Photography exhibit about Fell Ponies hoping to raise awareness about the endangered species

  • Report by Fiona Marley-Patterson

Its hoped a new photography exhibition about fell ponies will raise awareness about the breed.

The ponies have been in Cumbria and southern Scotland since before Roman times. The fell ponies in Cumbria are only semi-wild and they're now an endangered species.

The exhibition at Watermillock opened yesterday.

Ruth Chamberlain's photos are included - she says they need protecting for the future.

Ruth works closely with Fell Pony breeder Libby Robinson.

Libby Robinson, Fell Pony Breeder

Libby Robinson said: "There are only about 6,500 fell ponies in the world and 200 breeding mares are here on the Cumbrian fells. And although they live in the wild they're not wild, they are all owned.

"They are even-tempered, i.e. they have nice characters, they're kind, they're gentle once they're trained. Now their coats protect them from the weather as well because the wolds - like our fingerprint - go in the right direction to make the water from the rain just pour off their bodies.

As well as the exhibition, there are plans to create a heritage centre dedicated to preserving the animals and showcasing their historic connection to the county.

The aim of the potential heritage centre is to be a living museum and a visitor attraction. It will enable visitors to learn about Fell Pony history and to see them in their natural environment.

It will enable them to observe daily demonstrations of working Fell ponies and to participate in other activities such as going out for a carriage ride or a walk with a pack pony on the historic Cumbrian packhorse and drover trails.