Exmoor Pony Festival enjoyed by thousands

Over 3,000 people joined the 2014 Exmoor Pony Festival to celebrate the famous free-living pony herds on Exmoor National Park, with 9 days of safaris, country shows, herd open days, walks, rides and family fun – supported by volunteers, herd owners, tourism providers and the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Heart of Exmoor scheme.

exmoorponies-grazingheath4501c2a9jasonpball

The Exmoor Pony Festival showcased the rare breed at its best, celebrating the versatility as well as the heritage of these beautiful ponies. Artwork by 10-year-old Minehead pupil Millie Salway launched the festival with a beautiful colour poster. Visitors watched the herds on the open moors, cheered on equestrian champions at the shows, met ponies at family fun events and heard first-hand from Exmoor breeders.

Linzi Green, Heart of Exmoor’s Pony Officer, said: “As always there was something for everyone whether you are new to Exmoors or a keen fan of the breed… from the thrill of watching the moorland herds on the moors Exmoor National Park, to witnessing the amazing achievements of ponies bred on the moor who have achieved champion status in a variety of disciplines.”

Open days attracted 90 enthusiasts to learn more about herds behind the scenes – a day with the Anchor Herd hosted by Emma Wallace and a visit to the Tawbitts Herd hosted by Mesdames Ablett and Langdon. (Thanks BBC Radio Devon for the interview live from Exmoor.)

Mrs & Mrs Bryant’s pony Moonpenny Aquarius made history at the Dunster Show, as the first Exmoor Pony in over 160 years to win ‘Supreme in Show’! No mean feat with more than 500 equines entered.

Que Sera Sera, a pony orphaned at 2 weeks age when its mother was knocked down, won Supreme In Hand Champion at the inaugural Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group Show, run at Brendon Country Show hosted by Tippbarlake Herd owners Nigel and Maria Floyd where even Hurricane Bertha’s efforts did not deter the event.

At the Exford Show, celebrity wildlife film maker Johnny Kingdom interviewed moorland farmer Rex Milton (Withypoole Herd) recording for his new TV programme ‘the Exmoor year’. The Exmoor Pony Society’s annual breed show had a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifier won by Eddra Chillies ridden by Miss Phillips and bred by Mrs Debbie Davy who also went on to take the Supreme title.

Children’s author and Ilkerton Herd pony herd owner Victoria Eveleigh told stories at the Exmoor Pony Centre’s family fun day with crafts and cream teas.

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Off-road landrover adventures were provided by Barle Valley Safaris and Experience Exmoor viewing the best of Exmoor National Park’s wonderful landscapes.

Exmoor ponies on North Hill greeted walkers on North Hill led by Exmoor National Park Authority Ranger Richard Eales and Kestra French from the Moorland Mousie Trust. To round off the festival week, a fun-ride attracted ponies of all kinds to tour Winsford Hill, and an Exmoor Pony met visitors at the Bogtastic event in Simonsbath.

 

ENDS

Editors Notes

Updates on http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk (no www.) facebook.com/ExmoorPonyFestival and Twitter: @heartofexmoor Hashtag: #exmoorponyfest

Media contact

Clare O’ Connor, Exmoor National Park Authority. Direct Line: 01398 322244. Mobile: 07772 092128. Pictures available from Clare or the festival blog.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The purpose of the Exmoor Pony Festival is to promote the registered free-living moorland herds of the Exmoor Pony as part of the Exmoor National Park’s landscape and heritage, to educate the public on the welfare and management of the herds and to foster an appreciation of the Exmoor Pony breed.

Exmoor Ponies are excellent for riding, driving and agility, often winning prizes, 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.

Everyone loves the famous Exmoor Pony herds and they are truly part of the moorland landscape, yet we should remember behind the picturesque scenes is a dedicated army of farmers, volunteers, inspectors and rangers who all work to secure the future of the free-roaming Exmoor Pony.

