Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Exmoor Ponies

I always thought that Fidget might have some Exmoor blood in him as he had some of their characteristics! 

The Exmoor pony is thought to be the last survivor of the original Celtic ponies.  This breed was first recorded in the Doomsday book in 1086!  Native to Great Britain there are many still living semi-wild on the moors of the South West of Devon and Somerset.  They contribute to the management and conservation of these moors but are another endangered breed. 

The Exmoor ponies have developed into a hardy breed able to survive the harshest of winters. They are very strong ponies and can carry weights much larger than other ponies.  They are tough and hardy and have amazing endurance.

Equine fossil remains have been found in the Exmoor area which have been dated back to 50,000BC and many Roman carvings depict ponies that look similar to the Exmoor.  Ponies taken from the moor in 1818 formed  the 'Anchor herd' for today's Exmoor breed.  In the late 1800's Exmoor ponies and their crossbreeds began to be registered with the National Pony Society.  They were often used as 'pit ponies'.

After the Second World War the Exmoor nearly became extinct because soldiers used them as target practice and they were stolen for meat.  Numbers went as low as 50 but luckily they were saved and then during the 1950's started to be exported to North America!

In 1963 the Exmoor Pony Society was formed.  The 1990's brought the establishment of small herds of Exmoors in various areas of England where they are used to maintain and manage nature reserves.


Height: up to 12.3hh

Colour:  Bay, Brown, and Mousy Dun.

Conformation:  Small head with an oatmeal coloured muzzle and black nostrils. The oatmeal colour (mealy) is also found around the eyes, flanks and under the belly.  They have small ears and the eyes are slightly 'hooded'  called a toad eye which helps deflect water.  The coat is thick, springy and rough for protection during the harsh winters - it is unlike any other equine coat.  The Exmoor ponies also have good sloping shoulders and a deep girth.  The back is short and broad and the quarters strong.  Their legs are also short but with good bone and strong feet.  These ponies have a distinctive 'fan' at the top of their tails which again helps to deflect water away.  They are strong ponies in comparison to their height and are known for their endurance and hardiness.  

Temperament: Good temperament and intelligent.  They can be independent and willfull!

Exmoor's make excellent children's ponies, although, they can be difficult if not managed correctly. They are used for showing, long distance and driving in addition to managing moorland! 

This is another breed we must not allow to die out!

The Exmoor Pony Society Website:  http://www.exmoorponysociety.org.uk/index.html

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Until next time!

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