Warriors were believed to ride this breed during wars of that era. The Dales Pony was also believed to be used for mining during the same time. Richard Scrope, Chancellor of England during that era, owned a lead mine and used ponies to carry the iron ore, fuel and finished lead. Trains of around 20 packed ponies followed a mounted leader for this operation.
Dales of today are derived from a variety of different breeds. The native ponies were crossed with Scotish Galloway and Pennine bloodlines during the 1600s. During the 1700s, Norfolk Cob bloodlines were added. Today’s Dales’ bloodlines include Clydesdale, Norfolk Trotter and Yorkshire Roadster. Welsh Cobb was mixed during the 1850s.
The Dales Pony stud book was formed in 1916 by the Dales Pony Improvement Society after the Clydesdale bloodline began to affect the Dales breed. This ensured only the best bloodlines and characteristics would be used for breeding of Dales.
During World War II, the breed almost disappeared. Dales were used for breeding to create a working horse within the towns and for the British Army as packing horses. A small group of breeders were able to preserve the Dales Pony and in 1964, The Dales Pony Society was reorganized. Dales are classified as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The Dales stand around 57 inches high with a straight head and eyes that are set wide. It has a fairly short back and deep rib area. The quarters are muscular with strong sloping shoulders. Its legs are muscular with defined tendons and large round hooves and open heels. The mane, tail and leg feathers are silky, straight and abundant. Most of the Dales coat’s are black in color, but brown, bay, gray and roan are accepted.
Acceptable markings are a white star upon the head and the hind legs may have a small amount of white. All other marking are not accepted to be stud quality.
Dales are calm in nature and have the ability for carrying heavy loads for long distances. They are ideal for endurance riding, trekking, cross-country trips, eventing and show jumping. Some small herds still roam free in the eastern Pennines.
Image Caption: Dales Pony. Credit: Darren Copely/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)