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Dartmoor Ponies

The Dartmoor Pony has lived on Dartmoor for many years and is related to the Exmoor Pony. Dartmoor Ponies were used to haul tin from the mines and abandoned to roam free on the moors after the mines ceased to be productive and closed.

Ponies have long been on Dartmoor. They have wandered on Dartmoor since prehistoric times, and perhaps before that. The dartmoor pony is still an important part of the life of the moorland, the Dartmoor Pony is an indigenous breed now considered rare because there are less than 850 breeding mares left.

You are quite likely to see the native Dartmoor pony on the moor but there are some pure bred \ registered Dartmoor Ponies, they are similar to the native Dartmoor pony but have a known pedigree, the stallion is chosen for its good and known breeding, and is introduced to the mare in a controlled environment. The pure-bred pony also tends to be more refined than the native.

The ponies on the moor are all owned by somebody, local farms on Dartmoor have grazing rights for a number of cattle, sheep and ponies on the commons. Farmers brand their ponies, making ear cuts or using ear tags to verify the animal’s owner. Dartmoor ponies live out on the moor all year round.  They spend most of the time in small herds of mares with one adult stallion and young ponies, foals are born between May and August

For many centuries dartmoor ponies have lived, bred and run free on Dartmoor. Each year in the autumn the ponies are rounded up or drifted from the Moor. The foals are weaned and some are offered for sale. Should you purchase a pony from the commons you will have a pony of good temperament, the makings of a child’s pony or driving pony or, perhaps above all, the best of family friends.
However, before purchasing a pony the following advice may be of help, as ponies are expensive animals to keep, particularly as poniescan live as long as 40 years! Moorland ponies
are semi-feral and have rarely been handled; this makes them potentially unsuitable for those with little experience of horses. If you are inexperienced in purchasing ponies, it is
advisable to take an expert with you for advice.The first decision to be made when considering buying a pony are the costs involved; these are outlined below.

Looking after your Dartmoor pony

Dartmoor ponies kept at grass should be checked at least twice a day for health and any signs of injury.

A sheltered area should be available, either man-made or natural, and the paddock shouldbe a suitable size, depending on the quality of the grass. The grass supply should be restricted
if it is too lush, especially in the spring, because ponies can become very ill from eating too muchrich grass, especially if they are not used to it. It is good practice to ‘rest’ grassland by dividing
up the field and rotating the grazing of each section. All fencing should be adequate and safe, especially since moorland ponies are particularly nimble and are likely to be unsettled
initially. Clean water should always be available. Remember, most ponies sold at markets are under one year old and will not be able to be ridden until they are about four years old.
Until this time, regular handling will make it less wary of humans when it comes to be trained for riding. Training, known as breaking, requires experience, skill and specific equipment
and should be carried out by an expert to be successful. Once broken, the pony will still be very inexperienced and is unlikely to be suitable for a child or novice rider for some time.
A badly broken pony can be a danger to both rider and public and is very unlikely to have a secure and happy future. If you follow the advice set out in this
information sheet, and do decide to purchase a pony, you will have invested in a pony that should provide an ideal, and reliable companion for any child, and should prove to be excellent
value for money as well.There are some local based groups that can assist in the purchase of ponies kept on the commons of Dartmoor.

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