When stewarding a British native pony breed in America, especially a relatively rare one, questions inevitably arise (or at least they should!). And when you’re like me and have never had a British native before, the questions are numerous. Fortunately, questions are just reasons to investigate answers, which is something I love to do. The Fell Pony has given me lots of reasons to ask questions and investigate answers.
When I first learned of Fell Ponies fourteen years ago, I immediately began researching. At the time, the internet had but a few relevant websites, and entries in my horse books were relatively short. In my first few years with the breed I collected all the stud books as well as back issues of Fell Pony Society newsletters, and I began corresponding with master breeders to fill in the gaps that I found in the resources that were available. As I learned more, I discovered that the breed has long been stewarded by a community of individual breeders, meaning information is dispersed rather than centralized as it would be if breeding were strictly controlled by the breed society. Asking questions as broadly as possible is therefore the best way to get to know the breed.
Here are some examples of questions I’ve asked and investigated over the years:
- Are rare colors rare?
- Why is judging quality a conundrum?
- What do pony ears look like?
- What bloodlines are rare?
- How did Peggy Crossland define the ideal Fell Pony?
- Is it possible to get consistency and predictability in breeding?
I’ve now collected a decade of questions and answers together in my new book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding. I was amazed when it grew to 250 pages; most of those pages also have color photographs of Fell Ponies.
Putting this book together has spawned new questions already, and it’s my hope that by publishing what I’ve learned so far, more questions will be asked as well. The Fell Pony breed can only be strengthened by such inquiries. Observations is available on amazon.com by clicking here and signed copies are available by clicking here.