The Exmoor Pony Festival relies on many hard-working volunteers, charities and organisations to make it happen. All have one thing in common – they recognise the importance of conserving and promoting the amazing Exmoor Pony! The Festival is jointly coordinated by Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership, Exmoor Pony Society and The Moorland Mousie Trust / Exmoor Pony Centre.

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’s moorland heritage, investing a million pounds to benefit the landscape and local communities. The partnership projects have generated over 9,000 visitors, 3,000 volunteer days, trips for 6,000 schoolchildren, and 500 skills trainees. Visit heartofexmoor.org.uk for details.

The Exmoor Pony Centre (Moorland Mousie Trust). 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 fundraising 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.

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Exmoor Pony Festival events on today

TODAY’S EVENTS

The MEPBG Pony Show at the

Brendon Country Show.

10.30am start. Sunday 10 August.

The inaugural Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group MEPBG Exmoor Pony Show will feature both moorbred and homebred Exmoor ponies from Exmoor National Park. There are classes for registered, Section X and Exmoor-X ponies. Come and experience the old traditions of the Exmoor moorland farmers gathering to showcase their beautiful Exmoor ponies, at one of Exmoor’s longest standing horse shows. Plenty of accommodation available (including stabling & grazing).

We look forward to seeing you there! Location: Brendon Barton Farm, Brendon, Lynton, Exmoor, Devon, EX35 6LP.
Show Schedule and Entry Form available at http://www.brendonshow.co.uk Contact: MEPBGShows@hotmail.com / 01598 741201.

Social Evening – Quiz and BBQ.

6.30pm. Sunday 10 August.

A barbecue in the beautiful surroundings of the Exmoor Pony Centre, with a fun quiz hosted by Dr Sue Baker, author of ‘Survival of the Fittest’. A relaxed and welcoming evening open to all Exmoor Pony enthusiasts! Take this opportunity to learn more about Exmoor ponies and meet a few of local characters and herd owners of Exmoor. Meet: The Green Room at the Exmoor Pony Centre, Ashwick, near Dulverton, TA22 9QE.
Contact: Linzi Green 01398 323093.

MORE EVENTS at http://exmoorponyfestival.org.uk 

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Exmoor’s Archaeology Forum 27 September 2014

Celebrate the rich archaeological landscape surviving on Exmoor at the 14th Annual Archaeology Forum on Saturday 27 September 2014, the 60th anniversary year of the designation of the National Park.

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A digital artist’s impression of the Chapman Barrows, commissioned through the Heart of Exmoor Scheme. Copyright 2013 (c) Peter Lorimer

The forum will highlight recent work across the National Park including community projects such as the Longstone Landscape Project investigating moorlands above Challacombe and Parracombe. There will also be an update on the historic settlement project Dig Porlock Village.

Is White Rock Cottage more than a humble dwelling? Find out how it has been a key to researching the creation of the 19thcentury landscape in Simonsbath. New discoveries associated with the Exmoor Mires Project will be presented together recent palaeological research into the development of the mires and an assessment of the historic routeways which have carved their way across the moor.

Rob Wilson North, conservation manager at Exmoor National Park says: “The archaeological forum is our chance to share more detailed information about what we and others have discovered about Exmoor’s past and discuss how the results can be interpreted and lead us into new areas of research.”

Speakers will include Ralph Fyfe (University of Plymouth), Linda Blanchard and Hazel Riley as well as staff from Exmoor National Park: Faye Balmond (Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership), Lee Bray (Exmoor Mire Project), Shirley Blaylock and Rob Wilson-North.

This year the forum will be held in Filleigh Village Hall and the cost is £15 per person (lunch included) or £10 per person without lunch. The event is usually well attended so anyone who is interested should book as soon as possible. The booking form can be downloaded via: http://goo.gl/pIzMcN

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Bogtastic accommodation list released !

