The Dales Pony
Though not often recognized in North America, the rare and beautiful Dales Pony is a highly versatile breed extremely suited to both riding and driving. Its agility and surefootedness makes it a fantastic trail mount for both bold and timid riders, and its calm and gentle temperament is ideal for disabled equestrians and troubled or “at-risk” youth. It is a top-notch mount to give confidence to both young children and mature adults new to jumping, while still providing serious athletic talents for the seasoned competitor in the jumper ring. Known as “The Great All-rounder” in England, the Dales enjoys a rich history as a working breed, both as a pack pony in the Pennine lead mining industry and as a draft pony on the small farms in and around the Yorkshire Dales.
Today, the breed is listed as “critical” by both the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK and the Livestock Conservancy in the US. The pony is sought after as a safe family mount as well as for its athletic abilities in a wide variety of equestrian pursuits. Although there are only roughly 250 Dales in North America – and fewer than 3000 worldwide – this rare pony enjoys a disproportionate amount of success in a variety of disciplines across the United States including: dressage, three-day eventing, hunter/jumpers, trail trials, and all forms of carriage driving competitions, most notably Combined Driving Events. For a brief history of the breed, click here.