For many people, seeing Exmoor Ponies on the open moors is one of the highlights of a trip to Exmoor.
They are one of a number of British native ponies and a common sight on Exmoor, where a number of managed herds graze the rough pasture. The ponies are only ‘wild’ in the sense that the herds roam freely on the moor, for all the ponies belong to someone. There are around twenty different herds that run on the various commons of Exmoor, two of which are owned by the National Park. As many of the commons have shared boundaries, it is essential that those visiting the moor remember to close the gates.
The Exmoor pony’s colouring ranges from dun (a smokey-brown) to bay (red-brown) or brown (dark brown). Underparts, and the area around the eyes and nose, are a mealy buff colour while the mane, tail and points are dark brown or black. The summer coat is fine and glossy, but in winter the ponies grow a thick, two-layered protective coat.
Foals are born in the spring and early summer and spend the summer running with their mothers, known as dams, and building up a store of fat to take them through the hard winter ahead. In the autumn the herds are driven down to the farms, to be inspected and micro-chipped. Foals are weaned and either sold or returned to the moor for the winter.
For a chance to get up close to the ponies, visit the Exmoor Pony Centre at Ashwick near Dulverton, or join one of the many events organised locally throughout the summer.
For more information see:
- The Exmoor Pony Centre www.exmoorponycentre.org.uk
- Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group www.mepbg.co.uk
- The Exmoor Pony Festival www.exmoorponyfestival.com
- The Exmoor Pony Society www.exmoorponysociety.org.uk
Please be aware of ponies when driving on Exmoor, particularly on areas of open moorland and keep your speed down. There have sadly been a number of recent pony fatalities due to collisions with cars. Never try to feed or touch the ponies.