If you are planning on coming along to the Wild Night Out in Simonsbath on Saturday 16th August and attending Bogtastic the following day on Sunday 17th August, or just want to enjoy a few extra ‘wildlife’ pints, you can easily spend a night on Exmoor and make a boggy weekend out of it.
With different types of  available – varying from camping, dorms, B&B to self-catering, there is plenty to choose from, whatever your budget. To help give you a few ideas of places to stay, we’ve compiled a list of local places.
A big thank you to the  Exmoor Holiday Group for their generous sponsership of the guide and for Porlock Vistor Centre for handling bookings.  Please check them both out !

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Wildlife training success.

The New Ecologist Wildlife Training programme continues to go from success, with over 18 training sessions delivered in just over 6 months. One such course was a
a Wild flower identification workshop led by the Exmoor National Park’s Conservation Officers (Wildlife) at Simonsbath Sawmill. Wild flower surveying is important as they are an crucial part of the ecosystem with many different species of mammal, birds and insects relying on them.

Bea, Conservation Officers (Wildlife) commented “We were blessed with fine weather and keen volunteers. There is a wonderful variety of species around Simonsbath that can be enjoyed though the summer months”.

The sessions started with an introduction on how to identify some of the species of wild flowers, including the wild strawberry and the tormentil that is found on Exmoor. The volunteers then got the chance to test their skills in the habitat.

Ruth, a volunteer for the Exmoor Natural History Society highlighted how the course was “ A great opportunity to increase your identification skills. As a member of the Natural History Society I was pleased to take part on this training day”.

The Wild flower identification training day was a free training day that was part of Exmoor Wild Watch 2014, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Exmoor Trust and Exmoor National Park though the Heart of Exmoor. For more information on future training days visit the website at: http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/communities/get-involved or to see Simonsbath wildflowers at first hand with local experts come along to Bogtastic on August 17th in Simonsbath.

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The Great Exmoor Welly Boot Show 2014

Welly Boot Show Poster

Jessica Robertson, the show organiser says: “All you need to do is decorate an old pair of wellies or shoes with a wildlife or boggy theme and bring them along to Simonsbath to claim your prize. The finale will be the announcement of ‘Best in Shoe’ with prizes given to the best decorated pair of wellies and shoes.

“Why not go one step further and turn your decorated shoes or wellies into gardens? By filling them with soil and planting seeds or flowers in them, you can make your very own welly garden.”

The Show is open to everyone of all ages and is wonderful opportunity to be creative and reuse old wellies or shoes. Rain or shine, everyone is welcome to come along to celebrate the good old welly at Bogtastic 2014; entries from schools and youth clubs will be particularly welcome.

Jess Robertson and Emma Wake  from the Bogtastic team along with Elliot Prior  of Masons Kings Country Store,  exclusive sponsors of the Exmoor Welly Boot Show

Jess Robertson and Emma Wake from the Bogtastic team along with Elliot Prior of Masons Kings Country Store, exclusive sponsors of the Exmoor Welly Boot Show.

The Show has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of Masons Kings Country Store “It’s a pleasure to be the sole sponsor of the Exmoor Welly Boot Show, at Bogtastic 2014. As proud residents of Exmoor, we take pride in supporting the local community and events” says Elliot Prior from Masons Kings Country Store.

Entries open at 10am in Simonsbath and the winners and runners up will be announced at 2.30pm. For more details on the show ring 01398 322164 or visit the Bogtastic Web pages on the Exmoor National Park website 01398 322164.

Free Welly Boot Show Poster!

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Try Fly Fishing

Are you aged 11 to 16? Try Fly Fishing!

For a second year, the River Exe and Tributaries Association (RETA) is offering the opportunity for you to try your hand at fly fishing. You will learn the basics of fly casting under the supervision of experienced and fully qualified instructors registered with the Angling Trust.

Thanks to a bequest from Robin Bailey, a founding supporter of RETA, we are able to provide the opportunity to young people

Free of charge, and you can keep any fish that you catch!

This event is being held at the Exe Valley Fishery, Exebridge, on
Monday 4 August 2014. It is important to register and return your confirmation details as soon as possible as numbers are limited. For further information, or to register, phone Richard Horrocks on 01884 820865 or email: richard.horrocks1@btinternet.com

Download the FREE Poster!

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