In America, ponies are often considered to be children’s mounts. After kids grow beyond a certain point, they typically ‘graduate’ to a horse. Fell Ponies, however, are helping to break that pony stereotype.
Increasingly women who are no longer interested in mounting (or falling off) a taller horse are attracted to Fell Ponies. In addition to their smaller size, a Fell’s weight-carrying ability, sure-footedness, and calm intelligent temperament are making them appealing as mounts for more than young people.
A story from lifelong Fell enthusiast Judith Bean brought a smile to my face. For many years Judith has been teaching young people to ride with her Fell Pony mare Raisburn Lettie II. Inevitably the youngsters ‘graduate’ to horses as is so common.
Recently some of Judith’s students returned to the barn where Lettie lives and reconnected with Judith. They shared with Judith a renewed appreciation for Lettie after spending time riding bigger horses. They told Judith they didn’t feel as safe on their horse, and they also felt the horse wasn’t quite ‘with them’ like Lettie had always been. They also missed Lettie’s broad comfortable back that was closer to the ground. Perhaps those young people will return one day to a pony.
A client new to Fell Ponies contacted me, and I encouraged them to visit a pony, or better yet an entire herd of Fells, before deciding how they wanted to add a Fell Pony to their life. They journeyed to a nearby breeder with a good-sized herd, and their comment to me upon returning home will stay with me for a long time. “I will now never be without a Fell Pony in my life.” They found the ponies calm, curious, and friendly beyond anything they’d previously experienced.
An owner of one of my ponies recently shared something similar, saying how dear their pony was to them and that their pony had so much personality. “I see why you raise them,” they said. A Fell Pony colleague hinted at the same idea when they shared that they wouldn’t trade one hundred horses for one of their Fells. “Very hard to imagine anyone who is lucky enough to spend time with a Fell not falling in love with them.” I know I would have a serious quandary if forced to pick out a single one of my Fells to part with. They each are so interesting to have around for their own reasons.
As a pony enthusiast, I am thrilled with stories that appreciate ponies. And as a Fell Pony breeder, I’m of course thrilled that people are appreciating what makes this breed so special. It’s a special thrill, though, to have people reconsidering the stereotype that ponies are just for children. I love that Fell Ponies are making people think twice about what ponies are good for.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2016