New Policies

Two new policies have been approved by the DPS Council.  The first is the Social Media and Electronic Communication Policy which comes into effect immediately and the second is the Equine Influenza Policy which comes into effect from 1 January 2020.
More details can be found on the Policies page.

Waterside Storm Rescue

Pony Rescued From Stream: Owner Praises Fire Crews But Has Concerns Over Staffing Levels

A dramatic rescue of a pony trapped in a stream has left its owner thankful to the skills of fire and rescue crews but fearful over perceived lack of cover within Surrey Fire & Rescue Service.

The drama unfolded last Sunday (June 2) when Sam Foreman made her daily morning visit to her 27-year-old pony, Storm, who she stables at a smallholding in Worplesdon. She has owned him since he was nine months old and says he is a “beautiful  gentle soul”.

Sam Foreman’s pony, Storm, trapped in the stream. All pictures by Sam Foreman.

Sam takes up the story: “I arrived at about 8.30am and at first I couldn’t see him. Storm was lying down in the stream when I found him, the very cold water was washing around him, he whinnied when he saw me.

“I managed to put a head collar on him and tried to pull him out. He was fighting to get free but his back legs were stuck. The owner of the smallholding arrived and phoned the fire service.

“A crew from Guildford’s white watch soon arrived and assessed the situation. They told me they were calling an animal rescue team, but it would be coming from Lyndhurst in Hampshire as the Surrey one, based at Painshill in Cobham, was not on duty that weekend.”

Sam says that by this time her pony was in a poor condition, having probably been in the water for several hours. “He was cold,” continued Sam, “and his eyes were starting to roll and were white. Luckily it had not been a cold night.

“He’s a Dales pony and a native breed, so quite hardy by nature. But he is old – in human years equivalent to an 88-year-old.”

The animal rescue team, with firefighters from Lyndhurst and also Winchester, arrived at about 11am, and Sam says they carefully assessed the situation and it took numerous attempts to be push a body bar under Storm.”

Hay bales placed around the pony to make him more comfortable.

Sam had also called a vet and she and the Guildford crew put hay bales beneath Storm that made him more comfortable.

She continues: “Finally, after about an hour, they managed to pull Storm free. The vet had sedated him and was concerned that he might be suffering from shock, hypothermia and the fact that he had been down so long, lack of circulation, and weight on internal organs. The longer a horse is down the less likely it is to survive.

Fire crews work to free the trapped pony.

“There was no circulation in his back legs and at first he wouldn’t stand up. He was propped up by more hay bales and the fire crews then rolled him over. Finally, he stood up and staggered around for a bit.

All working together to pull the pony from the water.

“The vet said his temperature was very low and she gave him some painkillers.”

Nearly there. . .

They all pull together. . .

Happily, Storm is now making a good recovery from his ordeal, but Sam wonders how he came to be in the stream as she knows that he does not usually go anywhere near water.

Storm was unable to stand and lays supported by hay bales.

Sam says: “He just doesn’t like water and we’ve noticed some cut marks on his back that were nothing to do with his rescue.”

She is extremely grateful to the fire crews but is alarmed at what appears to be a shortage of staff at Surrey fire stations. She said if the Surrey animal rescue team from Painshill had been on duty they would surely have arrived much quicker and her pony’s ordeal would not have been so prolonged.

Sam with her beloved Dales pony Storm.

Surrey Fire & Rescue has issued a statement following the incident. A spokesman said: “We have tried-and-tested plans in place to make sure we can always deal with incidents effectively and we continually monitor all our vehicles around the county, using new technology, so that people and equipment are in the right place at the right time.

“As a specialist appliance needing specific skills, the availability of the animal rescue unit is always subject to the availability of specially trained firefighters which naturally varies on a shift by shift basis, across the county. On the day of this incident, specialist assistance was requested from a neighbouring fire and rescue service – this is normal practice and we reciprocate for them when needed.”

Do sign the petition: We demand Surrey County Council scrap their plans to leave 7 major fire appliances un-crewed at night
https://petitions.surreycc.gov.uk/Fire-Cuts/?fbclid=IwAR1eAHRWVtvO7q_zIr6wlDXlwMZTwk1nqNB7Bw3rBVAGW-jKZRuDFzbjTYY

Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/864668977048044/photos/a.864713413710267/1244080182440253/?type=3&source=48

UK Native Pony Wildness Survey 2019

If you are interested in taking part in a survey about the wildness of UK Native Ponies, please read the attached document here and contact David Murray for any further details.

