EPICENTRE - the newsletter for Exmoor Ponies in Conservation

Exmoor Ponies in Conservation Newsletter

Issue 1 Article 9


Since 1980 Exmoor National Park Authority has owned and bred two herd of its own indigenous pony breed, the Exmoor Pony. The Authority has done this as part of its commitment to supporting the breed and the aims of the Exmoor Pony Society and to encourage others to own and breed pure Exmoors. The NPA also helps to fund the free-living mare premium, issues moorland grazing licenses for herds or pure Exmoors and has donated cups for the Breed Champion at the Devon County Show and Ridden Champion at the Annual Breed Show, at Exford.

At present we run 26 ponies, mainly in our Warren and Haddon Herds, including a small number of fillies held separately until they reach the age of three or four, when they join one or other of the breeding herds. The Warren Herd was based upon Herd 23 bloodlines, the Haddon Herd based upon the Anchor Herd.

We are keen to support the breeding of moorland ponies on Exmoor and in appropriate locations elsewhere in Britain and abroad, as reserves of the genetic stock of the breed. We have supplied youngstock and ‘aunties’ to the National Trust, English Nature, various County Wildlife Trusts, Somerset County Council and private buyers. In the main these ponies have gone to act as conservation grazers, providing the double benefit of conserving a rare breed while pursuing environmental conservation objectives.

Although we encourage their use as riding, driving and family ponies, most of our progeny have been bought for conservation purposes, whether as breeding herds or groups of geldings and non-breeding mares. On the whole we have sold fillies to those who intend to breed from them, in order not to 'waste' breeding stock, and we have encouraged those who want to use them only for grazing to have colts and run them free, as geldings, which require less handling than mares and foals which need to go through the inspection procedure.

Exmoor Ponies on Exmoor are a fine sight. The NPA is committed to ensuring that both locals and visitors may continue to see these rare and beautiful creatures in their native habitat. We are also glad to support those who wish to help conserve and use this versatile and ancient breed in other parts of this country and further afield.

by Veryan Heal Warden Exmoor National Park