A campaign has been launched against the hot branding of Exmoor ponies multiple times.

Exmoors can be given several brands, including the Exmoor star, herd and animal number.

The campaign by Exmoor pony producer Dawn Westcott calls for ponies that are not going back on to the moor not to be branded at all.

She also wants the number of brands on the other Exmoors, and all equine breeds, to be cut down.

More than 11,000 people have signed the petition.

“Branding domestic ponies and those coming off the moors and not going back, should be stopped,” said Mrs Wescott.

“There is no justification for putting as many as seven marks on Exmoor pony foals.

Hot branding should only be used where it is necessary for welfare and management.”

But a spokesman for the Exmoor Pony Society said: “Moorland ponies quite often have successful showing careers as youngsters and then return to the moor to breed because of the importance of their bloodlines.

“Hot branding, when requested by the breeder or owner of the pony, remains the most practical solution for visual identification.”

Hot branding was banned in Scotland last year.

Vet Keith Chandler, from Kessock Equine in Inverness, said: “As far as I’m aware, there’s been no negative feedback from breed societies.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (5 July 2012)