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One of a Rare Breed: The Dales Pony

Updated on March 18, 2015

One of a Rare Breed: Shakespeare

At 15. 2 hh, Shakespeare is bigger than the typical Dales Pony.
At 15. 2 hh, Shakespeare is bigger than the typical Dales Pony. | Source

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:

  • Dartmoor
  • Dales
  • New Forest
  • Fell
  • Exmoor

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

Eastern Pennine Range, England:
Pennines, Cumbria CA10, UK

get directions

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,"

Share Your Thoughts on This Rare Breed Pony

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    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      7 years ago from USA

      Hi Tony and thank you for your feedback! You're right, there's no way a motorized vehicle would be able to find its way back home. I'll bet those horses gave you many years of faithful service and love. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 

      7 years ago from Yorkshire


      when i was young we had two of these Dales, Clydsdale crosses as working animals. We had a greengrocers and they pulled our wagon. They were beautiful, gentle and very intelligent.

      nice hub thanks for sharing and the stirring of old memories.



      PS my grandad often fell asleep on his way home, but the horses new where their feed would be and always brought him back safely, you can't do that in a modern vehicle.

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your feedback, Beebuzby! I'll have to check out the Fjord ponies to find out more about them. I'm really glad you enjoyed this hub on rare horse breeds, and I especially appreciate your taking the time to let me know.

    • Beebuzby profile image


      8 years ago from Delaware

      There is an Exmoor pony at our lesson barn. This was a great article on some really interesting breeds. I used to ride a Fjord pony that I found to be a great mount.

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for reading and commenting on this hub about Dales ponies, MM! I've always wanted a horse but have not yet realized this dream. However, the Dales or a Dartmoor pony would be my choice when/if the time comes:)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello, I love horses and the Dale pony is one of my favourite breeds.

      This is a lovely, interesting hub, thank you for sharing and voted up.

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Deborah, for the votes of confidence! Yes, I love all animals but I've always had a special place in my heart for these magnificent horses. Our family has spent many pleasant hours wandering around Chincoteague Island hoping to spot some of the wild's a wonderful way to learn more about them.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh I love horses. I wish I lived where I could have them.. they are beautiful. I can tell you really love them.. Great article I voted up and awesome.

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Thank you for the votes,anndavis25! While I'm an avid animal lover, there is something about the majestic appearance and power of horses that is absolutely fascinating. Whether it is a draft horse breed like a Clydesdale or the tiniest miniature pony, they are beautiful creatures.

    • anndavis25 profile image


      8 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Great animal. Strength and beauty. Wish I lived close enough to visit them everyday.

      Informative hub....Useful,interesting, beautiful (vote)

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      8 years ago from USA

      Hi mljdgulley354 - thanks for sharing your thoughts:) These are beautiful animals, are they not? We have the acreage but no barn, and my hubby isn't interested in any more pets or projects right now, so I'm having to live out my dreams through writing, lol!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image


      8 years ago

      Donna I wouldn't have anyplace to stable a horse but they look beautiful. Very informative piece and the pictures.


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