The Survey is taking place from March through August 2019. The Questionnaire is attached here and also on the internet at equine-wildness.uk. The website email address to return questionnaires is also on the website. This is: equine-wildness@hotmail.com

Forgotten Horses Photographic Project

We have recently been contacted by Cécile Zahorka, a freelance photographer from Germany. There follows an extract from her email:

“In the past year I have been working on a project called “Forgotten Horses”, where I photograph and document rare and endangered horse breeds. We have a similar society to the RBST in Germany regarding animal breeds with endangered populations and I have been working together with breeders and owners. I have planned to make a journey to UK for this project, with the mission to find and document native British breeds, such as the Dales Pony.

I’m looking for passionates, breeders, owners this breed, which I could contact and visit during my journey.

It is my aim to portrait the breed in its traditional context and in typical landscapes, in front of barns or whatever the surroundings offer and fit to the horse, to make high quality pictures for all media and raise awareness to the matter.

I would be very happy if you would be interested in having a session with me.

I have set up a small site with all details to my journey and project: https://thepixelnomad.com/uk-june-2019/

I would love to give the Dales Pony a platform and raise awareness to its vulnerable status.

and you can see my work on http://instagram.com/vor.die.linse/ or on http://facebook.com/vor.die.Linse/

Help and Support is very appreciated.

With kind regards from Germany

Cécile Zahorka

(WhatsApp on +49 163 2881115)”

If you are interested, details of how to book a session are on the website above, which covers her journey.

Best Shod Horse – What is the judge looking for?

Best Shod Horse - What is the judge looking for?


Best shod horse competitions are not won by some special type of shoeing just meant for show classes. They are in fact won by good forging skills needed in shoe making or shaping the shoes, allied to knowledge of equine anatomy and physiology, an understanding of the mechanical forces that act upon the legs and feet of a horse.

The basis of any good horse shoeing job is the hoof trimming and preparation. No horse has perfect limb conformation. It is not possible to just rasp a flat plane on the ground surface of the hoof at ninety degrees to the leg, not even a static leg. A horses limb is dynamic at all times the horse is standing, slight weight changes (a movement of the head) cause flexing of the hoof at different places around the wall.

Blood is kept moving through the foot, slowly perhaps, while the horse is at rest, and much more quickly at the faster paces. Researchers have measured a massive negative pressure in the digital cushion above the frog in a horse at trot, as the foot expands at the heels and the Pedal bone levers down from the toe under load from above blood must be drawn to such a low pressure area and displace blood ahead of it when the load is removed (the hoof lifting of the ground).

If one heel is left longer or the other rasped too much they will not work as a pair. The longer side hits the ground first and is shunted up while the shorter side is pushed down to reach the ground, with one half pushed up and the other pushed down, a sheer force is created that passes through the centre line of the frog causing the frog cleft to split deeply into the sensitive tissue. Often the condition exists in a pair of feet so the discomfort and pain can go unnoticed. Many cases of thrush which don't respond to normal treatment are caused by this constant sheering between the heels. The horses foot is a very vascular structure, the sole the frog and the sensitive lamina behind the horny wall and not forgetting the coronary band, it's this band of blood rich tissue that secrete the horny wall.

The coronary band is where the farrier first looks for some of the information that helps him balance stresses through the hoof. The coronary band with the nail bed on the underside produces horn tubules that should drop down like a curtain from a rail. Is the rail level? Any upward thrusting curve could indicate the hoof wall is to long in the quarters or heel. Some times this uneven nail bed cannot be changed as it is how the horse is made, but sometimes it is the hoof trimming that is at fault. Unshod horses on abrasive ground have a chance to balance out their own feet but shod feet mean the error remains and blood flow may be impaired or soft tissue damaged over and over with each foot fall.
If this scenario continues for months or years then the working life of that horse is maybe five to fifteen years shorter than it otherwise might have been.

The fit of the shoe is important as well. It should help break over, this reduces strain on the flexor tendons at the back of the leg as well as keeping lever forces in the front of the hoof to a minimum. The heels and sole also suffer less stress. The forces that produce quarter cracks in the wall are reduced if break over is easier. Any asymmetry beyond normal should be compensated for fitting the shoe a little wide at that narrow side when measured from a mid line down the centre of the frog.

Under load from each foot fall the bulbs of the heels sink down expanding the ground surface of the wall so any shoe fitted must allow for this expansion by being fitted wide enough to prevent the wall sliding off the shoe and over its edge. After only a week or so the shoe would sit inside the wall causing a loss of normal limb action and possible lameness if the heel and quarters of the shoe are not fitted properly.

The shoe should be long enough to reach the last ground bearing point of the frog.

