Three Fell Pony-related phone calls came in yesterday. They were all in response to the most recent issue of Rural Heritage magazine, which includes an article I wrote called “Draft Breeds in a Non-Draft World.” The article discusses how the work at hand has changed for our draft breeds and that breed type is being impacted.
The first phone call was a sales inquiry, which is of course always welcome :-). And the third was from friend and researcher Eddie McDonough congratulating me on the article and sharing the latest fruits of his research efforts.
The second call, however, was more difficult to categorize. The caller posed at the outset as a possible purchaser, but in the end I think he was just interested in information and wanted to test my knowledge of the breed. It turns out that he lives in Missouri but imported a number of Fell Ponies into his native Ireland forty years ago. He was well acquainted with Jimmy Bell of the Waverhead Stud and says he has a picture of himself with Waverhead Rambler, a well-known and popular Fell stallion at that time and ‘a grand pony’ in my caller’s estimation. Rambler was apparently well-regarded in his time for breeding, as he shows up in 99% of the pedigrees of the 2006 Fell Pony foal crop.
I shared with my caller about my favorite picture of Waverhead Rambler. It is in a book from the 1960s. Rambler is shown as a three-year-old being lunged by Jimmy Bell, though in the picture Rambler is standing still and looking regally off across what looks like a fell-side.
My caller concluded that he was too old and Fell Ponies too expensive for him to buy one now. He did remark that he was afraid he’d be disappointed in the quality of the ponies now, as they would undoubtedly be markedly different from the ones he had so many decades ago. I told him that he would indeed need to look carefully to find what he was looking for it he did decide to look. The breed has changed significantly in the last forty years, according to my many friends in Cumbria who are old enough to make such judgments.
My caller didn’t wish to leave his name, but I do hope he calls back someday. I would be especially interested to hear if he will share that picture of Waverhead Rambler!
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, you’ll surely like the more than ninety chapters that are similar in the 2013 book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding available by clicking here.