Video: Exmoor Pony
2023 Author: Molly Page | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-24 12:33
The Exmoor pony is the oldest British pony, and one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. The breed originated in the British Isles and usually lives in a semi-wild state in the Exmoor moorlands in the counties of Devon and Somerset in the southwest of England.
According to excavations, in southwestern Britain, horses were used to transport goods as early as 400 BC, and Roman ornaments have images of ponies similar to Exmoor ones. Comparisons of this pony with cave paintings of wild horses in France and Spain, as well as its similarity to tarpan, show that it may be a direct descendant of wild horses.
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The Doomsday Book mentions Exmoor ponies in 1086. The next written reference is from 1818, when Sir Richard Ackland, the last caretaker of the royal forest at Exmoor, transported 400 individuals to his land in Winsford. This herd became known as the "anchor" herd, a small number of pony descendants from this herd still live in Winsford. The rest of the ponies were sold along with the land, and some remained to live in Exmoor.
The remoteness of these ponies' habitat meant that it was very slightly influenced by the blood of other horses. The harsh life in the heather thickets made this pony unusually hardy, not suffering from the usual equine diseases and capable of carrying an adult.
In the past, Exmoor ponies worked in mines, transported various goods and helped local farmers manage their livestock in the pastures. The Exmoor ponies' endurance allows them to be used in limited grazing, so they help maintain balance in wastelands and calcareous meadows.
The Exmoor Pony Society was founded in 1921 to support and develop the breed. It carefully regulates the number of animals in the herd. Only 50 Exmoor ponies survived the Second World War, of which 6 were foals. After the war, the population was supported by enthusiasts, and since 1981 their increased public activity has caused an increase in interest in the breed. The first Exmoor ponies to travel to North America were imported to Canada in the 1950s.
Herds of half-wild ponies still live free in the heather thickets, although they are driven annually for inspection. Each purebred pony, having passed registration, receives a brand in the form of a four-pointed star on the left shoulder.
These ponies are easily recognizable by their light colored lip and large expressive eyes, which are called "toad" because of the heavy upper eyelids. The eyes are bordered with soft golden-bay hair. Due to the harsh habitat in winter, Exmoor ponies grow a waterproof thick coat with a thick soft undercoat that does not allow cold or moisture to pass through, but retains heat perfectly.
Exmoor ponies are tall, they have heavy and dense bones, well-developed muscles; this breed is renowned for its endurance, good health and resilience, making it a unique riding pony, also suitable for harnessing. Despite the fact that some of the breed are wild and stubborn, these animals are usually friendly to people. They have a highly developed herd instinct, and in times of danger, adult animals form a protective ring around the foals.
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The height at the withers is from 114 to 130 cm. The color is usually dark chestnut color with "mealy" marks around the eyes, on the muzzle, sides and lower abdomen. White markings are not allowed.
Body structure: large head with an even profile; broad forehead; expressive eyes; wide nostrils; small ears; long enough neck; lightweight shoulder; strong trunk with a broad back; wide and deep chest; rounded ribs; wide, even croup; dry short limbs; hard hooves; thick, long mane and tail.
The Exmoor Pony won the 2012 International Equestrian Agility Championship. In 2010, 800 representatives of the breed lived in the world.