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One of a Rare Breed: The Dales Pony
One of a Rare Breed: Shakespeare
Dales Ponies Are One of a Rare Breed
The Dales pony is one of a rare breed of horses that are native to England.
Altogether, there are five British native breeds:
- New Forest
According to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, in 1999 there were approximately 800 Dales ponies worldwide and about 60 located in the United States, which makes them an endangered species.
Is That a Dales or a Fell Pony?
Dales inhabit the eastern part of the Pennine Range in northern England, while Fell ponies inhabit the western side.
At one time the two ponies were believed to be the same breed; however, they are actually cousins that share a genetic heritage. Fells ponies are smaller than Dales.
For our purpose here, we will keep the focus on the Dales Pony.
Where Dales Ponies Live
Native range of the Dales Pony
History of One of a Rare Breed of Ponies
Dales are hardy, sure-footed riding mounts with great stamina. Their moor upbringing gives them a nimbleness of feet that makes them clever jumpers. The early Dales were crossed with Clydesdale blood in an effort the increase the size of the breed, but that effort proved to be a detriment of the breed.
The gene pool diluted to the point that in the 1900s, the breed was considered to be two-thirds Clydesdale. The Dales Pony Improvement Society was formed in 1916 to preserve the purity of the breed.
Because of their incredible strength and endurance, miners used them to haul lead ore from the mines, and farmers favored them as plow animals. This same strength and endurance was almost their undoing as a breed, as they were drafted for use in both World Wars as pack animals, and many of them were killed.
In 1954, the Dales Pony Society reorganized, dropped the word “improvement” from the name, and worked to revive this rare pony breed.
Breed Profile & Fast Facts
Are you surprised or amazed by any of these facts? As one of a rare breed of native ponies, the Dales Pony has a fascinating but diverse backstory:
- Origin: East Pennines, England
- Nickname/alternative names: Mountain and moorland ponies
- Early use: Pack and farm animals
- Present use: Under saddle, in harness, and as jumpers
- Ancestors/Bloodlines: Welsh Pony, Galloway, and Friesian
- Status: Endangered, Category 2
- Lifespan: 25 to 30 years
- Size: 14 to 14.2 hh
- Horse Coat: Black, dark brown, and bay; the majority are black
- Personality: Even-tempered and calm
- Intelligence: High
- National breed association: The Dales Pony Society of America, Inc.
Rare Horse Breed: Dales Pony Stallion Under Harness
Best Features and Characteristics of Dales Ponies
The head is neat with a wide forehead and small ears. The neck is thick, and the mane is long and luxurious.
Their very deep, laid-back shoulders contribute to their free-flowing, active riding action, and their powerful legs have feathers on the fetlocks.
The hooves are hard and blue and considered sound and excellent. The overall appearance is one of compact, muscular strength.
They are one of the best children’s mounts because of their small size and gentle natures.
However, because of their exceptional strength and endurance—Dales can carry approximately 240 pounds—they are also good mounts for adults. Their ride is very comfortable, and they perform as well in harness as under saddle with their famous trot being one of their signature attributes.
Dales are an economical breed as their moor heritage as foraging ponies adapted them to exist on even the poorest of vegetation and minimal water supplies.
Rare Horse Breed Dales Pony In Harness
Own One of a Rare Breed of Horses
If you are looking for a fine riding or driving pony that is also an easy keeper, the Dales pony may be perfect for you. While they are a rare breed of British native ponies and the number of existing ponies is quite small, there are some Dales for sale. A good place to start your search is by consulting the sales list of The Dales Pony Society of America, Inc.
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, "Dales Pony," http://albc-usa.org/cpl/dalespony.html