January 31, 2015 at 11:59 am #3307
Dartmoor ponies have been listed on an endangered animals list. The much-loved ponies have been moved from vulnerable into the endangered category in the latest update to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s annual watch list. It follows a fall in the number of the animals registered to the trust with just over 300 breeding females known to roam the moor. GH.January 31, 2015 at 12:08 pm #3308
This is a very complicated subject. Are you referring to the pure bred Dartmoor ponies or to the mixed breed ponies which do roam the moor. I doubt if the pure bred ponies roam free any more as they would cross-breed with the mixed breed stallions. Last week it was mentioned that the ponies were being shot with contraceptive darts to stop them breeding as there is no value in the ponies and nobody can afford to keep them on the moor.January 31, 2015 at 12:17 pm #3309
I don’t know, Dave. I have just gleaned this from our local rag and thought it may be of interest. For more detailed information one could contact the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. GH.January 31, 2015 at 2:56 pm #3310dartymoorParticipant
Yes, that’s the registered dartmoor, it’s been endangered for some time. Dru Butterfield at Parke has small herd.
There’s quite a lot of interesting history about the breed – it’s mildly popular in America for some reason – but like dogs, the breed standard isn’t that relevant to the originating conditions. Some think that registered dartmoors are overbred and now too fine to survive on the moor that formed them. (And having seen pictures of some of the show ponies, I tend to agree)
The dartmoor hill pony (not registered, loose classification) could also be called endangered if you consider it “A pony owned by commoners grazing on the moor” as there are only around 1200 of those. (And only 51 commoners with ponies on the moor)
These include the fashion ponies – cobs on the western moor, shetlands on the northern and southern, those with particular markings. The markets for these are varied, but all contracting. Eg, the speckled shetlands were mostly bred for the fur trade. The shetlands first landed on Dartmoor over a hundred years ago as a breeding colony for tin miners as pit ponies, and man has bred horses up there for various purposes since at least the bronze age. Nowadays the trade is tiny by comparison and the numbers of ponies on the moor shrinking fast – with the effect on the walking that we know about (encroachment of bracken, gorse etc – ponies are the only grazers on the moor with upper and lower teeth so the only ones that can deal with gorse in particular)
The rare breed issue does have another aspect – subsidies. The ponies attract very little at present (from various sources such as Europe but also English Heritage), but rare breed cattle get more – AND there’s a usable product to sell at the end. That’s one reason why you see so many Belted Galloways and Highland cattle on the moor.
I met with Robyn Petrie-Rice last week who’s doing a degree on the subject of dartmoor ponies and has done a huge amount of research and is a source of lots of interesting knowledge. She’s also one of many trying to forge a way forwards to preserve the future on ponies on the moor. (One that doesn’t include serving them for breakfast…)January 31, 2015 at 4:04 pm #3311
We received a survey last week all about whether or not we could serve them on our menu. We gave a big “no” to all the questions, but it is certainly being considered.January 31, 2015 at 5:23 pm #3312
Thank you. How interesting, particularly with regard to the control of gorse and braken. As to eating horse… well they are vegetarian and I only eat animals that eat vegetables! GH.January 31, 2015 at 5:41 pm #3313
I think I prefer pork to pony 👿
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