The Fell Pony Breeders Association (FPBA) has made a great contribution to the library of Fell Pony information with its new video series. I highly recommend viewing these five video interviews if you are at all interested in the Fell Pony breed or any breed that is environmentally adapted. You can view the videos via the producer’s website, Dreamtime Films.
There were a couple of themes that emerged as I watched the interviews with Thomas Capstick, Bill Potter, Bert Morland, Andy Thorpe, and Christine and Alison Morton:
- All are involved with Fell Ponies for love, not money.
- Decent stallions are hard to find.
- These ponies are tough and able to withstand adverse weather surprisingly well.
I appreciated seeing familiar faces and familiar places on the videos. My favorite of the five interviews was the one with Christine and Alison Morton of the Lownthwaite Fell Pony Stud. They were the only ones representing multi-generational Fell Pony breeders, though producer Tom Lloyd deserves credit for being a multi-generational participant as well.
Christine Morton’s performance poem (though she may not call it that) ‘The Perfect Pony’ was definitely my favorite piece on all the videos. Other highlights for me included:
- Andy Thorpe of the Wellbrow Fell Pony Stud said he wouldn’t have been able to put his herd together had the Heltondale stud not been liquidated. I understand his feeling, as I started my herd when the Midnight Valley Fell Pony stud was dispersing.
- I could also relate to this comment by Alison Morton: ‘I have long days and short nights, and my social life is non-existent…’ Alison closes the Lownthwaite footage with, “There isn’t a manual. You have to learn by experience. Some things go well. Some things don’t. But sometimes you just have to live it, haven’t you?”
- Bill Potter pointed out, “A lot of people have forgot about the little word ‘pony.’ These are ponies, not horses.”
- Bert Morland observed that it takes two years for a lowland bred pony to adapt to life on the fell, if they ever do. He has a 19 year old pony still living out.
- Tom Capstick noted that most farmers are over 50, and he hasn’t been able to put anything into savings for fifteen years. It’s hard to attract the younger generation when conditions are like that.
I am thankful to the Fell Pony Breeders Association for pursuing a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce these interviews. And I am grateful to the breeders who participated for taking time out of their full lives to share a little of their love for the breed with us.
(c) Jenifer Morrissey
This post is also a chapter in the 2013 book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available by clicking here.