The 2013 Exmoor Pony Festival will take place Saturday 24 August – Sunday 1 September at Exmoor National Park, the home of the famous Exmoor Pony. A week full of special events and activities will celebrate and rediscover the unique pony breed, and the dedicated people who take care of the free-roaming moorland herds. The festival is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor scheme.
Jason Ball, Heart of Exmoor scheme manager announced: “There’s fun to be had with safaris, rides and family-friendly days, and some serious events with an exhibition of prize-winning ponies from different moorland herds, also an astounding demonstration of horsemanship skills and a dedicated behaviour workshop. I believe the Exmoor Pony Festival will make a lasting impression and is bound to change people’s views of these unique ponies.”
“Exmoor ponies deserve a festival – this ancient rare breed is renowned for its intelligence and an ability to withstand the harsh conditions of the Exmoor uplands, and it is the closest relative of the North West European Prehistoric horse.”
There is something happening every day – the 2013 Exmoor Pony Festival events will include an art exhibition, a fun day, a pleasure ride, photo safaris, walks, and a Pony Liberty and Agility demonstration with the twice-world-champion Exmoor Pony stallion Hawkwell Versuvius. For those keen to develop their own skills in this area, book your place on a dedicated behaviour and handling workshop, led by Dawn Westcott. If you have a keen interest in the breed, come to the ‘meet the herds’ event to find out more about the local breeding bloodlines, and how to buy and care for an Exmoor Pony.
Joining the Heart of Exmoor scheme in organising the festival are the Exmoor Pony Society, the Moorland Mousie Trust, the Exmoor Pony Club and the Exmoor National Park Authority, as well as numerous volunteers, and the managers of Exmoor’s moorland herds. Behind the picturesque scenes of Exmoor Ponies on moorland is an army of farmers, volunteers, inspectors and rangers who all work to secure the future of the free-roaming Exmoor Pony.
For more details please visit http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk or call 01398 323841 or find the festival on Facebook! (Please note: several events require you to book in advance.)
Sat 24 Aug, Exmoor Pony Safaris. Booking essential – only 5 places per tour! Safari with Experience Exmoor on a wonderful trip to seek out, admire and take beautiful photographs of the world famous free-roaming Exmoor Ponies. Driving as close as we can in our Land Rover Discovery, we will also get out of the vehicle as much as possible. Please bring your camera, suitable clothing according to weather and firm footwear. Beverages on board, but feel free to bring your own too. We can provide some binoculars. Starts from Lynmouth National Park Centre. Book now: 01271 889316 or 07854 666 800 email: email@example.com – special offer £10 per person!
Sun 25 Aug, 3pm- 5pm, Exmoor Pony Club Liberty & Agility Demonstration. Booking essential. Exmoor Pony stallion Hawkwell Versuvius ‘Bear’ and Dawn Westcott (twice International Horse Agility World Champions) show how to establish connection and trust between horse and handler so the horse can work loose, navigating obstacles and understanding what’s being asked of him. Venue indoors, not weather-dependent. Viewing area, toilet facilities, coffee/tea, etc, on site. Plenty of parking. Location: Holtball Exmoor Pony Stud, Holt Ball Farm, Luccombe, Minehead TA24 8SZ. FREE (donations welcome) but places are limited and advance booking is essential. No entries at the gate. Please contact Dawn Westcott on 01643 862785 / firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your place. (See exmoorponyclub.co.uk for more info.)
Monday 26 Aug – Saturday 31 Aug, Art Exhibition. Guildhall Heritage and Arts Centre. Open 10am – 4pm. A combination of works by modern artists and treasured pieces collected by Exmoor Pony enthusiasts will be on display. Admission is FREE (donations welcome). Location: behind the National Park Centre just off Fore Street, Dulverton, TA22 9EX. Web: dulvertonheritagecentre.org.uk
Mon 26 Aug, Hawkridge Revel and Gymkhana. A local village event held every August Bank Holiday Monday. There are Exmoor Ponies competing in the show. Look out for Jacky Ablett and Gill Langdon at the ‘Friends of Exmoor Ponies’ display. A few of their Exmoor Ponies will be the show, and if you are keen to buy a pony, ask about the moorland herds. Contact the show secretary for details on 01398 341520.
Tues 27 Aug, 2pm-4pm, Meet the Herds at Cutcombe Market. This year’s Festival provides a unique opportunity to see ponies from the moorland herds on display. Learn about the heritage of each herd, and meet the people who take care of them. An ideal event for discovering how to buy and care for an Exmoor Pony. Location: Cutcombe Market, Wheddon Cross, TA24 7DT. FREE (donations welcome). Enquiries 0845 607 5350.
Tues 27 Aug, Exmoor Pony Safaris. Booking essential – only 5 places per tour! Safari with Experience Exmoor on a wonderful trip to seek out, admire and take beautiful photographs of the world famous free-roaming Exmoor Ponies. Driving as close as we can in our Land Rover Discovery, we will also get out of the vehicle as much as possible. Please bring your camera, suitable clothing according to weather and firm footwear. Beverages on board, but feel free to bring your own too. We can provide some binoculars. Starts from Lynmouth National Park Centre. Book now: 01271 889316 or 07854 666 800 email: email@example.com – special offer, only £10 per person!
Wed 28 Aug, 2pm start, Accessible Exmoor Pony Walk. Come and join Linzi Green – Exmoor Pony Officer – for a short walk and talk about the National Park Authority herd of Exmoors on Haddon Hill. Location: Haddon Hill car park, just off the B3190. FREE (donations welcome). All-terrain wheelchairs can be booked in advance – please call 01392 459222. General enquiries 01398 323841.
