In the Beginning by Victoria Tollman 5/26/2021
1950's - 1980's
The original importation of registered Fell ponies to North America came not to the America's, but to Ontario, Canada in the 1950’s by way of a high-profile Thoroughbred breeder named E.P. Taylor. Taylor’s “Windswept” farm was best known for homebred stallion 1964 Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer. Taylor used Fell pony mares as “nurse mares” to raise his fractious TB foals because the mares were calm, attentive, lactated well, and were accepting of the foster foals while the TB dams stayed in production for more racehorses. Fell pony filly foals were retained to replenish Taylor’s nurse mares; Fell colts were gelded and sold. While Windswept records show Taylor produced more than 2 dozen Fell foals between 1967 and 1984 from his two imported stallions, tragically none of the Fell foals were ever registered.
By the late 1980’s, the breed had captured the attention of two American farms who became the first importers of registered stock to the USA: prefix NewFarm / Mary & Lyle Nygaard of South Florida and prefix Midnightvalley / Carolyn Sharp Handeland of Colorado. By the mid-1990’s, these two breeders had approximately 20 ponies between them including imports and foals bred.
1990 - 1999
Enter BroughHill/Victoria Tollman (FL and later NC) to the American Fell community. Tollman spent a couple years researching the breed and visiting both existing breeders before establishing her breeding program in1995 in Florida under the BroughHill prefix. BroughHill’s first foal was born in 1999, the same year BroughHill bred 4 outside mares with Newfarm bred stallion for three soon-to-be-breeders – Deerstones/Joan O’Brien (Ontario), Mustahevonen / Wendy Ihlang (Washington State), and Kelmscott / Kelmscott Rare Breed Farm (Maine).
With three breeders on the map and a half dozen in the wings, there was a need for a networking group. In 1999 the Fell Pony Conservancy of the Americas was born. Because the Fell Pony was new to North America, the breeders of the FP Conservancy support group wanted to be sure the traditional Fell Pony of Northern England was kept true to type and characteristics. The group focused on education, conservation, preservation, networking and marketing were all top priorities
2000 - ...
The first decade of the new millennium saw the two original American importers, Newfarm and Midnightvalley eventually sell out and retire leaving BroughHill to carry the torch. A flurry of over a dozen breeders followed during the next 10 years. Two new farms became major breeders and importers – Mary Jean Gould-Early/ LaurelHighland (PA) who bought out the remainder of the Newfarm/Nygaard’s South Florida breeding herd, and began importing her own producing foals beginning in 2000, and Karen Sorenson & Shannon Albert / Stonecreek (TX) who also began importing, producing foals beginning in 2004. Both LaurelHighland and Stonecreek farms would go on to produce a record number of purebred foals and be responsible for spreading Fell ponies across America.
Other early breeder/importers of note include Dr. Alison Emslie-Smith/Garrighyl (MN) whose first foals arrived 2004, and Cheryl & Richard Dutton/Braeberry (OR) in 2005, and Heather Kyle/ ScafellPike (KY), Rene Bender/ FellLegend (OR), Elise Miller /Moonlit Fell Pony (WA), Jenifer Morrissey/Willowtrail Fell Pony (CO/SD) and Melissa Kreuzer/ Dream Hayven (TN)
With the importation of some 70 ponies and the production of 40+ foals recorded between 1999 and 2003, the North American Fell pony population jumped from 20 in the mid-1990’s to over 100 by 2003.
2011 - Present
This is an ongoing timeline, and we look forward to input and updates from the community
This doubling trend continued and by 2011 the NA census was approaching 350, nearly doubling again by 2017 reaching 600.
During the early millennium two North American support groups emerged and were simultaneously approved and affiliated in 2004 as FPS Overseas Branches by the mother registry, the UK’s Fell Pony Society – Fell Pony Society & Conservancy of the Americas and the Fell Pony Society of North America. The Fell Pony Conservancy was more focused on conservation, preservation, and conservation; the FPSNA became more focused on presentation, promotion, and competitions. Between the two, the FPS Overseas Branches cemented the growth, marketing, and protection of the traditional Fell Pony in North America for the next two decades.