Wednesday, 12 November 2014

First off, I'm sorry I have been away for so long, but I'm back now and will try and be more regular with the posts...I have a lot of photos to post !

I wanted to share a few more photos of Dartmoor ponies, as I have a few nice ones of some pedigree registered Dartmoor ponies.

Dartmoor pony 

As I explained in my last few posts there are different types of ponies running on Dartmoor national park.  Whereas the Dartmoor hill ponies are all different shapes, sizes, and colours the ponies that are bred and registered as pedigree Dartmoor ponies by the Dartmoor pony society are all bred to a certain standard.
 Dartmoor pony
Their height should not be more than 12.2hh, their colours are bay, brown, black, grey, chestnut and roan.  Piebalds and Skewbalds are not allowed.  Excessive white markings are discouraged.  They should be sturdily built, but with quality.
Full breed standard here

Dartmoor pony foal

The pedigree pure bred Dartmoor is not so often seen on the commons beacuse they are too valuable to be left out, and also to prevent uncontrolled breeding with non-registered animals, but there are some especially if you know where to look.  I got some insider knowledge of where to find some from Lowertown Farm because they breed pedigree and heritage Dartmoor ponies, and keep a few out on the moors.

They told me where I might find some of their ponies, so I went in search of them.  After struggling through lots of gorse and bracken I found them !

Mare and foal

These wonderful little ponies are still on the endangered breeds list at the moment, but let's hope that with some successful breeding they will be able to come off that list.

Please click on the photos to see them larger.  
And don't forget you can check out my Etsy shop to buy prints and canvas of my horse and pony photos.


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dartmoor hill ponies

 Dartmoor hill pony and foal

Apparently, over two thousand years ago, Phoenician traders introduced ponies to the West Country. These original ponies evolved into two distinct breeds, the Exmoor and the Dartmoor.

The ponies now native to Dartmoor have adapted to suit whichever part of the Moor they live on. The colours are mainly bay, grey, chestnut and black, with some coloured ponies and even some spotted ponies.

Just over one hundred years ago, the pony breeders showed a split into two categories. One group began to concentrate on selectively breeding for the show ring with strict breed standards.  The other group bred more for usefulness and suitability for various kinds of work.

 Dartmoor hill pony

The mining industry found the native Dartmoors very useful, and crossed them with Shetland ponies for working underground. The farming industry required a sturdy weight-carrying pony, so ponies who were strong and had good depth of bone were chosen as breeding stock.  And when they were needed to be more sporty, for example as polo ponies, they were bred with arabs and thoroughbreds.  They have been used as riding ponies and driving ponies.

Dartmoor hill pony

So with all these different bloodlines that have been introduced it means there is a great variety of ponies on the moors today.  The common characteristics hardiness and good temperament. have remained the same though.

Dartmoor hill pony

Only a pony that has been bred on the commons of Dartmoor, by a registered Commoner, and whose sire and dam run on the Commons, is a Dartmoor Hill Pony.

Dartmoor hill pony

These are all photos I took on Dartmoor, showing the variety of different types and colours of Dartmoor hill pony.  Please click on the photos to see them larger.

More info on Dartmoor hill ponies here:

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Different types of ponies on Dartmoor

I have had a lot to learn about the ponies living on Dartmoor - I thought, probably like many people that there was just one type living feral there, but there are actually several different types.  Here is an overview:

 A coloured Dartmoor hill pony

Dartmoor was designated a National Park in 1951, but there have been ponies there a lot longer.   Ponies help to give Dartmoor its unique character and are one of the attractions for visitors to the area. They are an integral part of the moorland landscape and are a part of the area’s cultural heritage. Ponies are also important for conservation grazing particularly on certain habitats such as wet permanent pasture.

There are many ponies living feral on the moors, but there are several different types - it's quite confusing !

Firstly, there is the pedigree Dartmoor pony - this is the true to type Dartmoor Pony with known breeding and is recognised as a vulnerable breed by the Rare breeds society .  These are the Dartmoor pony breed that you will see being shown at pony shows.  They are represented by the Dartmoor pony society, have a strict breed standard, and are bred selectively, so that they have become more refined !  You will not see many of these running free on the moors.

Dartmoor hill ponies

Secondly, are the ones you will see most often - these are known as Dartmoor hill ponies.  Only a pony that has been bred on the commons of Dartmoor, by a registered Commoner, and whose sire and dam run on the Commons, is a Dartmoor Hill Pony.

There are many variations of colour and type of Dartmoor hill pony, but they are all hardy and can survive on the moors all year round.  There are some that are Small and round like Shetland types, there is the coloured type, spotty type and the classic Dartmoor type.
Classic Dartmoor type hill pony

Third, there is the Heritage Dartmoor pony.  This is where certain unregistered, but true to type Hill Ponies are given Heritage Trust List (HTL) status.  HTL status was granted several years ago to The Dartmoor Heritage Trust, a charity not connected with the Dartmoor Pony Society, to allow farmers on Dartmoor to obtain payments to assist them to retain their unregistered but true to type herds on the Moor.

They remain unregistered, but can if approved and they meet certain criteria enter the Dartmoor Pony Society/Duchy of Cornwall Upgrading Scheme.  This is where several generations of Heritage pony are bred with a pure bred stallion, and if they pass inspection they can become registered as a pedigree Dartmoor !

After scrabbling through lots of gorse and bracken I found these two young ponies, along with a mare and foal - they belong to Lowertown farm.  The one on the right is a pedigree Dartmoor, and the one on the left is a pedigree X heritage pony.

More to come about the lovely Dartmoor and Hill ponies in the next few blogs, so be sure to check back.

Please click on the photos to see them larger.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Get an Exmoor pony !!

Shy Exmoor pony

What is the future like for these wonderful British native ponies that are classed as a rare breed?  Hopefully, they have a positive future, along with all other British native breeds of ponies and other animals.  We need people to realise how wonderful these little ponies are.

Exmoor pony in sepia

They make lovely children's ponies, but can also be ridden by small adults as they are very strong.   They are very hardy and can live out all year round, so they are easy to care for. They are very intelligent and fun to ride.  Exmoor ponies are also very adaptable to most disciplines, ridden and non ridden.

One thing these ponies are excelling at is horse agility, which is a very fun thing to do with your pony.  Last year Bear - a most gorgeous Exmoor stallion won the horse agility world championship.  Take a look at this amazing video of him at play, with his owner Dawn Westcott.

Exmoor pony

Thankfully people are realising their worth for another job, which hopefully will help secure their future too.  They are being used for conservation grazing.  What is conservation grazing?  Whole herds of varying numbers are used for managing interesting landscapes in a low intensive way to encourage the wildlife and plants that these areas support. Sites need grazing to remove the scrub and rough grasses.  More info here from the Moorland Mousie trust that have ponies available for this job.

Conservation grazing

There are quite a few sites around Britain that are using Exmoors for this as they are an excellent choice for the job.  Read about one of the sites in the South Downs where they are using Exmoor ponies for conservation grazing.

If you are loving the Exmoor ponies and would like to read more about them there is a really good blog you can follow:

Exmoor pony blog

And there is a particularly heartwarming story about the rescue of an orphaned foal on Exmoor here:

Monsieur Chapeau

Please click on the photos to see them larger.
Next blog will be about the lovely little Dartmoor ponies !