When I first got involved with Fell Ponies, I did so because of their working pony heritage. An informal survey of my North American peers at the time, though, indicated that the vast majority of them got involved with Fells because of their resemblance to the Friesian horse. I suppose it was inevitable that at some point I would be given the opportunity to understand the common attraction of the breeds.
I have only seen a Friesian in person once, and it didn’t strike me as resembling a Fell, so when I had the opportunity to board a Friesian mare here at Willowtrail Farm for a night, I looked forward to the opportunity. The owner told me that Wilma was a Baroque-style Friesian, and I understood this to mean heavier boned, not as tall, and perhaps cooler in temperament than those being bred presently. Given my interest in traditional Fells, I expected I might appreciate a Friesian that was old style. I wasn’t disappointed.
Wilma was 25 years old when she arrived here, and while many people say that Fells remind them of Friesians, I can proudly say the opposite. Wilma the Friesian very much reminded me of my late Fell Pony mare Sleddale Rose Beauty. The quiet confidence, the regal stance, the head mare attitude, as well as the good bone, the jet black color, and the greying with age, made me instantly like Wilma if only because I felt Beauty’s presence once again.
I prefer my ponies; Wilma seemed like a giant. But I’m happy I got to meet her. And I’m glad to better understand what brings many people to the Fell Pony. It only took me sixteen years!
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016
If you want to learn more about Fell Ponies, you will find the book Fell Ponies: Observations about the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding of interest. It is available internationally by clicking on the title or the cover image.