Moorland herd owners receive new pony report

Exmoor-Pony (c)2011 Jason Ball, Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership

The welfare, breeding and management of the free-living Exmoor Ponies within the National Park is the subject of a new, independent report commissioned by the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Exmoor Pony Society and Exmoor National Park Authority.

The report, The free-living ponies within the Exmoor National Park: their status, welfare and future, written by local veterinarian Peter Green MRCVS, confirms that the free-living Exmoor ponies are in good health, are a distinctive local breed and a valuable asset to the amenity and heritage of the National Park.  It seems likely that there is a need to adapt current arrangements to safeguard the future of the Exmoor pony breed and the famous free roaming moorland herds.

Sarah Bryan, Exmoor National Park Head of Conservation & Access said: “The key to success is the different organisations working together with the moorland herd owners and land owners to improve the situation and this report will be used to inform an action plan.”

Sue McGeever from the Exmoor Pony Society commented: “The society is delighted that the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership commissioned this report to look at the long-term future of moorland herds and is looking forward to continuing its working relationship with the Exmoor National Park Authority, the Rare Breed Survival Trust and the moorland farmers to ensure that it fulfils its role as ‘Guardians of the Breed’ whilst working within the current EU/DEFRA legislation.

The Exmoor Pony Society was founded in 1921 by a group of moorland farmers with the aim of keeping the free-living ponies living on Exmoor ‘true to type’ and in their words ‘without foreign blood’.  In order to do so, they introduced a studbook and an inspection process which has continued throughout the decades – the low point was post the Second World War when just 50 ponies remained on the moor and there are now nearer 500 registered ponies running in 21 herds.”

Jason Ball, manager for the moorland partnership said: “This is an excellent independent report – the moorland herd owners have discussed Peter Green’s findings directly with him at a presentation evening and Exmoor National Park Authority will be collecting their feedback.”

The full report is available at: and anyone with an interest in the future of Exmoor ponies is welcome to comment via the form provided.

The study was commissioned as part of the Empowering Moorland Managers project on the Heart of Exmoor Scheme, and the findings will help shape future management practices on the moors. We are very grateful to the Leader Funding from Western Somerset Local Action and from Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon; also the Heritage Lottery Fund for enabling us to support such important initiatives for Exmoor’s moorland managers.

About Programme Manager

Helping people to enjoy and appreciate Exmoor National Park's moorland, and supporting those who take care of it.
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