Controversy grows over the fate of ponies sold at the autumn Dartmoor auctions after more than 100 ponies are bought as “grasscutters”

Concern about the fate of ponies bred on Dartmoor continues after a sheep dealer, whose farms were at the forefront of the Devon FMD outbreak, bought more than 120 ponies from the autumn Dartmoor auctions.

William Cleave claimed the ponies were not destined for slaughter, telling Horse & Hound magazine that he wanted them to run on 1,300 acres that he cannot restock with sheep because of the movement restrictions.

He described the ponies as “grasscutters”, but said he may sell some as “Christmas presents”, while some of the colt foals may need to be culled to prevent inbreeding.

A spokesman from equine welfare organisation the International League for the Protection of Horses, said: “The ILPH is against ponies being given as Christmas presents. There are enough unwanted ponies in the world without more being dumped on the market when the craze wears off. Horse and pony ownership is a big responsibility and should only be undertaken by those who know about horse welfare and care.”

Read full story in today’s (15 November) Horse & Hound, or click here to subscribe at a special pre-Christmas rate.