Roy Ottink once described the Drybarrows Fell Ponies as “diamonds in the rough straight from the fell and wild as the hills….” (1) This description was very much on my mind when I decided to import Drybarrows Calista. I took reassurance from David Thompson’s description of Calista as the friendliest pony in his herd of youngstock. Nonetheless, the journey from fell-living in Cumbria to Rocky Mountain living in Colorado requires transit via truck and plane and days of standing in stalls, so I wondered what the pony would be like that I received compared to the one that David sent me.
The pony that arrived here, despite the rigors of travel, was indeed the pony that David sent away. I don’t think I’ve ever called a Fell Pony “sweetie” as often as I have Calista in the month that she’s been here. It somehow seems unfair to all the other Fell Ponies I have here to so enjoy this newly arrived one.
It would be easy to assume, based on how David described Calista to me initially, that she is an anomaly in being so easy to get along with. But a story in the recent Fell Pony Society Magazine and another on Facebook suggest that perhaps the Drybarrows Fell Ponies are no longer as ‘wild as the hills’ as they used to be. David took his youngsters to the Fell Pony Society & Northern Dartmoor Group Study Day in April 2018. One of the ponies “had only been brought in off the fell and haltered the previous week.” (2) Then Penny Walster says of Drybarrows Dissident who took 2nd in the Fell, Highland, and Dales class at the British National Foal Show in November 2018, “What a fabulous little man he has been today a massive long day at The British National Foal Show… A month off the fell, and you could not buy this temperament…he showed like a pro!” (3)
It appears that Calista is not an anomaly but instead just another representative of the type of pony that David is producing at Drybarrows these days. I agree with Penny’s assessment: “Credit to you for superb breeding!” I look forward to watching the continued evolution of the Drybarrows stud under David’s stewardship, with a little help locally from Calista to interpret it all!
Ottink, Roy, as quoted in Miller, Francis.“Drybarrows Fell Ponies”, The Fell Pony Society Magazine, Spring 2015, Volume 30, p. 78
Simpson, Claire. “Fell Pony Society & Northern Dartmoor Group Study Day,” The Fell Pony Society Magazine, Autumn 2018 – Volume 37, p. 79.
Walster, Penny. Facebook post 26 November 2018 at 12:14AM
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2018
More stories like this one can be found in my book What an Honor, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.