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Dales Pony

Dales Pony
Dales Pony
Country of origin: England
Breed standards
Dales Pony Society: Breed standards
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Dales Pony is a small horse breed native to the eastern Pennines of northern England. They have great stamina and were used as a pack animal.


Breed characteristics

The Dales is a very hardy breed, an easy keeper, and possesses great stamina and soundness. They usually have sturdy legs with dense bone and some feathering. The cannon bone can range from 8-9in. The hoof is usually of blue horn and is very strong.

The ponies are close-coupled and stocky, with strong hindquarters and loins, and high knee and hock action. Their neck is short with a luxurious mane, the breed standard stating it should be a yard long. In addition, they have ample feather on the legs and an abundant tail. They have a reputation as even-tempered and sensible ponies, suitable for both adults and children. These ponies are well noted for good, sound feet, and solid, flat bone on great limbs.

Dales Ponies are predominantly black or dark brown (a variation of bay), although some are grey or bay with the occasional blue or bay roan. The breed standard states Dales Ponies should be around the preferred height; being between 14 and 14.2 hands (hh).


The Dales Pony developed from the native Pennine Pony[1] and was greatly influenced by the now-extinct Scottish Galloway, which improved their speed and sure-footedness. The ponies were originally bred as pack animals to carry heavy loads of lead through the countryside from Northumberland and County Durham to furnaces.

With their agility, power and speed, the Dales had great success in the trotting races of the 18th century and the organized hunts. Because they could survive so well in a harsh climate, the British Army used them as pack and artillery ponies.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Clydesdale, Norfolk Trotter, and Yorkshire Roadster blood was added to improve the trotting ability of the Dales. The bloodline of the Welsh Cob stallion Comet was also added during the 1850s to improve the breed's gait.

The Fell Pony continued to intermingle with the Dales into the early 20th century. In 1912, Dalesman was chosen as a Fell premium stallion by the Board of Agriculture. In 1924, he was re-registered as a Dales Pony.[2]

The Dales Pony Improvement Society was formed at Hexham in 1916 to protect the ponies’ future. One of its aims was to discourage crossbreeding with Clydesdales. Because so many ponies were used in the war, the breed was nearly wiped out, and numbers did not begin to increase until 1963, when the Dales Pony Society [1] was formed.

The Dales Pony today

Today, the Dales Pony is used mainly for riding, due to its great endurance and steady temperament. They are used for day-long treks and long-distance rides, as well as dressage, driving, endurance riding, jumping events, and eventing. In the UK they have competed at National level two in Le Trec. Small herds still roam free in the eastern Pennines.

There are two sections of Dales Pony currently allowed in the main stud book - section A, ponies possessing minimal white markings, and section B, ponies possessing more white than allowed in the main registry of A.

See also

  • Mountain and moorland ponies


  1. Dales Pony, Oklahoma State University, retrieved December 22, 2008.
  2. Hartley Edwards, Elwyn (1992), Leading the Field: British Native Breeds of Horses & Ponies. Stanley Paul & Co Ltd. London. pp. 68-73.

External links


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