EXMOOR National Parks Authority has launched an investigation into the death of a pony in a stampede in July.
Eight ponies — normally handled by park staff on horseback — were frightened into a stampede by rangers on a quad bike and in a four-wheel drive car who were trying to round them up.
An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “It was absolutely disgusting. They came galloping out of the field and straight on to the road.”
He said the pony who died tried to hurdle a barbed wire fence and broke a leg.
“I’ve lived on Exmoor all my life and I’ve never seen them moved with anything but other horses,” he told H&H.
“I asked the guy in charge what he was doing and he said he didn’t know a lot about Exmoor ponies. He seemed to think it was a success as he only lost one.”
Exmoor National Park Authority staff were moving the ponies back to their normal grazing pasture at Haddon Hill from a field at Bury Hill.
Spokesman for Exmoor National Park Authority, Clare O’Connor, said: “We do this a couple of times a year with two or three herds. It’s just one of those unfortunate things.
“The ponies were collected by national park authority staff, supported by a local landowner and two community support officers to assist with traffic control. As the ponies were being herded out of the field, they bolted.
“A vet from the Dulverton Veterinary Practice was called and recommended that one pony should be destroyed.”
She said the national park authority regrets the incident and will carry out a review.
Exmoor ponies are classed as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. There are less then 500 breeding mares worldwide.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (21 August, ’08)