Monday, 22 February 2016

Dartmoor Ponies

These are such lovely looking ponies, I always wanted one when I started riding!

Dartmoor ponies have lived on the moors in Devon for thousands of years.  The moors are rugged, bleak and windswept and mostly over 1000 feet high.  The ponies, as you would expect, are tough, hardy and enduring. 


Dartmoor ponies were used in medieval times for carrying tin from the mines.  Later they were used for pulling carts, carrying loads and for milk or post deliveries.  When the ponies were crossed with Shetland ponies they produced really strong ponies suitable for working in the coal mines. 

At the end of the 19th century Dartmoor ponies were finally recognised as a native breed.  In 1899 the National Pony Society created a Dartmoor section and this meant that the breed standard has remained relatively unaltered.  At the beginning of the 20th century some Arab and some Welsh blood was introduced.  During the World Wars numbers plummeted, after that time the ponies were inspected and registered and numbers increased.  In the 1950's there were about 30,000 ponies on the moor.  However, now there are only about 3000 - 5000.

The Dartmoor ponies are not wild animals as they all have owners.  Farms have the 'right to graze' on particular areas and the farmers brand their ponies.  The ponies live out all year round mostly in small herds of mares with one stallion and some young ponies.  Late in September or early October the farmers round up the ponies using horses, quad bikes or on foot.  The ponies are separated according to their owners and the ponies are all checked over and any treatment is given.  Old or sick ponies are separated as are any to be sold, before the others are returned to the moor.

Dartmoor ponies are now seen in the USA, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.  They are often crossed with other breeds to create riding ponies.

Height: 11.1hh - 12.2hh

Colour:  Black, Bay or Brown and sometimes Grey, Chestnut or Roan.  Few white markings as part of the breed.

Conformation:  Fine and pretty heads with large intelligent eyes but small pricked ears.  The neck is set high and they have a good front with sloping shoulders.  The body is short and compact with a deep rib cage.  Dartmoor ponies have strong quarters and a well set tail.  The legs are strong with short cannon bones  and hard feet.  These ponies have full and flowing mane and tails.  

Temperament:  They have excellent temperaments and are sensible, alert and kind.  Dartmoor ponies are reliable, gentle and calm. 

Dartmoor ponies are ideal first ponies for children and are great for hacking and jumping.  They are sure footed and have a relatively high head carriage which both help children to feel secure.  They are good looking ponies and are great for dressage, driving and hunting too.

Aren't they gorgeous!

The Dartmoor Pony Society Website:

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