Exmoor Ponies in Conservation Newsletter

Issue 2 Article 20

Tommy's Driving Lesson

Tommy (Tomahawk 2/44 ) was born and bred by Mary Etherington in the Pentland hills of Scotland in 1951 and sold to S.Y.H.A. as an unhandled 7yr old. He was broken and then ridden bareback by students of the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in the spring of 1958. In June he went off to the borders to spend his first season as a trekking pony at Broadmeadows and Snoot youth hostels. Tommy turned out to be a reliable riding pony, although his forte was as a splendid pack animal who didn't even require a lead rein. He behaved himself perfectly on the trek in just his first season. He carried all the necessities for 12-13 trekkers and instructors between the hostels, a distance of over 18 miles.

In winter '63 an old rallie car, suitable for an Exmoor, was purchased by the students and restored. Onaway 1/47 was trained to use it to transport luggage between the hostels. A West Highland pony , 'Prince' plus trap was used for this the previous year, but as the treks had now doubled, traps were stationed both at Broadmeadows and Snoot , crossing over every Tuesday and Friday.

The summer of '64 saw both ponies entered for the driving class in the Border Union Show at Kelso. The evening before, I drove a short distance outside Kelso to meet them and give directions to the livery stables which was to be their accommodation.

(photo by Alec Copland)

Prince and his rallie car passed me first, then round the corner came Onaway and his turnout, only it wasn't Onaway, it was Tommy between the shafts, trotting along the main road just as if he had been a driving pony all his life!

Thinking there had been a disaster with Onaway and the students had done some quick breaking in, I said 'What's wrong with Onaway?'. 'Nothing , he's been fine', came the puzzled answer. It transpired Tommy had been mis-identified, caught and harnessed. The only comment was that he had galloped off a bit at first. After he was pulled up with the rein he quietly walked through the gate with the rallie car, took them all the way from Snoot through Hawick and then 26 miles to Kelso with no problems. The next day Prince won first prize in the driving class and Tommy came third!

by Alec Copland.

Well nearly,

If you have been waiting patiently for this issue of Epicentre to find out whether or not Exmoors eat watercress and mushrooms .............the answer is..........YES THEY DO! (But they donít like the salad dressing)