Lownthwaite Fell Ponies

History of Lownthwaite Fells

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29 September 2003

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In the old days some of these wild ponies would be walked to a nearby Fair or Auction to be sold. A rope halter would be placed upon each pony, the halter shank of one pony being then plaited into the tail of another. A caveson would be fitted to the first pony, with a long rope attached to it. Driven from behind a line of three or four ponies would set off, only once they were on the road, going in the right direction could any sort of order be attained. Frank Wales remembers once meeting a car, the ponies went one side and he was at the other so he ran over the bonnet of the car with his “big shoes on.” Having to travel several miles to market in this fashion would doubtless be a harem- scarum experience for both man and beast. Unsold ponies returned home, often with the handler riding one of them! The last time ponies were walked to Appleby Fair, in 1946 two ponies were sold for £22 each.

During the 1914 -1918 war, the number of ponies that the army could purchase at such places as Brough Hill and Appleby Fair was insufficient for the war effort. Consequently the army came and commandeered ponies. Also taking perhaps a cart, a load of fodder and the heavy horses to pull it, leaving insufficient fodder on which to feed the remaining farm animals. The army returned in the 1930’s to buy ponies, which would go to India and Pakistan as pack ponies. This time they were more selective; choosing only ponies that were unbroken / unspoilt and they must be correct at the five places where they touched the ground, (a good set of teeth, and feet that could walk many miles unshod.) In addition they must have fine, silky, straight feather - hair that would not become tangled, dirty and infested. Long manes and tails were neither fashionable nor useful.

Many of the Lownthwaite ponies went unregistered; there was no money to do so, until after they were sold. (If then registered, they were done so by and in the name of their new owner.).

Mr Henry Wales (Harry) married Miss Sarah Annie Mason of Sickergill, Renwick in 1917. They had three children, Thomas Mason (Tom), Sarah Lucy and Henry Francis (Frank.) They would each attend Milburn School, riding there and back each day on their ponies. It was Harry who