Top honours for Dales Pony breeders from Middleton-in-Teesdale
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
A STUD from Teesdale is celebrating after sweeping the board at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s pony of the year show.
David and Alison Eccles’ dales pony Westwick Polly crowned a spectacular year for their Westwick stud after the mare was judged champion at the show, staged at Arena UK, in Grantham, on Saturday, October 5.
The ten-year-old was judged ahead of breeds such as Hackney, Highland, Cleveland Bay and Clydesdale horses.
The Middleton-in-Teesdale stud’s successful 2019 kicked off with Westwick Hamish being crowned champion at the Dales Pony Society’s (DPS) Spring Stallion Show, at Streatlam, near Barnard Castle.
They followed this with dales pony championship titles at Brough, Wolsingham, Stanhope, Crosby Ravens-worth, Appleby and Ryedale shows.
Mr Eccles attributes the success of his animals to the way they have been reared.
He said: “They are hardy and low maintenance.
“We let them grow up naturally with not too much protein. They do mature late.
“They need time – but nobody has time these days. They want it tomorrow.”
He added: “We just keep on with what we’ve always done. We don’t change.
“We have six home-bred stallions and I am still looking for more bloodlines, but I don’t seem to find any other bloodlines that are suitable.”
Mrs Eccles added that there is concern about the dales pony gene pool because of the rarity of the breed.
The Eccles took five ponies – three mares and two fillies – to Grantham with all of the animals performing extremely well.
They took first, second and third place in the mare class with Westwick Polly, Westwick Jessica and Westwick Heather respectively.
They also secured first and second places in the young-stock class.
In addition to being overall rare breed champion, Westwick Polly won the traditional ridden class before going on to be supreme reserve ridden Dales Pony,
Mr Eccles said: “We have done well. She [Westwick Polly] stood out a mile. We had people from the [rare breeds] trust coming over. They appreciated the ponies were traditional.
“They were surprised by the true dales’ movement and action. It was quite an accolade really to win above all the other breeds.
“The Hackneys men commented on how well our mares look.”
Mrs Eccles added: “We have had a successful year and that was the icing on the cake. It feels really good. It feels like all the hard work and commitment has been worthwhile. It is a positive thing for the breed to make more people take a look at them.”
While the Eccles were enjoying success at Grantham, two of the horses they bred and sold on were preforming well at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) at the NEC, in Birmingham. Westwick Duke was runner up in the Dales Pony class while Westwick Victor secured an eighth spot.
Westwick stud will now rest for the winter as they prepare for next season, beginning once again with the DPS Spring Stallion Show.