Dartmoor Commoners Council to get tough on breeders who flout its Code of Guidance designed to prevent over breeding on the moor

Individuals who own ponies running wild on Dartmoor are to face legal action from 1 January 2002 if they fail to comply with the Commoners Council’s Code of Guidance, which was set up to prevent over breeding on the moor.

The council’s new tough approach has been introduced following a public outcry about the possible RSPCA cull of Dartmoor ponies, which is expecting to be even greater than in previous years due to the knock-on effects of FMD.

John Hodge, chairman of the Commoners Council, explained: “Some commoners have been flouting the Code by turning unaccredited stallions out on the moor and leaving foals out with the mares after the 1 January. Any unaccredited stallions or foals found on the moor after 1 January will be impounded and the owners taken to court.”

The code has been in place since 1999, but has not previously been enforced by the Council. It states that all foals must be removed from the moor by 1 January each year to ensure weaning occurs and to allow the mares to recover before foaling down thefollowing year.

All colt foals have to be kept off the moor for two winters and are then inspected and branded before being returned to the moor. Stallions which are not accredited will not be branded and should not return to the moor.

The ILPH (International League for the Protection of Horses) supports the Commoners Council new tougher stance.

“Last year there was little or no demand for ponies and those sold were only fetching 50p,” explains Jeff Herrington, ILPH Field Officer for the South West. “It’s then left to the charities to pick up the pieces – unsold ponies were dumped by the side of the road, others ended up in garages and gardens on urban housing estates, rescued by well-meaning people with little or no knowledge of horse welfare.”

“Now that the Commoners Council is to enforce their powers this will mean that in three or four years time we will finally start to see ponies produced that will have a market value.”