In a good foot the last ground bearing point of the hoof wall at the heel would be level with the last bearing point of the frog, but often it isn't. The shoe should be wide enough to cover the wall and part of the sole, and long enough to provide support and cover for the heels. The ease of break over coupled to adequate length and cover of the heels is often enough to subtly move weight forward in the foot, placing it more centrally under the leg and closer to the pivot point of the Pedal joint.

Good logical foot preparation and sensible shoes fitted properly not only allow for improved action, reducing over reaching and pulled shoes, but the horse's useful life will be considerably lengthened.

Besides looking for all of these things, a judge of a best shod foot class will also be looking for craftsmanship in the work done. Good clean forge work on the shoes. Careless or unskilled, inaccurate hammer blows leave unsightly marks on the metal, in the trade it's known as "leaving your name and address".

The nails should be driven to a good height to have a firm hold on good horn, but not so high as to leave only the weak point of the nail to form a clench with. Equally nails should not be driven so low down that they are in the oldest weakest horn at the bottom of the hoof.

If the contours of the wall allow, it's nice to see all the clenches in a straight line, and not one up one down. Ugly deep grooves under the clenches show a lack of care taken, but also weaken the hoof wall at a vital spot.

Tim Challoner A.F.C.L.

A Breed Apart

A Breed Apart


For generations, they were a common sight, hauling ploughs and bales of hay, and carrying heavy loads of lead across the countryside. Strong and sure-footed, Dales ponies were integral to much of rural northern England.

One man who knows more than most about Teesdale’s native breed is David Eccles, who has completed an undefeated season showing his pony, Westwick Heather, across the region. It represents perhaps the best year yet for Mr Eccles, who farms at Hardberry Hill, near Middleton-in-Teesdale, with his wife, Alison.

He began breeding the ponies 30 years ago, armed with a knowledge that has been passed down through the generations. Mr Eccles names Leaman Wall as one of those who passed their knowledge on to him. “I used to help out at Leaman Wall’s farm in Lartington” he said “He had two or three ponies, he saw I was keen, and I started showing them. I bought one from him and that’s how I started. I sold that first pony and worked my way up from there, always trying to better myself. I’m still trying to better myself now, and that’s the secret – I’m always trying to improve.”

In 1987, Mr Eccles moved to a smallholding in Westwick, and to this day he still gives his ponies the Westwick name. Mr Eccles began winning competitions in the early 1990’s with Bolam Lady Rose, and Westwick Primrose, amongst others. He won the Yorkshire Show in 2002 and 2006, before having perhaps his most successful season to date in 2008, with his new Champion, Westwick Heather – the granddaughter of Bolam Lady Rose.
Mr Eccles was unbeaten throughout 2008 with Heather, winning a hatful of titles and trophies. They won every competition they entered, taking championships at Wolsingham, Reeth, Ryedale, Streatlam, The Yorkshire Show, and everywhere. “A lot of work and effort goes into it – it doesn’t just come overnight”, said Mr Eccles. “It takes commitment and patience, and we are only really seeing the results over the last few years.”

Much of Mr Eccles’ success has come since he moved to Hardberry Hill six years ago, but Dales ponies have an association with the farm that goes much further back in time. Records show that a man called, appropriately, William Coltman, bred Dales ponies at Hardberry Hill in the late 19th century. One of his ponies, Little Wonder II, became a champion in 1886.

At this time, the ponies provided valuable service to the dale before the arrival of the engine, working on farms and in the lead mining industry. “They are good workers,” said Mr Eccles. “They’re not big, but they have big hearts and they are very strong – they can work all day long.”

Numbers fell as the twentieth century progressed and they came close to extinction in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A small group of enthusiasts decided to keep the breed going, and today the numbers are much healthier, with the ponies becoming increasingly popular for riding and driving.

“They make a good family pony,” said Mr Eccles. “They are sensible and have a good temperament, and they are very hardy and low cost – they rarely have anything wrong with them.” The Eccles receive regular enquiries about their ponies, and recently sold one to a family in Germany.

One pony that is not for sale, however, is the celebrated Westwick Heather. “Nobody could afford Heather,” said Mr Eccles, “she is worth too much to us”

Andrew Dowson (Reproduced with kind permission of the Teesdale Mercury)

Dales Ponies at the RDA Nationals and World Championships

Dales Ponies at the RDA Nationals and World Championships


At least 2 Dales Ponies and 1 partbred were at the RDA National Championships at Hartpury in July 2007. Maidendale GJ (Biggles) qualified

Elaine Goodall (Crispin's owner & Otley RDA instructor) with Crispin and Otley Group riders Lynne Burnley (mounted) and Bernadette Spellman

in the Working Horse/Pony without

needing his hair extensions that year, thank goodness. He and his riders did well, but weren't placed.

