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Pony Tales

Galloways 30 November 2006

In the advert for the 3rd meeting of York races on the Knavesmire in 1733 it shows Monday to Thursday as heats for galloping horses from between 100gns and £30 prizes, with a list of entries, and on the Friday "will be staged a £20 plate to be run for by Galloways, entries taken on the day before the race."

More about Sarmatians: 30/11/03

I too was much interested by the tradition of Sarmatian horses and ponies in the fells. Sarmatians were also intimately associated with cattle and truly vast wagon trains as per Wild West films of our own time.

The Sarmatian deployment to Ribchester must most surely have been one that involved cattle and wagon trains on a large scale. Ergo: Fells cattle types probably also owe some origin to Sarmatian types. A favourite candidate would be the Podolian Grey Steppe type, the descendants of which are found in many areas settled by Sarmatians in Italy, Croacja and23 May, 2021are two of the most famous Sarmatian descendants. Rodi Wout.

Horse breeding in Slaidburn - from Roman times to the Dissolution: 30/7/02

The piece about Roman Sarmatian cavalry based at Ribchester interested me as my mother Dr. M.C. Higham (who is a historical geographer and place-name specialist) believes that on retirement the Sarmatians may have received land in Bowland, as a tradition of horse-breeding survived in the area through to the monastic period. Kirkstall Abbey had horse breeding "ranches" in the Slaidburn area up until the dissolution. A local farmer has deeds for his farm that actually mention that horses were kept rather than sheep or cattle as they were able to escape the predations of wolves. John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399) was also breeding horses in the Forest of Bowland in the 1300's. Place names such as "Stott Heys" and "Stod or Stott Close" (stud enclosure) seem to show the area was involved in horse breeding. We also have a road leading to the village called "the Skaithe" which may signify a race-track during the viking period, although I personally visualise it more as a place to show off horses much as at the horse fair at Appleby. D Higham (

1945, Pony numbers: 9/7/02

During the Second World War, 1939 -1945, many horses and ponies went to slaughter because of social dislocation, financial upheaval, industrialisation and the progression of the internal combustion engine. In short, the work which horses and ponies had done for years was now being done by machines and food for man and beast was in short supply......... there was rationing. Petrol rationing for private use gave Fell Ponies a reprieve....... people went back to horse transport because they could not buy petrol for private use. 1945 Harry Wales, my grandfather, and Frank Wales, my father, went to a Fell Pony meeting which was held at The Guards, the home of Mr Richard Little. Other members present were Mr Charlton, Mrs Sylvia Marshall (nee Hazell; later McCosh....... she married Bryce McCosh, Ailie Newall's brother,) Mr Sam Wood from Crosby Lodge, Eddie Wilson (only Eddie and my father Frank are still alive) and the three travelling stallion men..... Joe Baxter, Joe Relph (Chairman) and Mr Bellas from Keswick (there was a father and two sons but I can't remember their Christian names.....) [WebMin: Father was John Bellas. Sons?? ]

At this meeting it was estimated that there were less than 50 registered Fell Ponies left; of which between 36-40 were fillies/mares and the rest were either geldings or colts / stallions. No estimate could or can be given for the number of ponies which could have been registered but which for some / any reason had not been.

At this meeting members were encouraged to:- 1) register eligible ponies....... hence we see a number of ponies registered retrospectively. 2) Encourage new members......... stud book shows new names and prefixes. 3) The idea of a stallion enclosure was hatched.

1946. Fell Pony meeting. Stallion Enclosure scheme established; enclosure at Berrier. This was open to registered and unregistered mares. Such was the demand, a second enclosure at Arnside was established. Date ???? Arnside was I think created because of demand and nearer location for some people.

1949. Enclosure scheme limited to registered mares. Can't remember date. Berrier closed, land no longer available, and the enclosure moved to Wet Sleddale..... Henry Harrison's before the dam was built....... We tend to forget how pony transport was, before the advent of the 4X4. I remember taking ponies to Berrier and Wet Sleddale........ JUST

1945........ estimate 30,000+ horses and ponies went for slaughter; this rose to 1948..........estimate 62,000+.horses and ponies went for slaughter. Many / most went into the human food chain, in cans. Horses and ponies were no longer a neccesity but a luxury. Motorised transport was here to stay. Horses/ ponies have survived because of their ability to change / '‘move with the times.'’

"The Age of the Heavy Horses" lasted less than 200 years. It began with the development of a wheel that turned on an axle and the invention, by James Small a Scot, of a light weight plough with a skimming board and ended with the progression of the motor car and tractor. What has become known as "The mass slaughter of the heavies" began in the south of England in 1947 and reached the northern counties in 1952........ by which time most farms had tractors. Sad but true. Christine Morton, Lownthwaite Fell Ponies

Riding on a Deer Saddle: 15/2/2002

Yes I have ridden on a deer saddle, to the utter dismay of the ponyman in charge of the deer pony (a Highland pony) at the time, who saw his charge purely as a load carrier, dumb-workmate and piece-bag pincher, to be the silent receiver of the deepest oaths uttered all the way up the glen to the waiting post.

No it was not at all comfortable, but it was better than walking up 2000ft first thing in the morning with a hangover.

Many hours have I spent rubbing dubbin into deer saddles and their many straps to protect them from the Highland rain.

Gallowa’ ponies: 10/10/2001

When I started working on a farm in West Yorkshire in the 1950s [early] any sturdy, thickset and strong, big pony or small horse, was called a gallowa’. Not Galloway you notice, but the connection is plain. Hundreds of such ponies were used on the milk rounds that many farmers ran in those days, and when the milk was delivered the Gallowa’ was amply strong and game enough to tackle such jobs as light carting, harrowing, scruffling [weeding between rowcrops] and of course as a trap pony. Many farmers of my aquaintance relied on their Gallowa' to get them home, the worse for wear after a day at the mart and a little too much of the hard stuff!


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Last updated 23 May, 2021 .
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