History Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony has inhabited the moorland of Southern Devon for many years and is related to the Exmoor pony. During an archaeological excavation in the 1970s hoof-prints were found showing that domesticated ponies existed at that time, but the first written record of ponies on Dartmoor is a reference to the ‘wild horses’ of Ashburton, owned by the Bishop of Crediton in AD 1012.

Dartmoor ponies were used to carry tin from the mines and when the mines closed they were left free to roam on the moor. Dartmoor ponies were also used as pack-horses for transporting goods, for farm work, to pull trucks of granite up and down the tramway, and to pull wagons from the coal mines with the ponies being stabled underground and never seeing daylight after arriving at the pit.

In the 1920s, Prince Edward (Edward VIII) kept and bred Dartmoor ponies near Princetown and crossed them with Arab ponies with the aim of producing a finer polo pony. Dartmoor ponies were originally recorded in the Polo Pony Society Stud Book, then in the stud books of the National Pony Society from 1898 and then in 1924 the Dartmoor Pony Society was set up and took over the maintenance of the Stud Book.

The Dartmoor pony is currently listed as a 'rare breed' by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as there are less than 1,000 breeding mares remaining. They still roam the moors today, with other ponies of different and/or unknown breeding. In the autumn of each year the ponies on the moor are rounded-up in the Dartmoor Pony Drift, sorted by owner and the foals weaned. Some are then selected for sale with the remainder being returned to the moor.

Height Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony stands up to 12.2 hh.

Colour Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony is bay, brown or black although other colours may occur.

Breed Characteristics Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony has a small head with large eyes, strong neck, well laid back and sloping shoulder, strong back and hindquarters. It is hardy, strong, versatile, a good jumper, long lived and has good stamina.

Temperament Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony is reliable, sensible, kind and quiet.

Uses Of The Dartmoor Pony

The Dartmoor pony is an excellent child's pony although it can also carry a small adult quite easily. As children's ponies they are used in dressage, show jumping, cross country, one day events and make great family ponies. Dartmoor ponies also make good driving ponies and are used in the sport of carriage driving.