 hh. They have a neat and ponylike head, alert and bright eyes, small ears that are slightly concave, long forelocks that fall down the centre of their face, long, thick manes, and a fairly long and well-developed neck. They have short bodies, sloping shoulders, strong legs, well-developed hindquarters, feathering around their fetlocks, and strong feet. Their gaits are high, straight and true, with the knees and hocks well-elevated.
Dales Ponies possess true pony character: alert, courageous, intelligent, willing, and kind. Most commonly black, other colours such as bay, grey, brown, and roan can be found. White markings permitted are limited to either a snip or star on the face, or a little on the fetlocks on the hind legs.
Modern Dales Ponies have successfully adapted to new duties, including driving competitions, trekking, endurance, hunter/jumper, dressage, and eventing. They make first-class riding and driving ponies and trustworthy family mounts.
For more information, visit:
Dales Pony Society