Every year since 2106, Luna, an Ardennes working horse and her handler Dan Lyndwood, have visited Horsenden to assist Ranger Jon Staples with woodland management tasks such as hauling logs. This traditional method is more planet friendly and efficient – for instance a working horse can reach places that are inaccessible to a tractor.
Luna is very popular with our community who turn our in force to watch her working. But her annual visits aren’t enough and we have begun researching the possibility of having working horses all year round. Ranger Jon and volunteer Lynda have researched various breeds and been in touch with farmers and handlers across the country. They’ve concluded that the Fell Pony breed is the most suitable for Horsenden and they have spent time with some fell ponies to see them in action and to learn how to handle them.
About the breed
The Fell Pony is a versatile, working breed of mountain and moorland pony originating in the north of England in Cumberland and Westmorland farms of northwest England, and is used as a riding and driving pony. The breed is closely related to its geographic neighbour, the Dales Pony, but is a little smaller and more pony-like in build. The Fell Pony is noted for hardiness, agility, strength, and sure-footedness
There is still much research to be done. Not least of which is establishing if Horsenden is a safe and suitable environment for the ponies. All livestock needs special care and we will need to find a person or persons who can handle working horses, or are willing to learn, and who can commit to this undertaking at Horsenden. We are in the early stages and welcome input from those who can help or advise. Email us at Friendsofhorsendenhill@gmail.com.
Jon and Lynda have been visiting Lakeland farms and fells and meeting established and renowned experts, all of whom were happy to share their time and expertise. They are an important and valuable part of our journey. We thank them all for their enthusiastic welcome.
Tom Lloyd’s family have been involved with fell ponies for generations. His father Walter established the Hades Hill Fell Pony Stud 1957. Tom runs Fell Pony Adventures and this is how Lynda and Jon got some experience of handling the ponies and trekking with them over rough terrain.
Libby Robinson and David Pooley have bred fell ponies for many years at their family run Globetrotter Globetrotter Fell Pony Stud They recently founded the Fell Pony Heritage Trust and have a vision to establish a Fell Pony Heritage Centre in the Lake District. Libby and David have shared their time, their knowledge, introduced us to other breeders and welcomed us into their home.
Sam and Claire Beaumont work an upland farm Lake Ullswater. They are passionate about maintaining the natural beauty of the landscape and enriching the wildlife that falls within it. Claire gave us an insight into their pioneering approach to rewilding and regenerative farming. Find out more about Gowbarrow Hall Farm.