There is no more iconic sight on Dartmoor than a herd of ponies grazing together, with stunning, majestic Dartmoor as their backdrop. They have been here a long time, hoof prints found on Dartmoor during an archaeological dig were found to be 3,500 yrs old!
Written records of ponies on the moor go back as far as AD1012, and in the mid 1800s ponies were used to transport granite from the moorland quarries.
In 1950 there were around 30,000 ponies on the moor, now we only have approximately 1500, and only a small proportion of these are the pedigree Dartmoor Ponies.
All the ponies are owned by various Dartmoor Commoners, (the farmers and residents of the Moor who have grazing rights on the open moor), and with these rights comes the responsibility of seeing that the herds of ponies are kept healthy. Many groups of ponies from Dartmoor are now being used in Conservation Projects all over the UK.
Read more www.dartmoorcommonerscouncil.org.uk/
If you see a pony (or any other livestock) is injured or ill, please call the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer on 07873 587561 Read more www.dlps.org.uk/
PLEASE...do not feed or pet the ponies, they may kick or bite no matter how adorable they are!
ABOUT THE PONIES
The ponies are very hardy and actually thrive on Dartmoor despite the harsh weather and poor vegetation. In fact, by grazing the moor they play a vital role in maintaining a variety of habitats and supporting wildlife. Most have not been handled, so you should not approach them too closely, or feed them. Because of their calm temperament, strength and sure-footedness, the ponies have been used for many purposes over the years, which has led to the breeding of the different types seen on the moor today. They have been used for riding and driving, pit ponies, shepherding, taking the family to market or even carrying the postman delivering mail.
Purebred Dartmoor Ponies
Pedigree Dartmoor Ponies are registered with the Dartmoor Pony Society and are now sadly on the Endangered Breeds List, which is held by Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
There are studs breeding purebred ponies on Dartmoor, and all over the world because of their wonderful temperaments, hardiness and beauty. They have the metabolism to prosper in tough and uncompromising conditions, and have an exceptional temperament. They must not be bigger than 12.2hands high and be solid colours only.
Read more www.dartmoorponysociety.com/
Dartmoor Heritage Ponies
Traditional ‘Heritage’ ponies are bred on the open moor and have the same colouring, conformation, size and colouring as registered Dartmoor ponies.
Tough, hardy, sure footed with fabulous temperaments, they can survive the harshest of moorland conditions. You can visit the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust at Parke in Bovey Tracey to learn more about them and see the wonderful work the ponies do with special needs students, and as conservation grazers.
Read more www.dpht.co.uk/
Dartmoor Hill Ponies
The Hill Ponies are a type of pony, not a breed and are not on the endangered breed list, but they are tough, hardy and clever, coming in all shapes, sizes and colours including skewbald and piebald. If a pony is born on Dartmoor, and it’s parents live on the moor, it can be classed as a Dartmoor Hill Pony.
These ponies have struggled over recent years to find homes, leading to several rescue societies having to be set up. But the good news now is that there are some specialist training centres who are buying the foals direct from the Dartmoor farmers at drift time, then educating and gentling them so that they can go on to be superb little riding, show or companion ponies.
One such organisation is Dartmoor Hill Pony Promotions, with their Southmoor ponies.
You can see their expert and successful training methods here - Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Dartmoor-Hill-Pony-Promotions-861090007234488/timeline/
or by visiting their website at - http://lynn155.wix.com/southmoorponies
We are featuring the progress of two of the Southmoor ponies (Selina and Pocket Rocket) here on the website at - www.visitdartmoor.co.uk/explore-dartmoor/dartmoor-animal-life/dartmoor-hill-pony-promotions
Shetlands were introduced in the early 20th century when they were crossed with moorland ponies to produce small, tough animals capable of working down the mines of northern England and Wales.There are many groups of these tiny, hardy and immensely strong ponies all over the moor, many of them are piebalds and skewbalds.