The Dartmoor Pony Society hasreceived a £1,500 award from DEFRA to look into ways to safeguard the future of the traditional Dartmoor-type moor ponies.
Over the years, unregistered ponies of “true” Dartmoor type have increasingly been replaced by cross-breeds, threatening the future of the Dartmoor type.
Elizabeth Newbolt-Young, of the Shilstone Rocks Dartmoor pony stud, says: “These traditional moor ponies are unique. They are not bred anywhere else and once they’ve gone, we’ll never get them back.”
According to Elizabeth, ponies with strong “Dartmoor” characteristics share the same ancestry as many registered ponies. She also believes the introduction of cross-bred ponies has made “true” Dartmoors less popular and ultimately threatens their existence.
“I am deeply concerned that the traditional Dartmoors are going to disappear unless we take action to ensure their survival,” she says.
“We have invited the Commoners who keep ponies on the moor to take part in our conservation efforts and have received a pleasing response.
“In the future, we hope to inspect herds of the traditional Dartmoor-type ponies and, with DEFRA’s help, provide financial and marketing support to Commoners who specialise in this type of moor pony.”
The new initiative has received support from the Dartmoor National Park Authority, the British Horse Society and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
A spokesperson for the Dartmoor Commoners Council, says: “Many Commoners prefer the cross-bred ponies as they tend to be smaller and hardier, especially in the northern areas of Dartmoor where valleys and tree cover are sparse and conditions harsher.”
For more information about Dartmoor ponies visit: www.dartmoorponysociety.com