I am grateful to my friend Judith Bean-Calhoun for putting Fell Ponies in the public eye with her article “Fell Ponies: Still Up to the Task” in The Whip. The Whip is the official publication of the American Driving Society, with which Judith has been affiliated for many years. Her article weaves together her personal story with our breed and the breed’s history.
Since Judith was born and spent her early years in Cumbria, she has a unique perspective that she shares in the article. “A century and a half ago, my grandfather Reverend Joseph Potts, of the Cumbrian village of Blennerhasset, caught up a wild Fell Pony mare right off the fell behind the Manse and put her to work.” In her article, Judith includes a picture of said mare hitched to a trap carrying her infant father and other relatives. (1)
Judith’s own involvement with Fell Ponies began with Pony Club. “Miss Ailsa Bickersteth [a member of the Fell Pony Society council] gave me her lovely black Fell Pony Linnel Buzzard to ride. Together we went to the smithy, a five-mile ride. Gymkhanas were held on the flat land by the River Lune. I often explored the fells behind my house before school. Pony Clubbers were expected to follow the hunt, opening gates and attending to any falls. I loved those days!” (2)
Judith returned to Fells later in life when Raisburn Letty II joined her on her farm in Maine. Judith and Letty have done just about anything you can do with a Fell Pony from sleighing and riding to driven dressage, farm work, and teaching driving students.
I was incredibly touched to be mentioned in Judith’s article. “There is one more Fell Pony person to whom I owe much thanks. Jenifer Morrissey lives high up in the Colorado Rockies with 12 or so Fell Ponies. Jenifer’s is a working farm. She breeds ponies with dedicated care, researching bloodlines, inherited conformation attributes, temperaments, health and character. She studies. She shares her results with other Fell Pony people. She is an environmentalist, a logger, a trainer and a farmer. Her approach to training youngstock has my total admiration.” (3) Thank you, Judith, for these kind words. They brought me to tears.
1) Bean-Calhoun, Judith. “Fell Ponies: Still up to the task,” The Whip, Volume 40, Number 3, August 2012. The American Driving Society, Cross Plains, Wisconsin, p. 39
2) Same as #1
3) Bean-Calhoun, p. 41
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012