Judy Fairburn kindly arranged
for the Scottish Group to visit the Townend Stud near Hesket Newmarket, in the
north lakes, on Saturday 22 October 2000, the morning of the Autumn Meeting.
She was unfortunately unable to attend and it was disappointing that only
one family accepted the generous offer to view the Townend herd.
Though we were still made very welcome by Margaret and Eddie Wilson.
First stop was to tag a mare
and filly that were going to be exported to Holland later that day.
Then on to view the famous twins (thought to be the only surviving Fell
pony twins in history) who gave a display of their paces and posed for photos
while mum look on totally unconcerned. Margaret
told us that she had accepted them very well even though it had been her first
foaling. The twins were quite timid
despite being bottle fed and handled at such an early age.
Next into the barn to see the
newly weaned foals. These will be
kept in from now on for the winter to save the ground and to give Margaret a
chance to handle them, although they were already fighting for attention from
us. I was amazed at how friendly
and calm they were, having only been separated from their mums for about a week.
The mares were out grazing in a nearby field.
They will return to the open fell in the next few weeks where they will
spend their time until returning to foal in the safety of the fields. Margaret said that some of the older mares never wander far
from the farm gate where they will be fed hay in the worst of the winter.
Further down the road to see
the mares and younger foals, which were still together.
The foals all approached us with absolutely no fear of strangers.
The Wilson’s young stallion Lownthwaite Moonshadow was in with these
mares. A replacement for the
successful Drybarrows Jeff, this three year old has yet to prove himself but
hopefully he will pass on his exceptionally quiet nature to his progeny due next
Indoors for a warming cup of
coffee with Eddie before the Dutchmen arrived to pick up their ponies.
We had an interesting chat with the two Dutch men who are so enthusiastic
about the breed, coming over up to six times a year to buy ponies.
Fell ponies are very popular in Holland where they are praised for their
talents and good temperaments. There
are about 350 ponies in the Dutch group used for riding, driving, breeding and
“looking at”. They hold two
successful shows a year in a country where no exhibitor has to travel for more
than 1˝ hours. They also organise
pleasure rides attended by many members.
Then on to meet Glenis Cockbain
of Keswick. Due to the traffic
situation on the Penrith to Keswick road we sprinted up to the stone circle to
meet and compare her prize winning Dales and Fell mares.
Strangely they don’t mix, preferring the company of their own breed.
It was interesting to see the Dales at close quarters to see the
similarities and differences between them.
Just time for a quick chat on the way down and to rescue some hill
walkers from some curious Dales ponies to be asked “Do they eat peanuts?”,
Glenis gave a definite “No” and we rushed off to the meeting at Lowther to
hear the latest news
It was a great privilege to see
these well-bred ponies in the natural terrain where they so obviously thrive.
I am grateful to Margaret and Glenis for giving up their time to show a
nosey amateur around.
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