Derived from semi-feral or free-roaming ponies of the mountains and moorlands in the UK, the Dales pony is a breed of hardy and intelligent equines originally bred for their ability to carry heavy loads over rough terrain. Since these ponies can perform any task in harness and compete in various equine disciplines, they are referred to as “The Great All-Rounder.”
|Temperament/Personality||Calm, kind, good-natured, smart, alert, trainable|
|Physical Characteristics||Neat, broad head, bright and alert eyes, slightly incurving ears, strong neck, long, sloping shoulders, fairly short back, broad chest, well-muscled quarters; muscular legs with clearly defined tendons, dense bone, and round hooves; long, flowing mane and tail|
|Colors||Black is common; brown, bay, roan and gray are rare; white markings may appear as a star or snip on the head|
|Height (size)||13-14.2 hands (132-144 cm, 52-57 inches)|
|Weight||About 1,000 lbs (454 kg)|
|Common Uses||Dressage, driving, eventing, show jumping, cross-country, farm work, hunting races, endurance riding; served as war horse in WW1|
|Health||Some are affected by the genetic Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome (FIS), which result in serious infections and death|
|Gaited||Yes; clean, high, straight, true movements|
|Popular Traits||Powerful, lively, courageous, resistant to harsh weather|
|Feeding/Diet||Grass hay, mineral/salt block, low-calorie grain or concentrate|
|Country of Origin||Yorkshire Dales, England|
|Ancestors||Galloway pony, Pennine pony, Norfolk Cob, Arabian, Clydesdale, Yorkshire Roadster, Norfolk Trotter, Welsh Cob|
|Breed Registry/Association||Dales Pony Society|
Horses have been used in the Yorkshire Dales since the Roman times. The ancestors of modern Dales pony were used in the Pennine lead mines as pack animals for carrying iron ore, fuel, and finished lead. With the introduction of railways and modernization of roads, the sure-footed and robust Dales ponies were increasingly used in small farms. In the 18th century, the Dales excelled in harness racing and organized hunts because of their speed and agility.
In 1916, the stud book was established while the Dales Pony Improvement Society was formed after the infusion of Clydesdale blood deteriorated the quality of the ponies. Only the finest ponies with minimum drafting abilities served as war horses with the British Army. During WW2, the pony population declined because the animals were increasingly used as artillery ponies in the army, for work in cities, and pulling commercial wagons.
In the 1960s, some breeders took an effort to save the breed and mated Fell pony stallions with Dale mares. The Dales Pony Society was reorganized, and a “Grading-Up Register” was formed with the objective of preserving original Dales-type characteristics in ponies. Subsequently, their population increased, and some ponies were exported to Canada and the US during the 1990s. The Dales Pony Society of America was set up in 1999.