The strong & hardy rare breed Exmoor Pony has been a familiar sight up on the heather moorlands of Exmoor for as long as anyone can remember. They were even mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The UK’s oldest breed of native pony has changed little from the original and their highly insulated winter coats are perfectly adapted to the vagaries of our weather. Semi-feral, you can spot them high on the moors. Or get closer at the Exmoor Pony Centre, HQ of The Moorland Mousie Trust, a charity that works for the welfare and promotion of the ponies, and runs events throughout the year from its base on the moors just outside Dulverton.
GUARDIANS OF THE BREED
A registered charity, the Exmoor Pony Society was set up in 1921 by moorland farmers for the registration of pure-bred Exmoor ponies, the conservation of the breed and the preservation of the breed standard with the aim of maintaining this important part of Exmoor's heritage.
Almost a century later, despite numbers dropping to just 50 at the end of the Second World War, the Exmoor Pony can still be seen in its natural habitat. The Society holds the official stud book and today there are some 4000 Exmoor ponies although, because of its small genetic pool, the Exmoor Pony is on the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s Watchlist in Category 2.
There are currently 500 ponies running in 21 moorland herds on different commons throughout the Exmoor National Park – the rest of the population is located throughout the UK, Europe and North America. Maintaining the genetic pool both on and off the moor is essential to the long-term conservation of the breed and a safeguard should an equine disease strike the moorland ponies. The Society also promotes the ponies to the general public attending events, holding shows and clinics and is a lead organiser of the Exmoor Pony Festival each August.
You can learn more about the breed by visiting our website www.exmoorponysociety.org.uk and you can follow the ponies and find out on where you can see an Exmoor pony both on and off the moor on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheExmoorPonySociety?ref=hl – there might be a pony near you!
For information on the moorland herds visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Exmoor-Committee-Of-Herd-Owners-ECHO/471197259678343?ref=hl and if you are interested in seeing one of the autumn gatherings as featured on Countryfile or buying a pony then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on the Exmoor Pony Festival please visit https://exmoorponyfestival.wordpress.com