The Fell Pony Museum
The Fell Pony Museum
Fell Characteristics :: Temperament and Maturity :: Fell Breeders :: Type & Conformation 1900 - 2000 :: Stud Cards :: Action: stills and video
stud cards of 1900-1925

Stud Cards

Stud cards were "local advertising" for a travelling stallion.

On this page:
The Museum's Stud Cards
of Travelling Stallions
List of the Stallions
on these cards
Some Interesting Points

Advertising the Stallion

John Gate recalls:

When we were boys we used to kind'a collect them, y'know, when they come round wi't stallions, they used to give you a card. Like you used to collect cigarette cards, we used to collect stud cards.

Mare owner paying the stallion's fee This posed photo from around 1885 shows the farmer paying the stallion man's fee. The horse is a Clydesdale type, possibly a half-bred.
Becky Sim writes: The man at the horse's shoulder is Christopher Gloag, my Gt Gt Gt Gt Uncle (I think). The lady holding the tray with refreshments on is my Gt Gt Gt Gt Grandma or Aunt (Mattie). The man holding the horse is of course his travelling man. Not sure who the other two people are though. The photo was taken at the Appletree, in Cockermouth. I think this is now the 'Outback bar' and Arena Nightclub....They are in the court yard at the back.
Photo courtesy of Mrs Hilary Sim, Cumbria.


These cards were found on a beam in the stable of Mr J Graham of Caldbeck and donated to the Museum. CLICK ANY PICTURE TO SEE FULL TEXT OF CARD


Stud card for General Pride showing service costs and pedigree details


stud card for Mountain Jester showing service costs and pedigree details


Stud card for Mountain Ranger showing travelling route

The Cards in the Case

The cards are for stallions who travelled between 1900 and 1934 or '35. The stallions and their owners are as follows:

Stallion Name

Owner and address

Black Gordon foaled 1923

John Bellas, Moor Farm, Keswick

Blencathra f 1918

John Relph, Turn Bank, Newby

Blooming Heather II f 1902

J H Bennett, Studfold, Ravenstonedale

Dalesman f 1902

John Relph, Turn Bank, Shap

General Pride f 1906

Thomas Ireland, Skelton Wood End

Glengarry f 1911

John Relph, Turn Bank, Maulds Meaburn

Good Hope f 1919

J Hind and Son, Snow Hill, Caldbeck

Heltondale Victor f 1915

John Metcalfe, Dale Foot, Bampton

Highland Fashion f 1908

J & R Bellas, Moor Farm, Keswick

Lingcropper Again f 1900

W Relph, Threlkeld (1913 season)

Linnel Gallant Boy f 1930

R B Charlton (a late card - 1933 or 34?)

Moor Bradley f 1925

John Bellas, Moor Farm, Keswick

Mountain Hero 2nd , f 1897

Thomas Ireland, Skelton Wood End (1900 season)

Mountain Jester f 1922

William Winder, The Green, Caldbeck (groom, Joe Baxter)

Mountain King (no. 568?)

J Bellas, Southerfell, Threlkeld

Mountain Ranger f 1906

Joe Baxter, Guardhouse, Threlkeld

Wallthwaite Ranger f 1918

T H Relph, Drybarrow, Bampton

Weardale Hero f 1902

Thomas Ireland, Skelton Wood End.

Some stud cards are said to have shown an extended pedigree for the stallion - Htd Victor's does (see below - though pedigrees on older cards are not necessarily true; for the sake of advertising value, they could easily include stallions that had been fashionable a generation or two earlier, rather than those that really were in the pony's background!

Stud card for Glengarry 640

Stud card front for stallion Glengarry Stud card page 1 for stallion Glengarry Stud card page 2 for stallion Glengarry Stud card rear cover for stallion Glengarry Card loaned for scanning by Mrs Beatrice Bainbridge, Scout Green, Shap, Cumbria, in 2021.


Prize winning stallion in show gearHeltondale Victor, around 1920: wearing in-hand show tack, with his mane braided, and complete with prize "ticket" following one of the Stallion Shows. He was bred by John Jackson, Annie Garth, Martindale, and owned by John Metcalfe, Dale Foot, Bampton. Victor was unusual in having his own poem printed on his card:

Here comes Heltondale Victor,
We know him by his walk.
This is the horse that goes so well
And makes the people talk.
Look at his head, his neck, his eyes,
Mark well his shape and size;
Superior action he displays,
Amazing strength likewise.

