What to Know About the Fell Pony

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on January 20, 2023
5 min read

Fell ponies are a small, hardy breed of horse native to the mountainous regions of northern England. They are known for their strength, endurance, and sure-footedness, which make them well-suited for working on rough terrain. Fell ponies are also known for their intelligence and calm dispositions, making them popular as riding and driving horses. 

They are versatile animals that can excel in a variety of disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing. Despite their many positive qualities, Fell ponies are still a rare breed, with only a few thousand individuals worldwide. However, they have a dedicated following of breeders and enthusiasts working to preserve and promote the breed. Read on to discover more Fell pony information.

The Fell pony temperament is known to be calm and gentle, making them a good choice for riders of all levels. They are intelligent and trainable and are eager to please their handlers. Fell ponies are generally docile and easy to handle and adapt well to new situations. They are also known for their strong work ethic.

In addition to their calm and gentle nature, Fell ponies have natural problem-solving abilities. They are quick learners and can adapt to new situations easily. They typically have good memories and can remember tasks and routines for long periods of time.

Fell ponies have stamina and endurance, which makes them well-suited for working on rough terrain. They have a compact, muscular build and can easily carry a rider or pull a cart. They are also sure-footed and able to navigate rugged terrain with ease.

Here are some additional facts about Fell ponies:

Fell pony lifespan. The lifespan of a Fell pony is generally 25-30 years, similar to other breeds of horses and ponies.

Fell pony appearance. They have a compact, muscular build, deep chests, and strong, sloping shoulders. They have distinctive heads with large eyes, a straight or slightly convex profile, and small, well-placed ears. Their manes and tails are generally thick, and their coats can be a variety of colors, including black, brown, chestnut, gray, and roan.

Fell pony size. The typical size of a fell pony is between 13.2 and 14.2 hands (54-58 inches) at the withers, which is small to medium-sized.

Fell pony diet. Fell ponies are hardy animals that can thrive on a variety of diets depending on their level of activity and the resources available to them. In the wild, Fell ponies would graze on grasses and other plants found in their native habitats. Domestic Fell ponies can be fed a diet of hay and grain, supplemented with vegetables and other sources of nutrients as needed.

Fell ponies are native to northern England. They are named after the "fells," which are the hills and mountains in this region. Fell ponies have lived in this area for centuries and have played an essential role in the region's history. They share their origins with other heavy pony breeds, such as the Dales pony and the Galloway pony. 

Fell ponies were initially used for various tasks, including farming, forestry, and mining. They were also used as pack animals and for transportation. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Fell ponies were used to carry lead and other minerals out of the mines in the region. They carried other goods and people across the rough, mountainous terrain as well.

In recent times, Fell ponies have been used for riding and driving. They are shown in a variety of equestrian disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, and eventing. Fell ponies are suitable for a variety of riders and purposes. They are a good choice for beginners due to their calm and gentle dispositions and willingness to please. They are also suitable for more experienced riders and can excel with proper training. In addition to riding, Fell ponies are also popular as driving horses. They are strong and hardy animals that can easily pull a cart or carriage. They have also been used in the military, as well as for conservation grazing.

Fell ponies are bred in several countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the UK, several breeding programs and societies are dedicated to preserving and promoting the breed. 

The Fell pony is considered to be a "critical" breed by The Livestock Conservancy, which means that the breed has less than 1,000 annual registrations in the United States and an estimated global population of less than 5,000. The Fell Pony Society in the United Kingdom maintains a herdbook and works to maintain breeding standards, protect the breed and promote its use. 

Conservation efforts also include genetic diversity management through DNA testing and educational and promotional activities to raise awareness of the breed and encourage new breeders to participate in the conservation effort. Some conservation projects also include the purchase and preservation of important breeding stock, as well as supporting the use of Fell ponies in conservation grazing programs. The conservation status is considered critical but is monitored and supported by society, breeders, and enthusiasts to keep the breed from extinction and to maintain its unique characteristics and versatility.

Regular exercise and grooming are important to keep a Fell pony healthy and happy. They should be turned out to pasture as much as possible and allowed to graze on good quality hay. They also need regular hoof care and dental checkups, as their hooves and teeth can be affected if they live in rugged terrain.

Feeding a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of protein and roughage will help keep the Fell pony at a healthy weight. Vaccinations and regular veterinary check-ups should also be part of a Fell pony's care routine. In terms of grooming, brushing the coat regularly will keep it clean and tangle-free. And regular mane and tail care will keep them neat. Fell ponies are also very social animals and thrive in the company of other ponies or with a human companion.