The partbred Maidendale Grenadier had won his Regional dressage qualifier, so great things were expected of him. He was very calm and quiet during his warm-up, so his rider went through a full run-through before his test in the main arena. He remained calm and quiet, made a nice transition into his first canter on the corner ……….. and continuing straight on, popped over the 3'6” rails dividing the practice arena. His poor rider, taken by surprise, fell off and his entry was scratched.

The star of the show, though was Elaine Goodall's Hillbro' Crispin, at the time, the current holder of the Lizzie Shield for Veteran Performance Dales Pony. Not only did he compete with his own riders from the Otley Group, but helped out one of the riders from the Meirionnydd Special Riding Group when his own horse became upset in the collecting ring and couldn't compete. Crispin's record in the Nationals is impressive and in 2007 year included:

Crispin competing in the Arena with Maria Zagorskaya

4th Led Dressage
5th and 7th Countryside Challenge
5th Grade 1a Dressage
1st and 3rd Combined Training

Before setting off for the RDA National Championships, Elaine was approached by Russia and asked if Crispin could stay on for the FEI World Para Dressage Championships the following week.

The Russian team couldn't bring their own horses, so were looking for suitable mounts in the UK. Crispin was ridden by the Russian Grade 1a Champion Dressage Rider, Maria Zagorskaya. He became very popular with her and the rest of the team and well known to everyone as “the little, black, Russian horse”. He did a brilliant job with Maria.

Despite the Russians being an 'emerging' nation in dressage, the team took 18th place and Maria was 17th both in the Team test and individually in her grade. The pair then went on to take 15th place in the Freestyle Dressage to Music, all thanks to the world's first Russian Dales Pony.

Maggie Tansley

All in a Dales Work

All in a Dales Work


Twenty odd years ago I was talked into taking part in a course teaching ‘snigging’.

I’d never even heard of the word before, however, it was to change my life. I started my forestry work in 1971 and at that time horses had virtually disappeared from the woods

Charlie Parker with Lowkbers Bracken near Moffat

about 10 years previously. In my wood yard at Ingleton, I was well equipped with modern day machinery, tractors, Unimogs, etc., so going on a ‘snigging’ course was taking a step backwards or was it?

On the course I was introduced to George Read. George had been using his ponies in the wood since Adam was a lad! A real down to earth chap, we got on well and are good
friends to this day. Firstly I met Danny, a Dales type cob with a hint of Clydesdale about 14.2hh, who had been working with George since being 4 years old. Then there was Candy, of no fixed breeding, but obviously a lot of native blood standing around 14hh. Watching George working his ponies was inspirational and that led me down the route I was to take.

Charlie Parker with Lowkbers Bracken stacking tree trunks ready for further transportation

Why Dales ponies? Gina had ridden Dales ponies as a child and I am a staunch supporter of our native breeds and being a Yorkshireman, so Dales it had to be. Dales ponies are intelligent, agile and sure footed, incredibly strong for their size, have immense stamina, keep sound and are good doers. We needed ponies that could do various tasks, snigging (timber extraction using horses and ponies), farm work, riding and driving. Gina enjoyed hunting so the ponies needed to be true all rounders and they proved their worth time and time again.

In my line of work I am often called in to ‘thin’ plantations which are inaccessible for machinery, usually tight awkward places or in area’s of special significance where they don’t want huge ‘ruts’ leaving behind, my Dales ponies and cobs can get where many machines can not, as they can turn tighter and negotiate steep banks. These ponies are environmentally friendly. They leave little if any mess and they don’t destroy the flora and fauna. No damage is caused to the trees left standing or their delicate root systems. They create no noise or air pollution.
Timber extraction using horses and ponies is still viable: I have proved this time and time again. It is an age-old skill that we must strive to keep alive. Dales ponies can turn their hoof to so many disciplines as they are agile and clever. These past years a special bond has developed with my ponies. When you are working alongside them day after day you get to know your animals very well. Dales are quick to learn and willing to please, they thrive on varied work and enjoy a challenge. A Dales that is naughty and stubborn is usually a bored pony with little to do: these quick-witted ponies need a job.

In this country we have wonderful native breeds. Most have played some part in the country’s development. They are part of our heritage and should be treasured. However for me it has to be a Dales pony, whether I am snigging timber, chain-harrowing the fields, taking a bride to the church or riding along the country lanes, it’s all in a ‘Dales’ work……

Charlie Parker