Thurs 29 Aug, 1pm-4pm, Cream Teas and Crafts at the Exmoor Pony Centre. Children’s activities, cakes and refreshments. Craft activities with a ‘Perfect Ponies’ theme. Meet the staff and ponies. Pony rides and pony grooming. Location: the Exmoor Pony Centre, near Dulverton, TA22 9QE. Admission is free. There is a small charge for activities. Contact the centre on 01398 323093 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Fri 30 Aug, 2pm-6pm, Liberty Training & Behaviour Workshop. Booking essential. Explore how to train your horses and ponies to work at liberty, with twice International Horse Agility world champion & Reiki Master, Dawn Westcott, at Holt Ball Farm, home of the Holtball Exmoor Pony Stud & Exmoor Pony Club. Looking at behavioural considerations, the language of Equus and the groundwork and warm up exercises that lead to being able to turn loose. Venue indoors, so not weather-dependent. Light refreshments provided and toilet facilities on site. Plenty of parking. Location: Holt Ball Farm, Luccombe, Minehead TA24 8SZ. How much does it cost? Special ‘half price’ Exmoor Pony Festival rate of £25 per person. Places limited so please book early. Contact Dawn Westcott on 01643 862785 / email@example.com to secure your place, and get details about what to wear, insurance, etc. (Visit exmoorponyclub.co.uk for more info.)
Sat 31 Aug, 11am start, Exmoor Pony Fun Day. All are welcome for a day of fun activities. Come along and see how versatile these ponies are as they undertake an obstacle course, the cider trot, the Gatherer’s challenge, fancy dress and pony races. There will also be a fun dog show. Location: Mounsey Hill Gate, in a lovely field next to the Winsford Hill moors. Approach along the B3223, turn at the sign for the Exmoor Pony Centre, and you will see the field. FREE (donations welcome). For more details, please contact Sue McGeever, Exmoor Pony Society – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0845 607 5350.
Sat 31 Aug, 10am-4pm, North Hill Big Adventure, Minehead. Family games and events lasting all day. Meet an Exmoor Pony and watch the local moorland herd. See the wartime heritage of North Hill brought to life with vintage vehicles and living history displays. Please wear outdoor clothing and suitable footwear. Car park and toilet facilities available on site. FREE (donations welcome). Accessible; Dogs welcome; Trampers available. General enquiries 01398 323841.
Sat 31 Aug, 7pm, Quiz Night! Join us at the Green Room, a lovingly restored building at the Exmoor Pony Centre. Free entry (donations welcome). Map/directions from exmoorponycentre.org.uk or call 01398 323093. For more details, please contact Sue McGeever, Exmoor Pony Society – email@example.com / 0845 607 5350.
Sun 1 Sept, 11am start, Exmoor Pony Pleasure Ride. Booking essential. Bring your trusty steed – no, you don’t have to ride an Exmoor! Walkers also welcome. Be ready for any weather. Starting from Mounsey Hill Gate near Winsford Hill – approach along the B3223, turn at the sign for the Exmoor Pony Centre, and you will soon find the field. FREE (donations welcome). To book your place, or for more details, please contact Sue McGeever, Exmoor Pony Society – firstname.lastname@example.org / 0845 607 5350.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Clare O’ Connor, Exmoor National Park Authority. Direct Line: 01398 322244. Mobile: 07772 092128. Pictures available from the festival blog, or from Jason Ball on 01398 322164.
The Exmoor Pony Festival
The festival aims to foster an appreciation of the breed and to attract pony buyers to Exmoor National Park. Exmoor Ponies are excellent for riding, often winning competition prizes, and with a talent for Horse Agility, their high intelligence apparently linked to life in the wild as free-roaming herds. Exmoor National Park is the home of the Exmoor Pony, an ancient and hardy breed perfectly adapted to the moorland landscape. They are one of our truly native mammals, directly descended from the wild European horses known to be here 130,000 years ago. Behind the picturesque scenes of Exmoor Ponies on moorland is an army of farmers, volunteers, inspectors and rangers who all work to secure the future of the free-roaming Exmoor Pony.
Heart of Exmoor
“Helping people to enjoy and appreciate Exmoor’s moorland and supporting those who take care of it.” The Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership runs a lottery-funded scheme to promote the Exmoor moorland and its heritage. Their projects are investing half a million pounds to benefit the landscape and community. Visit heartofexmoor.org.uk for details or call Jason Ball on 01398 322164.
The Exmoor Pony Centre
Open Sunday to Friday (closed Saturdays) the centre offers everyone a chance to meet Exmoor ponies at close quarters, provides education, training in pony handling, conservation grazing advice, riding and more. Run by the Moorland Mousie Trust, a charity with HRH the Duchess of Cornwall as their royal patron. For details please visit exmoorponycentre.org.uk or call 01398 323093.
The Exmoor Pony Society
A registered Charity, the Exmoor Pony Society was set up in 1921 for the registration of pure-bred Exmoor ponies, the conservation of the breed and the preservation of the breed standard as well as promoting the ponies to the general public. Friends of Exmoor Ponies is the fund-raising part of the Society and volunteers travel to shows up and down the country to educate the public about this rare native breed. For more information, please visit exmoorponysociety.org.uk or call Sue McGeever on 0845 607 5350.
The Exmoor Pony Club
The Exmoor Pony Club is a friendly group for enthusiasts of Exmoor ponies, promoting the breed worldwide and encouraging positive, trust-based horsemanship (including interactive Horsemanship Challenges). Join the Exmoor Pony Club community at exmoorponyclub.co.uk, facebook.com/ExmoorPonyClub and Twitter @ExmoorPonyClub