One of the greatest assets the Fell Pony breed has is its ardent enthusiasts. A friend asked how anyone tells the ponies apart in a herd: they all seem to look alike, often black, hairy, and no markings. I replied that I know more than one breeder who can stand in a pasture with twenty mares around them and identify each one individually and correctly. They know their ponies that well. The relationships these ponies give us inspire us not only to know them individually but also to defend their history, their heritage, and their type.
It is good that the breed has its ardent enthusiasts and passionate breeders because there are times when action is required. Of late there have seemed to be more numerous opportunities than usual. In one case I found a very outdated description of the breed on a conservation website. After informing a friend of the problem, the organization was contacted and was ‘mortified’ about the inaccurate portrayal of our breed. In another case, a writer in a national magazine incorrectly identified an equine in a photograph as a Fell. I informed a colleague well qualified to address the problem so that appropriate action could be taken.
In a breed newsletter, I was interested to read public apologies from the chair and vice-chair of the Fell Pony Society to a specific member. I admire the member who had the fortitude to call out those in power and ask for appropriate behavior. It is sometimes difficult but always important to confront those with the power of pen or position in defense of our ponies. Just because they are in positions of power or are able to wield a pen doesn’t mean they necessarily have any better perspective on what’s best for our breed than we do.
One area of focus for me has been intelligently interpreting the breed standard. I’m even more motivated now after reading an article interpreting the breed standard that was published in a breed newsletter. The article was a major feature and intended to inform people new to the breed. Unfortunately the article contained a number of statements not supported by the breed standard it was attempting to explain. Sadly, because of the social status of the author, it is likely that their published interpretation of the breed standard could be accepted without question. I’ve written three articles so far to provide better information; it’s the least I can do.
Another situation has me vexed. An article in a national magazine portrayed a Fell Pony stallion unfavorably, though factually the account was accurate. In time I’m sure the right opportunity will come along to share with a national audience the true character of our breed’s male members.
I received the following comment from someone new to the breed. “The admiration and love I see people have for Fells Ponies is so outstanding.” These ponies inspire and motivate us to be vigilant. We stand up to the power of pen and position when necessary to ensure that stories and conduct in the name of the Fell Pony are indeed worthy of the breed. These ponies deserve nothing less.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2017
You can find more stories about the Fell Pony breed in my book Fell Ponies: Observations on the Breed, the Breed Standard, and Breeding, available internationally by clicking here or on the cover image.