The South Park Stud is the oldest registered herd of Shetland Ponies still in existence today and the only stud then or since to carry no prefix to the names of the ponies. It was started in the 1870s by the Ladies Estella and Dorothea Hope who kept and bred ponies at their family’s estate Hopetoun House in Scotland. They named their first purchases Jack and Jill in the innocent belief that they were male and female; a later inspection proved them both male but the names were kept and Jill (19) can be found as a stallion in the first Stud Book book and listed as a winner in 1871 at the Royal Agricultural Show at Islington. The foundation mare of the stud was a roan filly Hoplemuroma (130) from whom all the Fairy ponies descend today. Their foundation stock are direct ancestors of our ponies today and were registered in the first stud book, something no other stud existing today can claim. At the famous Londonderry 1899 dispersal sale the sisters bought some of the best lots including the stallion Odin (32) a foundation sire of many of the present South Park bloodlines and the multiple show ring winner Bretta (811).
In 1886 after the death of their father the ladies and their ponies moved to South Park, Robertsbridge in Sussex where they continued to breed and show ponies until the death of Lady Estella, aged 92 in 1952. Lady Estella was Vice President of the society in 1901 and President in 1902.
The Stud was inherited by Lady Estella’s great-niece Lady Joan Gore Langton who introduced the famous “Fairy” prefix that the ponies still carry. When Lady Joan inherited the ponies, house and park she recorded Lady Estella’s wish that the ponies would not be sold to people who did not appreciate their pedigrees and this is something we still try to follow today.
THE PONIES TODAY
Following the death of Lady Joan in 1989 the ponies passed to Countess De La Warr, Anne is Lady Joan’s niece by marriage, and the Stud was moved from Robertsbridge to Buckhurst, thereby continuing its unbroken family tradition. We still breed from exactly the same historic bloodlines and have seven “families”, the B, C, F, G, I, R, and V families. Two of the first ponies to arrive at Buckhurst were Coquilla (one of the last not to carry the Fairy prefix) and Fairy Chevette. Coquilla gave us a cream dun foal and later went back to Hopetoun where my eldest son now lives as a first pony for the grandchildren. Recently Fairy Chevette produced a filly foal a great achievement at the age of 28.
The South Park ponies had always been line bred, a few outcross stallions had been used but always with some South Park blood in their pedigrees and we have continued this policy trying to keep the distinctive ‘Fairy’ look - the white socks, small flashes of white on the body, pretty heads with large eyes, lovely colours and fluid movement and famous for it’s cream duns and skewbalds. Amongst the stallions we inherited was Fairy Flicker who proved to be a fantastic sire, producing bone, movement, colour and enchanting temperaments. Also Fairy Cockade, Fairy Viking, Fairy Bacchus and Fairy Crumb who were all elderly. We later brought back Fairy Flavian who was Fairy Flicker’s full brother who produced many fillies. Flicker sadly died that winter and Flavian was able to take on his mantle both as a sire and in the show ring.
We acquired some younger fillies including Brandon Feather, a daughter of Fairy Fashion and later Fairy Fuschia whose granddaughter Fairy Florissa is with us today. We also bought Biancha as we had no “B”. females, who had been used as a child’s pony and although at 20 she was a little old to start a career as a broodmare, she had two colts and finally a filly, Fairy Blossom who is a descendant of Lady Estella’s Bretta and we now have two daughters of Blossom and one granddaughter.
We believe that a good line bred pony is far more likely to breed a typey foal than one with no line breeding at all although a sensible outcross stallion is needed from time to time. We have found that by using outcross stallions with some South Park blood we get the foals we are looking for and we have recently used Kerswell Reggae whose dam is by Clarius one of Lady Estella’s stallions and who is a son of Ron of North-Wells who was Lady Joan’s principle outcross and inbred 2 x 2 to Thunder of Marshwood. The Marshwood Stud was another that used South Park blood to good effect and we used them to equally good effect. Also Tawna Tristan who is bred back to South Park on both his dam and sire lines. Fairy Footman, a son of Flavian, is closely line bred and only carries South Park bloodlines and is proving a useful sire. We use Fairy Vagabond, a son of Cockade who produces cream duns, continuing the tradition of this colour in the stud. We look forward to standing a Fairy Flicker grandson, Fairy Idaho, to keep the Flicker line going and we have a Fairy Cockade daughter who is producing fillies, his granddaughters Fairy Capella and Fairy Clara are both pure bred South Park ponies.