The Dales Pony is a critically endangered and absolutely fabulous native breed from northern England. These ponies typically stand 14-14.2 hands high, but smaller and larger Dales can be found. They are beautiful, friendly, gentle, hardy, and very strong, with great endurance, excellent conformation, and lovely temperaments. They are intelligent and easy to train. They are known as “The Great All Rounder” in their native England for good reason. They are excellent riding, driving and work ponies. They were originally bred for carrying packs of lead quickly over treacherous mountain terrain. They traditionally worked in groups of 9-20 ponies, working free-headed (not tied to each other) overseen by one person riding a pony. They are naturals at navigating the various challenges of trail riding, and thrive on being out and about, investigating their world, and finding solutions to problems. They tend to be very well balanced and comfortable to ride. They tend not to panic in awkward situations. They are used for a variety of riding disciplines now, including trail, dressage, jumping, hunting, Trek, working equitation, endurance, and cattle sorting.
The Dales Pony Society’s webpage has a wealth of information about the breed: https://www.dalespony.org/
Here is information taken from the Dales Pony Society’s website regarding why the breed is critically endangered: The Second World War nearly saw the end of the breed. Ponies were taken by the Army and mares were used for breeding vanners, and even young mares were sold for work in towns and cities. Few ever came back, and after the war the fate of the Dales breed lay in the hands of a few dedicated breeders who refused to believe the day of the heavy pony was over. In 1964, the Dales Pony Society was re-organised, and “improvement” was dropped from the title. Ponies were sought and registered, and a grading-up register was introduced for inspected ponies. This far-sighted action has been successful. When the grading-up register was closed in 1971, the number of registered ponies had risen steadily, and the quality of ponies was excellent, as it remains today.
We have 5 mares, an imported black stallion, and an imported blue roan stallion prospect. One of our broodmares has a fused fetlock from a severe injury that was nearly fatal. Her only work is having foals. All of our other ponies participate in off-site activities to increase awareness about the breed: showing, breed expos, trail riding, driving, and clinics. Visitors are often taken on trail rides on these ponies through the beautiful state park trails by our property.