Rackwood Rambler
Rackwood Rambler in August 1983

 Rackwood Thistle at the FPS BReed show in 2000

Rackwood Thistle at the FPS Breed show in 2000

History of Rackwood Fell Ponies

My father, George Robert Coatsworth of East Rackwood Hill, Hamsterley near Bishop Auckland in County Durham, bought his first Fell pony in the spring of 1974. He had always been involved with horses and ponies through his work as a farmer and a father of five children who always had a pony to ride. This Fell pony was called Heltondale Dewdrop IV and was a two year old filly bred by the late Sarge Noble. My father registered the prefix "Rackwood" after the name of our home farm so that he could register Heltondale Dewdrop's offspring. In 1977 he registered Rackwood Queen followed in 1978 by Rackwood Dewdrop.

Queen and Dewdrop were handled and shown in-hand as youngsters and then broken to ride. They were regularly used to shepherd the sheep before becoming brood mares. Queen was sold in the autumn of 1989 but Dewdrop, who was a heavier and slightly taller pony, was kept and became a very successful brood mare.

 Rackwood Velvet at the Breed Show
Rackwood Velvet - Breed Champion at the FPS Breed show in 1986

My father, being a farmer, took great pleasure in breeding from his ponies so that they would pay for their keep. Dewdrop produced 12 healthy foals - 3 fillies and 9 colts. Her first filly foal, Rackwood Velvet, was well known for her show ring successes being Fell Pony Society Female Champion and Supreme Champion in 1986. Her last filly foal, Rackwood Maydew, is a prominent brood mare in the current (2010) herd.

Rackwood Dewdrop and Rackwood Velvet
Rackwood Dewdrop and Rackwood Velvet, September 1986

I, Eileen Walker (formerly Mothersole), worked with my father during the 1970s, 1980s and part of the 1990s handling and schooling the ponies to ride until he developed Rheumatoid Arthritis and became too disabled to continue showing the ponies. At this point I took over the everyday care and control of the Rackwood ponies at High Woodifield Farm East on the outskirts of Crook in County Durham.

Rackwood Royal
Rackwood Royal

The ponies continued to live on the edge of Hamsterley Forest but were transported to my home to be handled and schooled. In 1999 I began a new breeding programme and borrowed a stallion called Heltondale Bonzo Boy so that in 2000 two filly foals were born - Rackwood Magic and Rackwood Maydew. These two mares are the foundation brood mares of the current Rackwood herd.

Rackwood Robin at the Stallion Show in 2000
Rackwood Robin at the Stallion Show in 2000

Rackwood Magic has been extremely successful in the show ring being FPS Breed Show Female Champion in 2003 and FPS Breed Show Female Champion and Overall Supreme Champion in 2007 to name but a few. Rackwood Maydew has not been shown as much but has achieved Champion and Reserve Champion success at local show level.

When I moved to Abbots Close Farm, Fir Tree near Crook in County Durham where I have the land and facilities to expand the herd, my ambition was to increase the herd to 5 brood mares and a stallion, and that was achieved during 2010.

Rackwood Dewdrop was put to sleep in the autumn of 2008 and her daughter Rackwood Velvet died in June 2010. The current Rackwood herd are all descendants of Rackwood Dewdrop. I have never bought a female pony so I currently have four generations of Rackwood breeding.