The photograph appears to have been taken on Carleton Road, Penrith, not far from the Foundry Field where the Stallion Show used to be held in the 1920s.

"When the Metcalfes left Dalefoot they sold the herd to Mr Noble as Grandad wanted the horses to stay hefted on Heltondale fell rather than bringing them over to Littlewater and Bampton Common." (Sharron Gibson Metcalfe)

Victor was the sire of Bob Silvertail 1867 (f.1923) who in turn sired the influential Storm Boy 2288 (f.1933).

Below, Victor's card in 1924: donated by Sharron Gibson Metcalfe in 2021. Interestingly, the extended pedigree shows the dam line, not the sire line. Sire Weardale Hero 607, Dam Rose by Mountain Boy, 2nd Dam Bess by Blooming Heather, 3rd Dam Brown Bess by Mountain Hero.


Mountain Hero II

Mountain Hero II 250 was advertised in 1900 as "a rich bay Highland pony", 13.2 hh at 3 years old, with "spectacular action". Bred by James Spencer of Murrah Hall, Greystoke, and registered by Stanley H le Fleming, Rydal Hall, Ambleside.

"Will Serve Mares at 15s each, and heath-going Ponies at 12s 6d each, with 2s 6d Groom Fee in each case. The Groom Fee to be paid at time of service, and all other demands at the end of the season."

Bay Fell pony stallion, Mountain Hero II, from 1910 British Agricultural Encyclopaedia.Left, Mountain Hero II as shown in the 1910 British Agricultural Encyclopaedia (his handler here looks like Mr JW Dalton of Snowhope, Co Durham; he was the owner of Heather Boy).

The stud card shows the sire line, as:
by Young Mountain Hero (Owned by J Bell of Caldbeck)
by Old Mountain Hero
by Rob Roy
by Highland Laddie (see below)
by Ling Cropper

In the Stud Book Hero's dam was noted as Black Bess by FitzGeorge; she was a registered Fell, and Mountain Hero 2nd was himself registered as Fell number 250 in the Polo Pony Stud Book Vol VII.

"It can be seen from the breeding of Mountain Hero 2nd that he is bred from two of the best breeds of ponies that England can produce. Being bred and brought up on fell land, he cannot fail but produce a healthy stock."

Sir Walter Gilbey remarks that in the 1880s the Rev Lowther of Boltongate "made an attempt on a modest scale to improve the ponies of the Caldbeck Fells by selecting sires and dams from among the best of them" and his best sire was "a 13 hands pony named Mountain Hero". It may be guessed that he, "Old" Mountain Hero, could have been the grand-sire of Mountain Hero II.

"Highland" or "Fell"?

A stallion called "Highland Laddie" also occurs in the pedigree of Highland ponies in the Polo Pony Stud Book of 1899. A pony of the same name was mentioned in the extended pedigree of The Mikado (200) as bred by J Wearmouth of Swindale Head, and owned by Thomas Gibson of Friars House (High Force, Teesdale); that "Highland Laddie" is said to have bred until he was 26 years of age.

It is impossible to be certain whether Mountain Hero 2nd was a "Highland" in the 20th C sense of "a Scottish pony", or a pony bred on "high land" implying the "fell", or just a good hardy pony going under a fashionable description. It must be remembered that he was registered at a time before the two societies had begun to separate the Highland and Fell "breeds"; in fact, in 1900 the societies themselves did not yet exist, being then under the umbrella of the Riding and Polo Pony Society.

Note: The generations between Highland Laddie and Lingcropper must have been telescoped in Mountain Hero's background if they are the same pony in both pedigrees, but the names of popular stallions tended to be repeated, so this can't be taken for granted.

The Mikado's pedigree runs:

by Young Perfect x Dolly Varden

Young Perfect's sire line:

Black Jock | Bewcastle Jock | Ayrshire Champion (breed unknown; he could have been Highland, Galloway, or most likely a Clydesdale type)

Dolly Varden's sire line:

Highland Laddie | Merry John | Merry Driver who traced through the dam's line to Old Lingcropper and through him to two Shales stallions (Norfolk horses of Hackney stamp) and back to Flying Childers (the first English thoroughbred to gain fame as a racehorse: a bay horse, foaled 1714, by the Darley Arabian x Betty Leedes by Careless).

