Comments by early/mid 20th Century writers

I have known some capital ponies, and had some too, that were from 14 hands 2 inches to 14 hands 3 inches and that never seemed to know the meaning of being tired. It is difficult to say how these ponies are bred. Occasionally one may find one whose sire is a Thoroughbred and whose dam is a Fell or Mountain pony. They are generally as hard as oak but they are not easily come across ... [the buyer should] believe just as much, or as little of the pedigree as he thinks wise. Even a heavy man can be well carried by some of these stout half-bred hill ponies and I have known many that were well master of fourteen or fifteen stone.

Rather smaller than these ponies are the Highland ponies ... they will travel thirty or forty miles in a day and they can carry a man of medium weight well enough, but I should think 13st to 13st 7lb would be a limit for them. The Fell ponies of Cumberland and Westmorland, and the Dales ponies of the west side of the county of Durham are also excellent ride and drive ponies ... but they are comparatively scarce now-a-days, more's the pity.

William Scarth Dixon, 1912 (London, Methuen): The Complete Horseman, 3rd Ed


It is very noticeable that the Fell ponies of today, at any rate the stallions, are a very definite type. They are inclined to be Roman-nosed, and have rather a long head. To me they suggest little Eastern blood, but descent from some northern animal ...


The skulls of horses found at Newstead (a Roman frontier station north of the [Hadrian's] Wall, near Melrose, show several distinct types then in use. Some of the foreign auxiliaries rode a 14-hand pony whose bones suggest quite high-caste Arabians, but there were others -- long, low ponies of 12-13 hands with big bone and broad skulls (Forest type) and a smaller, clean-limbed lighter pony (Celtic type). One supposes these ponies were indigenous to Britain. So perhaps our Fell pony has very ancient lineage indeed and was the actual animal used for pack purposes by the garrison of the Wall.

Lionel Edwards, 1953 (London: Country Life): Thy Servant The Horse