I’ve just finished reading Mountain & Moorland Ponies of Great Britain, by M.G.S. Best and published by the National Pony Society (NPS) circa 1945. The introduction is written by Roy B. Charlton, and the cover features a photograph of HRH Princess Margaret, patron of NPS. My particular copy of the book appears to have once been owned by Princess Margaret, at least according to a label inside the front cover that reads “From the apartment of the HRH Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, 1930-2002.”
Fell Ponies are described in the book as “being in great demand, for a sounder, more good-tempered and hard-working animal it would be hard to find.” (1) There are more pictures of Fells in the book than of other breeds, perhaps because of Mr. Charlton’s involvement. His introduction describes the creation of the National Pony Society as having the intent of preserving the native breeds for their contribution to the breeding of polo ponies. Charlton then goes on to encourage readers to breed ponies: “The War years have depleted our stocks of native pony to such an alarming degree that it will take all the hard work we can possibly put into it to save from extinction certain of the Mountain & Moorland pony breeds.” (2)
Following the introduction is an interesting essay “Why I Would Choose a Pure-bred Native Pony.” The author of this essay, writing under a pseudonym, then lists the reasons after having experienced a native compared to his other horses. The reasons include: extremely healthy, able to do a lot of work, sound, able to jump, clever, full of pluck, and better quality than any horse but the Thoroughbred. (3)
Fells and Dales ponies share a chapter, but again Fells dominate. The entire book is a delight because of its casual descriptions of the breeds from first-hand observation by the author.
(1) Best, M.G.S. Mountain & Moorland Ponies of Great Britain. London: The National Pony Society, circa 1945, p. 21.
(2) Best, p. 4.
(3) “Golden Gorse” in Best, p. 8.
© Jenifer Morrissey 2011