Dolly Varden was a noted trotter and her pedigree was said to go back to a mare by an "Old Lingcropper" and another by "Lingcropper" six generations earlier - possibly in this case the original Lingcropper.

The only reason to doubt this pedigree is that it was produced to support the registration of The Mikado who is described as "Black-brown with tan and white hind heels". However, he was skewbald, and his registration had been accepted while the committee were a little the worse for alcohol.There were a few skew- or pie-bald ponies in the early stud books: eg, Sporting Times 916, f.1915; Sporting Times II, 1328, f.1922; and 3 Park End mares by Sporting Times 916 who were foaled in 1922 and 1926.


top Fertility varied a lot among the stallions, despite their long weeks of travelling which kept them fit. In 1913 the percentage of live foals to the number of mares served by Premium stallions was recorded by the Fell Pony Committee:

Live foals
Slipped foals
Dead mare
% fertility
Highland Fashion
Mountain Ranger
Blooming Heather II

The Committee reported that the "percentage of living foals to mares served must be considered fair" in comparison to other breeds of horses at that time. Horses and ponies have surprisingly low foaling percentages per number of mares served, but in addition, the travelling system of weekly visits often meant that a horse was not available to the mare at the most fertile point in her oestrus. The overall averages for the years 1913-1918 varied from 43% to 59%. The Committee agreed with the Board of Agriculture's proposal in 1919 to refuse premiums to any stallion that did not have a foaling percentage over 40%; and when in 1921 a letter was received from the Ministry of Agriculture "regarding the foaling returns of 'Tuers Spring' ... it was recommended that the Ministry be advised not to award another Premium to this Stallion, he only having returned 3 (three) living foals from 36 mares & 2 other mares dead in foal."

Weardale Hero

For one year in the early 1920s the New Forest pony breeders used the Fell stallion Weardale Hero. However, one well known Judge wondered if any of the progeny of the two "imported" stallions would ever, in fact, run on the forest. Opinion was that those ponies with the most actual Forest blood did better in Hampshire than the progeny of the imported ponies. In the late 1990s the New Forest Commoners took a vote on whether one of David Trotter's ponies, Tebay Blease (foaled 1990), who had been sold south, should be allowed to run on the Forest as a stallion to "beef up" the NF type. This time the idea was not accepted, and so the pony was gelded before the new owner was allowed to turn him out.

Lingcropper: the first "named" pony

This famous pony was found saddled and bridled on Stainmore in the 1740s, cropping the "ling" heather, but with no trace of a rider. He was sufficiently striking to be celebrated in ballads and stories of the time. He may have been a Galloway , whose Scottish rider had been killed in a border raid.

Royal Star

The Museum's stud card for Royal Star is a photocopy of the original and is for the season 1910. Royal Star was a Hackney over 16 hands high owned by Thomas Winder, The Grapes Hotel, Caldbeck. His groom's fee was 2s 6d, the same as for the Fell ponies, but the service fee was higher, at £1 15s. Royal Star's dam was said to trace back to a horse called Eclipse. (This may have been the great 18th-century racehorse and sire, who began racing at age five and was undefeated in 18 starts: "Eclipse first, the rest nowhere." Eclipse sired the winners of 344 races, including three Epsom Derbies. However, it's not certain that this pedigree goes back as far as that in years.)

Royal Star was by Young Pluto, by Pluto, by Bay President; and his dam was by Abel, by Spencer, by Cotherstone. Mr Winder is said to have travelled this big fast high-stepping horse by driving him in a sulky, instead of walking beside him as many of the Fell pony stallion men did.

Mr J Bussey's Fell stallion Mountain Ranger Mountain Ranger on his rounds in a "sulky"; he was a Premium Fell Pony stallion in 1916.
Photo from the Fell Pony Committee 1916, courtesy of Sharron Metcalfe.

Last updated 9 August, 2021 .
Copyright © since 2000 The Fell Pony and Countryside Museums.