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Horse Breeds
First Posted June 26, 2009
Sep 18, 2010

Farnley Ponies

by Debora Johnson

Oliver Twist/Kate's Farnley Pony/Image ©Debora Johnson/HorseHints.org

Country of Origin: United States

Joan Dunning, Farnley Farm in West Post, Virginia, is well known for her meticulous breeding of Welsh, Dartmoor, and cross-blood ponies. In 1936 she went to England where she looked for ponies with an eye for breeding. Mrs. Dunning started with Dartmoors, three Welsh mares, and three leading stud bloodlines: Bowdler, Criban, and Coed Coch. The Dartmoor pony was first introduced to North America and Canada in the 1930's. Due to extensive cross-breeding, however, the pure bloodlines began to disappear. Through the dedicated efforts of Mrs. Joan Dunning of White Post, Virginia, the purebred Dartmoor was preserved in the United States. Mrs. Dunning's first Dartmoors arrived at her Farnley Farm in 1936. Mrs. Dunning, as well as her daughter, Mrs. Hetty Abeles, are still among the leading breeders and supporters of Dartmoor ponies today.

It is helpful to have knowledge of the other breeds that were used in the cross breeding by Joan Dunning, the Welsh and the Dartmoor. The Dartmoor Pony in my Breeds Section "The Dartmoor is an ancient breed originating on the moorlands of Devon in southwest England. Through the centuries, the rough, rocky terrain and sparse grazing produced a sure-footed, strong and hardy pony quite capable of excelling in any number of pursuits. His wonderfully calm temperament and friendly nature make him an excellent choice for adults and children alike. His well laid back shoulder and his long, low stride provide a smooth and comfortable ride for showing, hunting or trail riding. His good looks, pleasant manner and brave nature also make him an excellent candidate for both pleasure and competitive driving...Although still considered a rare breed, the population of this quiet, dependable pony has been growing steadily here in the United States. Recently there have been a number of quality imports from England as more people have become interested in breeding and owning Dartmoors. To the delight of Dartmoor admirers, this small and versatile breed of pony is enjoying a genuine resurgence in this country." Dartmoor Pony Registry of America

Farnley Sirius, the first stallion, was the first foal born in 1938. More Welsh mares were brought in because there were precious few in the United States at that time. The time frame was 1946 at the end of WW I. From that point, Joan Dunning's dream began to become reality. Today, she has managed to have bred the very best ponies. She has made a place for herself in history. For more internet information on the Farnley Pony.

Bruce Smart, in his book, A Community of the Horse, Stakes and Shareholders, has several sections on Joan Dunning and West Post Farm, including an interview with her.

Our two horses are stabled with a Farnley Pony, Oliver Twist. "Olllie," as we call him, belongs to the owner of the property. He is a beautiful bay roan. His temperament is delightful. Oliver has a personality that precedes him. Twist is bold, loving, alert, smart, well conformed and willing. He is everything that anyone could want in an equine. Just a note here about Ollie's lineage. Ollie is a Farnley-Welsh and Thoroughbred mix. Oliver Twist has reached 14.1 hh. We are all waiting, watching, smiling, and loving on him! He is growing up.

Update: Olliver is full grown now. He is 4.2 hh a perfect size for a Farnley Pony. He has a sweet nature and is like a very large dog! If he could he would cuddle up in your lap and eat treats. He is smart and willing. He wants to please. Ollie is going to make Kate a fine animal. This Spring she intends to start more intensive training with him. I believe she might be thinking about eventing him.

For a full article on the Welsh Pony: Welsh Cob and Welsh Mountain Pony

For More Information:

BloodHorse - Pony Power
Dartmoor Pony Registry of America

Horse Breeds