Late 19th Century

cart harness The channel for the ridge chain

Heavy work harness

This kind of harness (right) was in use from the beginning of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th for horses who had to work with heavy carts on the land or in towns. The broadly padded saddle, with its channel for a ridge chain carrying the shafts, gave plenty of load-bearing surface to save the horse's back.

pit pony saddle

The museum also has a pit pony saddle of similar type (left), which was found in a peat bog by Mr Douglas Kent. Mr Kent was taking some boys camping near Middleton in Teesdale, and as they dug into the peat to sink their "loo" they came upon a perfectly preserved saddle only a few inches below the surface - only the horsehair had gone. A brass disc with the maker's name responded to cleaning: he was J W Walton of Middleton.

snigging timber

These saddles are made to carry the weight of solid cart shafts. Compare these heavy saddles with the plain backband used with the snigging horse (right). He wears the same simple harness as a plough horse. Neither of those jobs requires the horse to bear any weight on his back.

Agricultural horses, cobs, Hackneys, Galloways and "fell ponies"

Local shows - mostly held in September after the hay crop had been cleared from the fields - divided classes for horses and ponies into various types: Agricultural horses (ie, Clydesdales and their crosses and others suitable to pull farm equipment); cobs; Hackneys; and ponies. These "ponies" were not defined as a breed but usually the classes specified height limits such as "under 14 hands" or "under 13 1/2 hands".

The earliest use of the term "fell pony" (without a capital F) that I've found so far is from the Penrith newspaper, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, 6th September, 1885. At Dufton show "the entry of fell ponies was good and the competition keen".